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What Is The Most Common Cause Of Blocked Drains

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  • Blocked Drains, Plumbing Components, Preventative Measures
  • Posted date:
  • 14-07-2022
What Is The Most Common Cause Of Blocked Drains

What is the most common cause of blocked drains? This article explores the causes of drainage blockages and how to prevent them.

Most Common Blocked Drain Causes

Many things can cause a blockage in your drain, which is one of the reasons you might need to employ a plumber. Blockages are the most common cause of drainage issues, whether it's a clogged kitchen sink, a toilet that won't flush properly, or a slow-running shower drain; blocked drains can cause major and costly problems if they're not avoided or dealt with quickly.

Grease and lard dumped down the sink after cooking is the most prevalent cause of blocked drains! Many of us have this bad habit, which is causing serious damage to the pipelines and sewage systems beneath our homes. Grease and fat that are washed down the drains eventually congeal in the pipes, forming 'Fatbergs.' These fatbergs choke the pipes and cause major blockages.

Your bathroom sinks, bathtubs, and showers bear the brunt of many drainage troubles, and two frequent culprits, hair and soap suds, can easily clog them up. More obstructions are caused by these two regular daily events than by most other detritus. When you wash your hair in the shower, bathe, or wash your hands in the sink with soap, the dirt can build up in your pipes, clogging or slowing down your drains.

Can Jetting Unblock A Drain?

Common Causes Of Blocked Drains

The sewer and water drainage systems of a house are arranged like the branches of a tree. There's a primary line that's normally the largest in diameter, and sublines that branch out of it are usually a little smaller. 

While the toilet is perhaps the most typical source of clogs, they can begin, grow, and end anywhere. Many materials, such as hair and soap in restrooms and fats and food waste in kitchens, wind up down the plug hole without our knowledge. For a variety of causes, debris can pile up farther down the pipes and eventually form a blockage, which is only recognised when a slowing of draining water turns into a pool that refuses to budge.

Tree Roots

Tree roots are well-acknowledged as the leading source of water and sewer main blockages and obstructions. Tree roots are more commonly found infiltrating the pipes of older homes, but they can infiltrate systems of any age. A gurgling sound, according to some experts, is the first indicator of tree root incursion into a sewage or water line.

Common Causes Of Blocked Drains

Tree roots prefer moist environments, so they're naturally drawn to water and sewer pipes, especially if they've been exposed to gaps or leaks. 

Furthermore, if you reside in a forested location or near trees, it's critical to keep an eye out for tree root invasion; most people choose to have a CCTV inspection every few years to counteract this. 

CCTV inspections are a great way to investigate your drains. These investigations allow drainage experts to clear away any clumps, clusters and blockages with ease and precision. 

By using this method, your blocked drains can be cleared away. Our expertise is great at preventing blocked drains and making sure those pipes stay clear of any potential clogging.

Sewer sensors are also a good way to monitor your drains to see if they're clear or not. Sewer sensors are installed in manholes above sewer pipes as monitoring devices; the sensors provide us with an early warning alert of any items accumulating in the sewer that could cause a blockage, resulting in sewage flowing back into homes.

"Flushable" Wipes

Flushable wipes can wreak havoc on the system. Some municipalities and other agencies in charge of wastewater treatment and management have begun to prevent individuals from flushing the ostensibly flushable wipes. 

Thick toilet paper, paper towels, face tissue, light cardboard, and other paper products are not designed to be flushed down the toilet; but household and business plumbing systems can receive and handle water, human waste, and biodegradable toilet paper.

Objects such as paper should also not be flushed down the drain. Any other toilet paper substitute, such kitchen roll, should be thrown away rather than flushed. When toilet paper runs out, napkins, tissues, and industrial blue rolls are all regarded as viable substitutes, but they are not built in the same way as toilet paper and hence are not deemed flushable. 

Since all of these materials are engineered to absorb water, they take a long time to disintegrate in our drains, increasing the risk of blockages.

drainage blockages

Feminine Hygiene

Since feminine hygiene items and infant garments (nappies) do not biodegrade and include cotton and other fibres that have a high ability to clog and attract other clogging agents, they represent a threat to plumbing systems. 

Both are non-biodegradable and represent a threat to both public and private systems. Even when pad wrappers and tampon applicators claim to be "flushable," the sewer treatment contains bacteria that break down human waste, but they do not disintegrate anything else.

Fat, Oil and Grease

Plumbing and all of its accessories are enemies of fat, oil, and grease. Another widely publicised campaign is to educate customers on the need of avoiding putting oily items down the drain, where they can build up and cause clogs. 

It's tempting to believe that water just washes everything away, yet fats are sticky, binding chemicals that are prone to clogging and generating buildups. Fat, oil, and grease should be disposed of in the garbage can; many fats and oils, including bacon grease, can be left to cool and solidify or congeal for easier cleanup.

It's a common misconception that throwing grease and fat down the drain is acceptable as long as it's followed up with hot water and dish soap. It is never a good idea to flush grease and fat down the toilet. 

Even if the liquid is hot and easy to pour out of the pan, somewhere in your pipes, it will cool and harden. This creates a goopy, sticky mess around the pipe walls, trapping garbage that would otherwise flow down the drain. The clogs that form may eventually cause your drains to stop working.

Generally, many people don't realise they have grease and fat problem in their plumbing system until it's too late. If you've already thrown grease and fat down the drain, a temporary treatment using hot water and dish soap may be able to clear the thickest area of the clog. If you've been disposing of grease and fat in your kitchen sink for years, a plumber may be required. A professional has the equipment to completely unclog your drain, allowing it to flow freely once again.

hair buildup drain blockage


Hair might buildup to the point where it causes a slow or complete blockage. We can't stop hair from falling out of our heads, but we can use little screens and excellent habits to protect the drain as much as possible. 

When you observe hair accumulating on the drain or hanging from it, take it out using needle-nose pliers or long tweezers regularly, rather than letting it sit or wash down the drain. A variety of drain screens are also available, which prevent hair from falling down the drain and make cleanup easier.

Pipe Scale

Pipe scale is a natural product that interacts with your pipes and can eventually cause a clog or obstruction due to the mineral deposits that water leaves behind. Scale is formed when dissolved calcium and magnesium, as well as other metallic elements, are left behind in flowing water. 

Temperature, as well as continual wet-dry circumstances, affect these particles. The scale begins to concentrate in one location, attracting more scale until it becomes obstructive. Mineral scale can impact not only pipes but also other water-using equipment such as washing machines and dishwashers.

food clogged drains


Food crumbs and pieces should be thrown away rather than flushed down the toilet, bathtub, or laundry drain. 

It should not be flushed because food particles may attach to the pipes and accumulate, causing problems with water drainage and drain cleaning.


Pipe disintegration is a possibility, especially in older homes or those with deteriorating concrete, clay, or terra cotta pipes. Joints might separate and fall apart, and the earth can erode, causing the pipe to sag. 

Pipes may shift under the continual pressure and heave of the freeze-thaw process where it freezes strongly in the winter. Even with modern pipes, which are normally composed of super-hardened plastic, natural soil shifts and seasonal variations can cause damage.


Nature can get into sewer or water lines, especially if they have separated. Subsurface blockages can be caused by leaves, sticks, mud, boulders, and even rats. Since leaves are pervasive and effective clogging agents, it's best to keep them out of the garden and avoid washing them down the storm sewer drain. 

Even the smallest weeds can get through the smallest cracks, and any crack in the plumbing pipes allows roots, plants, and soil to enter, build, and obstruct the pipes.


Bars of soap and other items like jewellery, children's toys, condoms, dental floss, and food can break off in chunks and become caught in the drain. Therefore, flushing should only include water, human waste, and biodegradable toilet paper.


Combinations of materials can also combine and produce a large, sticky ball of blockage, resulting in weird sounds, slow drains, and, eventually, backups. Soaps and detergents can accumulate, attract other materials, and obstruct drain fields, particularly in septic systems. 

Laundry specialists advocate using soaps that are free of phosphates and surfactants rather than those made from petrochemicals. It's also recommended that folks with a septic drain field pace the rate at which they wash clothes, rather than doing it one load at a once, to give the system time to work and avoid overloading it.

Slope of the Sewer

If the slope of the drainage pipes is incorrect, it can cause drainage problems such as blockages. Gravity drives most of the functions of water systems. Therefore, drainage pipes must have the correct slope for them to flow properly and efficiently. The standard pitch of any pipe should be 1/4 inch per foot, and sometimes even more if the terrain or household demands more of a slop to process the water and waste.

Undersized Sewer Pipes

Undersized sewer pipes can cause blockages. It may be difficult or impossible to determine a property's whole plumbing history unless you've been the sole owner when its structures were initially built. People sometimes build additions to their homes or buildings without accounting for the additional plumbing load. 

There have been numerous cases where an unlicensed technician or unskilled do-it-yourselfer misjudged the system loads. The number of water-using units that discharge to it, such as toilets, sinks, and bathtubs, determines the size of sewage drain piping utilised in a home or other building. A widely accepted minimum diameter for a home's main drain is four inches, but many plumbers and consumers will choose a larger size based on household demands and usage.


Even if the sewer main is appropriately sized, overflow can occur, especially if the household is on a septic system and its waste volume has expanded. The drain field and other septic system components might become overburdened and stop draining, resulting in foul odours and backups.

What Are the Main Plumbing Components


Leaks are a sewage and main drain's worst enemy because when water leaks beneath, the earth erodes and becomes wet, allowing the pipe to drop, sag, or alter its position. The leaking water alters the chemical makeup of the soils surrounding it, causing the pipe to shift and possibly break.

Cat Litter

Cat litter, and dog faeces in a bag, should be thrown away rather than flushed down the toilet or drain. All feline litter is constructed of a clay-based material that, when wet and dried enough times, can harden like concrete; the litter pieces are sharp and quickly grab on other objects, increasing the likelihood of a clog.

What Are the Main Plumbing Components

Modern plumbing refers to the various interrelated systems we rely on for comfort, convenience, cleanliness, and, to some extent, safety in our homes.

 Just a few plumbing components include toilets, sinks, bathtubs, showers, garbage disposals, and dishwashers. Refrigerators, septic tanks, water supplies, filters, water heaters, washing machines, sprinklers, pumps, insulators, pipelines, levers, seals, and couplings are among the other items on the list.

Signs of a Possible Clog

Drain blockage outside or inside can cause clogs in any plumbing system component. Some signs are more clear than others, partly since so much of the system is hidden beneath the ground or behind walls where we can't see it. 

When water or sewage backs up into a toilet, sink, bathtub, or any other location inside or outside, particularly in low areas like basement toilets and showers. When water hits a clog in a sewer or water pipe, oxygen is released, resulting in bubbles that produce noise and even discharge odorous odours. A blockage can also be identified by slow drainage, unpleasant odours, low pressure, gurgling noises, and water overflow.

Preventative Measures: What You Can Do

In terms of maintenance, nothing beats a subsurface video examination to ensure that none of the pipes has developed fractures or other breaches. A thorough video inspection might assist prospective home buyers to learn about a home's plumbing history or locate and retrieve a valuable item that has been misplaced. 

Cameras have mostly replaced all the diggings, ripping, and disruption of the previous clog-clearing and problem-solving approaches. Because service or other attention may be directed to exactly where it's needed, a video inspection minimises guessing and costly repairs. The camera can pan around to highlight adjacent conditions or run across the complete system of pipes. It can also illuminate the area and look at a specific piece.

drain blockage Preventative Measures: What You Can Do

Precautions such as placing a lined trash can within arm's reach of the toilet can also assist. Customers expect to be able to change their children in a dedicated place and dispose of the trash promptly and without fuss in commercial settings; therefore, this is a typical feature.

If you keep this standard in your restroom, no one will be tempted to "simply flush" a feminine hygiene product or a baby nappy. Place a plunger next to each toilet, so it's never far away when you need it. 

A toilet overflow is one of the least desirable methods for a plumbing system to respond to a crisis. If something strange happens to go down the pipe, it's probably best to call a plumber straight away rather than plunge, which could merely push the object further down the line or lodge it even tighter in the pipe.

Most water-using appliances in a home or business, including toilets and sinks, will have an individual cutoff valve so that each one may be shut off separately. Depending on how a home is set up, it could be a lever or wheel-type handle connecting to the main water line in the basement, garage, or utility closet. 

Every home, especially those with a public water supply, has a shutdown valve on the inside and typically outside as well. When a clog or blockage causes a backlog in the main line, removing the cap on the sewer cleanout pipe might relieve some of the pressure on the system. 

If one exists, it will be in the yard, usually in the form of a white pipe protruding from the ground not far from the structure. This can also be used to check for a clog or obstruction in the main drain. If water pours out after the cap is removed, the main may be blocked.

DIY Drain Blockage Solutions

You can do a few things at home to unclog your drains. Examine visible parts of the drain for hair, scale, or foreign objects, and then pour a panful of hot water down the sinks. 

Pour a pitcher of water down a non-flushing toilet; then use a plunger to apply the specified amount of drain cleaner, avoiding multiple applications - make sure to use the correct plunger for the job, as a sink plunger will not work on a toilet and vice versa.

Hire a Professional Drain Expert

If you experience blocked drains regularly, you may need to make some lifestyle changes. This article's advice should have been useful. 

Check out our advice on how to unclog a drain if you currently have one. Alternatively, if you've exhausted all of your options, contact a professional drain expert today.

If you need help with blocked drains in Redcar, Darlington, Hartlepool, East Cleveland get in touch today. Call 01325 609028 for emergency drain unblocking near you.