A blocked drain can quickly escalate from a minor inconvenience to a costly home repair problem if not addressed promptly. When water and other materials are unable to flow through drains as intended, they will begin backing up into surrounding areas.
Over time, an unresolved drain clog can lead to flooded floors, warped floorboards, damaged drywall and more severe water issues. Beyond the structural damage, standing water also creates an ideal mould growth environment, posing health risks.
This blog post will explore the problems blocked drains can cause, from minor backup issues to extensive water damage. We’ll discuss signs that a drain may be clogged and provide tips for preventing blockages. We aim to help homeowners understand the importance of maintaining clear drains and what to do if a backup occurs.
Common Causes of Blocked Drains
Several common culprits can cause drains to become blocked over time. Hair is one of the biggest offenders, as hair shed from washing and bathing can make its way into sinks and shower drains.
The thin strands easily wrap around pipe walls and collect until a clog forms. Food scraps are also frequent drain blockers, particularly in garbage disposals and sink pipes connected to them.
Other debris like grease, paper towels, diapers, toys and mud can also find their way down the drain and accumulate where the pipe diameter narrows. In addition, ageing infrastructure, like corrosion or root intrusions from trees outside, can disrupt drain flows.
Mineral buildup from hard water may coat the interior of pipes, gradually restricting water flow until a complete clog happens. Regular drain maintenance can help prevent the most common blockages caused by built-up waste and debris.
Signs and Symptoms of Blocked Drains
Some clear signs are that a drain may be blocked and require attention. Slow drainage is often one of the first noticeable symptoms, as water will take an unusually long to disappear completely.
Over time, drain backups can occur, where water begins pooling in sinks, tubs or showers instead of flowing away smoothly. A foul odour emanating from drains is another red flag, as trapped water can be a breeding ground for harmful bacteria.
You may also see backup into adjacent areas like overflowing water around the base of sinks, standing water in shower pans or pooling in basement floor drains. Increased water usage could also indicate a partial clog, as running more water puts additional pressure on a constrained drainage system. Paying attention to these warning signs and addressing potential blockages early can help avoid costly repairs from extensive water damage down the line.
Consequences of Blocked Drains to Your Home
A clogged drain left unaddressed can wreak havoc on a home. Beyond being a frustrating plumbing issue, backed-up water poses serious problems if allowed to persist. Here are some of the effects of blocked drainage on your home:
Standing water will increasingly damage flooring, drywall, insulation and even wood framing through warping and rotting as it soaks materials over long periods. This leads to costly repairs.
Moisture trapped behind walls or under floors can compromise your home’s structural integrity of load-bearing components as wood weakens. Foundations may also become destabilised.
Trapped water provides the perfect environment for moulds to thrive, potentially causing health issues for occupants like asthma or respiratory problems.
A poor drainage system can lead to discolouration and watermarks on surfaces in the house, messing with the aesthetics. Continual pressure from backups can damage drain pipes, joints and drainage systems over time, requiring replacement of extensive plumbing.
Decreased Property Value
Continued drainage issues and resulting water damage may lower a home’s appraised worth and salability. Potential buyers are rightfully wary of purchasing a "money pit."
When your drainage system is blocked for a long time, the waste materials start to rot, emitting a strong and unpleasant smell. Beyond just the smell emanating from clogged drains themselves, trapped sewer gases and microbial growth produce odours that permeate walls, flooring and furniture, making the entire home unpleasant.
Standing water attracts insects like mosquitos and can provide rodent access points as wet areas penetrate the home’s barrier. This introduces additional health hazards.
When water has nowhere else to go, it is forced to flow back into your home. Extreme blockages may cause backups into tubs, showers and floor drains as the system becomes overwhelmed, releasing waste throughout those areas.
Microbial growth and contaminated water pose ingestion and contact threats, particularly for young children and immunocompromised individuals in the home. Respiratory issues are also common.
Protracted or extensive damage from drain clogs may impact homeowners’ insurance rates or qualifications if claims exceed coverage limits. Preventing issues is ideal.
Homeowners can take some simple steps to help prevent drain clogs and backups from occurring. You can use techniques to care for less severe blockages at home without calling professionals.
One of them is to use drain cleaning chemicals. Here, you may pour the chemicals down the sink and then allow it to remain overnight. The next day, you can perform a test by pouring water down the sinkhole and checking if it flows at a steady speed.
Regular drain maintenance is also key - clearing out hair and debris from drains weekly using a drain snake or plunger can remove buildup before it becomes problematic.
Consider installing strainers in all drains to catch solids before they go down. Pouring 1/2 cup baking soda followed by 1/2 cup of white vinegar down each drain monthly can help cut through grease and soap scum buildup. Avoid putting food scraps, grease, oils, diapers or heavy objects like mashed potatoes down the drain. Use the trash for solid waste disposal instead.
Consider using drain covers where applicable to keep larger objects from entering pipes. Inspect exterior drains and vents regularly for signs of roots, cracks or corrosion. Proper venting of the drainage system is important for airflow and flow speeds. Staying on top of regular maintenance and cleaning minimises the risk of costly drain blockage issues in the long run.
Clearing the Path to a Healthy Home
Blocked drains pose serious risks to a home’s structure, plumbing system and occupants’ health if not addressed promptly when issues arise. As this blog post has discussed, the consequences of unresolved drain backups can range from inconvenient to extremely costly in terms of repairs, remediation and structural damage.
Homeowners need to be aware of signs that drains may be blocked and take preventative steps through regular maintenance. If you find yourself dealing with drain issues already, professional help is recommended to fully assess problems and properly remedy blockages.