Sewer drain blockages: warning signs, causes and remedies

A blocked sewer main in your Sydney home is one of the most challenging plumbing problems faced by homeowners. All of the plumbing fixtures in your home have a small waste line attached that consolidates and transfers all of the wastewater to the main sewer line outside of your home. When there is a problem with the main sewer line, sewage and waste cannot be safely transported away from your home. Instead it can travel back up the smaller waste lines, contaminating your drinking water and spilling out from various drain openings.

Being aware of what causes sewer line blockages and knowing the warning signs can protect your home from damage and save you dealing with major drain repairs.

Main causes of blocked sewers Sydney

Our Sydney plumber pulling out a clump of wet-wipes from a blocked sewer drain in Sydney.
  1. Wet-wipes are quickly becoming the leading cause of blocked sewer drains in Sydney. Consumers are switching to wet-wipes to use for cleaning, make-up removal and as a toilet paper replacement. Wet-wipe companies have recently come under scrutiny for advertising wet-wipes as flushable when in reality they do not easily disintegrate in water like toilet paper does. Wet-wipes get snagged in the pipes, accumulating over time. They combine with grease and other debris in the pipes causing serious blockages.

  2. Tree roots are another significant cause of sewer drain blockages in Sydney. Because these pipes are located underneath the ground outside of your home, they are susceptible to tree root infestation. Tree roots can penetrate even the tiniest cracks or joints in pipes. They are drawn to pipes because of the moisture and minerals inside. Older sewer pipes are most at risk because they were constructed out of clay or metal and the joints between pipes are not as tight as modern PVC pipes.

  3. Sagging sewer pipes can occur due to incorrect installation or via natural causes. Over the years the soil may move and shift causing a part of the pipe to sag or dislodge. These “bellied” pipes create a low spot in the line that will begin to collect paper, waste and other debris that’s washed or flushed down the drains —resulting in repeat blockages.

  4. Badly damaged, ruptured and collapsed sewer pipes can lead to major blocked drains and ongoing problems for your homes plumbing system. The damaged pipe prevents the wastewater from moving easily through the sewer system.

  5. Fats, oil and grease are often washed down the kitchen sink with little thought. Because they are a liquid, many homeowners have no idea how dangerous oil can be for the internal and external plumbing pipes. Grease coagulates as it cools, coating the inside of pipes. It also acts as a binding agent, forming solid clumps in the pipes.

Warning signs of a blocked sewer at your Sydney property

  1. Multiple plumbing fixtures in the home will block up and/or drain slowly when there is a blockage in the main sewer drain. If you only noticing one plumbing fixture blocking up, this is great news as it’s probably a local clog rather than a blockage in the sewer main.

  2. Plumbing fixtures not performing in the usual way is another sign to look out for. A toilet that fills up when you try to flush it, or makes loud gurgling sounds can be indicative of a blocked sewer drain. If flushing the toilet causes water to back up from your tub or shower, it’s best to contact a plumber as soon as possible.

  3. Changes to your lawn can indicate a cracked sewer line. Green patches of grass that weren’t previously there could mean that wastewater and minerals are escaping from the pipes. Water leaking from the pipes can also cause soil erosion leaving an indentation in the lawn. Soggy patches on the grass when it hasn’t rained may be sewage from a broken sewer pipe.

Blocked or broken sewer drain repairs

A CCTV camera inspection of the sewer line is the first step our drainage plumber will take. By performing an in-line drain inspection, our plumbers will be able to see where the problem lies so we can deliver faster and more affordable repairs.

The drain camera captures video footage and photographs of the inside of the pipes which are then transmitted to a monitor operated by our plumber. The footage is comprehensively analysed to determine the best solution available - one that addresses the issue at its foundation. Our drain cameras are also fitted with sonar technology that records the physical location of the line and its depth from the surface.

Depending on what the CCTV drain inspection uncovers, a number of repair or replacement options are available:

  1. Hydro jetting can often clear stubborn blockages in the sewer drain quickly and effectively. Wet-wipes, sanitary items and grease are flushed free from the pipe and the entire line is scrubbed clean in the process. Water jetting is also suitable for minor tree root infestations. However, unless the crack where the roots entered the pipe is repaired, the line will need to be jetted regularly as the roots grow back.

  2. Replacing a small section of pipe is possible when there is a crack or minor damage to one section of the line. The exact locations of the damaged pipe can be found using our CCTV camera meaning we know exactly where to dig to minimise the amount of disruption to your yard.

  3. Replacing a larger section of pipe or the entire system may be necessary depending on the extent of the damage. Some companies offer relining services but this is only suitable for minor damage in pipes. It cannot repair sagging or collapsed pipes or extensive tree root intrusion. Excavation of the pipes will either be done by machine or hand depending on where the pipes are located and any access issues. New PVC pipes will be installed and they can last in excess of 50 years.

Call a blocked drain plumber in Sydney

A blocked sewer drain is not something that can be fixed using store bought drain chemicals. It’s best to get in touch with a licensed and insured blocked drain plumber as soon as you notice the warning signs. Quick intervention will reduce the complexity of the issue and lower the cost of repairs. It will also prevent unnecessary damage to your home. JAB Plumbing Solutions specialise in drain installations and repairs and we have more than a decade of experience. We provide free quotes and free second opinions. Give our friendly team a call today.