Common blocked drain issues in older Sydney homes and terraces

Common blocked drain issues in older Sydney homes and terraces

Many of Sydney’s most prestigious suburbs are prized for their tree lined streets, victorian terraced buildings and federation homes. While older homes have plenty of charm and character, their ageing sewer and stormwater systems often come with a host of problems. Some of these issues are minor inconveniences, however, other problems such as tree root intrusion, can end up costing homeowners thousands of dollars in repairs. Below are some of the most common drain issues faced by older homes.

Old terracotta or clay pipes

Modern sewer and stormwater pipes are constructed from highly-durable PVC piping. However, plumbing pipes in older homes were traditionally made from terracotta, which has a higher risk of corrosion. Due to the rigid and brittle nature of clay / terracotta pipes problems can begin to occur over time. General wear and tear can lead to loose joints, cracks and sagging pipes.

Terracotta drain pipes are also particularly susceptible to tree root ingress. Roots work their way into the drain via loose joint, cracks or fractures. This is especially prevalent if an effective root barrier system was not installed when the pipes were laid or large trees have been planted too close to the drain pipe.

Drain repairs by unqualified tradesman

The older the home, the more likely the sewer or stormwater pipes have had some repairs done. If these repairs were performed by an unqualified plumber there could be all kinds of plumbing problems. Bad repairs could include unsecured pipes, poorly sealed pipe joints, inadequate fall (so the pipes don’t drain properly), or construction debris left in the pipes.

Bad DIY repairs

In order to save money, homeowners with no skills may turn to glues, adhesives, hose clamps and even duct tape to repair plumbing pipes in older homes. These are neither code-compliant nor safe and can cause considerable problems for your Sydney plumbing.

Other problems may arise if previous house owners have used drain chemicals to clear blockages. Drain chemical are made from harsh, corrosive substances and they often cause more damage to the pipes. If chemicals are poured down the toilet and there is a major block in the sewer main, the chemicals are unlikely to clear it. Rather than clearing the blockage, the chemicals are unable to travel through the pipe and instead sit in one area corroding the pipe.

Bellied or sagging pipes

Subterranean sewer and stormwater pipes (those that have been installed underneath the home or buried underground) can sag, bow or belly over time. This occurs due to a gradual movement of the house and/or shifting soil, which creates a negative slope in the line. Sediment and waste can accumulate in this bellied section of pipe, restricting the flow of water. Left unattended, bellied pipes can cause stoppages and result in ongoing blocked drain problems in your Sydney home.

Tree root infiltration

As mentioned above, older pipes are more vulnerable to tree root infiltration. Tree roots can creep into the smallest defects in pipes, growing along the length of the line until it’s thoroughly blocked. As tree root grow and expand they can cause additional cracks and damage to the pipes. Older home are also more likely to have larger, established trees with complex root systems.

If you’re looking to purchase an older home, it’s a wise decision to invest is a CCTV pipe inspection before proceeding. CCTV inspections are quick and easy to arrange and only cost around $350. You’ll be provided with video footage of the condition of sewer and stormwater pipes.

Terrace homes

Old terrace homes have an added complexity because sewerage and stormwater pipes are often shared with the neighbouring terraces. The property owners are jointly responsible for maintaining the pipes, regardless of where they are located. This can be problematic if one neighbour has planted trees near the sewer line or has been flushing wet-wipes and sanitary items down the toilet. It can be tricky to negotiate sharing the cost of repairs with neighbours.

Sediment buildup

The older the home, the greater likelihood of sediment buildup in the pipes. For a house built in the 1950s or 60s thats more than a half a century worth of debris, oil, sediment, soap scum and other sediment that’s been washed down the pipes. Oil in particular can build-up in pipes over time, coagulating and lining the interior of the pipes until they become clogged like an artery. If the pipes are otherwise undamaged, hydro jetting is a fast and affordable method of removing grease buildup and sediment from pipes.


Call the Sydney blocked drain experts at JAB Plumbing Solutions

JAB Plumbing Solutions specialise in drain installations, excavations, drain cleaning and drain repairs. We have more than a decade of experience repairing all kinds of drainage issues. We offer high quality results and affordable pricing. For a free quote or free second opinion call our friendly Sydney plumbers today.