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What Should I Do if My Drain is Overflowing?

Is your drain overflowing? Learn what to do when your drain is overflowing, from immediate action steps to identifying the cause. Discover DIY solutions and when to call a professional plumber.

An overflowing drain can be a homeowner’s worst nightmare, causing extensive water damage, potential health hazards, and great stress. Whether it’s a kitchen sink, a bathroom basin, a laundry drain, or a washing machine drain, blockages in your drainage pipes are often the culprits behind this plumbing emergency.

When left unchecked, a blocked drain can quickly lead to water overflowing, flooding your home and creating a myriad of problems. In this blog post, we’ll guide you through the essential steps to take when faced with an overflowing drain and share valuable preventive measures to keep your drains flowing smoothly, ensuring that you can avoid the nightmare of a drain overflow in the future.

Immediate Action Steps

Turn off the water supply

Locate the shut-off valve for the overflowing fixture and turn it off immediately. This will prevent more water from contributing to the overflow.

Remove standing water

Use a bucket, mop, or wet vacuum to remove water from the affected area. Doing this will minimise water damage and make it easier to identify the source of the blockage.

Clear visible blockages

If you can see foreign objects or debris blocking the drain opening, put on protective gloves and remove them carefully. Avoid using chemical drain cleaners at this stage, as they can cause damage to your plumbing system.

Identifying the Cause

Overflowing drains can have various causes, ranging from simple clogs to more complex issues within your drainage system. Here are some common reasons behind a blocked drain:

Sink Filling Water Verflow

Hair and Soap Scum Buildup

Over time, hair, soap scum, and other debris can accumulate in your drainage pipes, causing blockages that lead to overflowing drains. This is especially common in bathroom sinks, showers, and bathtubs, where hair mixes with soap scum to form a sticky mess.

Foreign Objects Stuck Inside the Drain

Small items like jewellery, toys, or food scraps can slip down the drain and become lodged, creating a blockage. In the kitchen, grease and oil solidify on the inner walls of the drainage pipe, further attracting debris and causing clogs. Pouring cooking fats down the drain can worsen this situation.

Tree Root Infiltration

Another sneaky culprit is tree roots. If trees are near your property, their roots can infiltrate sewer lines, growing into cracks and eventually causing blockages. These root invasions can damage pipes and require professional help to clear and repair.

Malfunctioning Garbage Disposal (if applicable)

If your kitchen sink is overflowing and you have a garbage disposal, it may be malfunctioning or clogged with food particles. Avoid putting fibrous or starchy foods down the disposal to prevent blockages.

Warning Signs of a Clogged Drain (even without overflow)

Even without an overflow, foul-smelling water can sometimes detect a clogged drain. This indicates that organic matter decomposes within the drainage pipe and may indicate a blockage forming. If you notice this unpleasant odour or suspect a clog, it’s best to address the issue promptly to prevent an overflow. Remember, the drain from an overflowing washing machine can cause significant water damage, so address any slow drainage there.

DIY Solutions for Minor Clogs

When faced with a minor clog causing your drain to overflow, you can try several DIY methods before calling a professional plumber. These techniques can help you save time and money while effectively resolving the issue.


Plunging is often the go-to solution for minor clogs. First, ensure enough water in the sink or basin to cover the plunger’s head, creating a proper seal. Position the plunger over the drain and use firm, rapid strokes to create suction. The force generated by the plunger can help dislodge the blockage, allowing water to flow freely through the pipes once again.

Drain Snake or Auger

If plunging doesn’t do the trick, a drain auger can effectively remove more stubborn blockages. This flexible, coiled wire can navigate through the twists and turns of your drain pipes to reach the clog.

Feed the snake into the drain line until you feel resistance, then slowly poke and twist to break up the blockage. Drain snakes are available at most hardware stores, making them a convenient DIY solution. You can also use a wire hanger as a DIY drain snake.

Natural Solutions

For those who prefer a more natural approach, combining boiling water, baking soda, and vinegar can work wonders on minor clogs. Start by pouring a pot of boiling water down the drain to help dissolve the blockage.

Next, pour a mixture of baking soda and vinegar into the drain and let it sit for about 30 minutes. The chemical reaction between these two ingredients can help break down the clog. Finally, flush the drain with hot water to rinse away the loosened debris. You may need to repeat this process a few times for stubborn blockages.

When to Call a Professional Plumber

While DIY solutions can be effective for minor clogs, there are situations when it’s best to call a professional plumber to handle your overflowing drain issue. One such scenario is when persistent clogs affect multiple drains.

Fixing Overflowing Drain

If you experience recurring drain blockages or multiple drains overflowing simultaneously, it may indicate a more serious problem within your plumbing system. In these cases, a professional plumber has the expertise and specialised tools to diagnose and resolve the issue effectively.

Another situation that warrants professional intervention is when you suspect a sewer line blockage. If your main sewer line is blocked, it can cause foul-smelling water to back up into your drains and lead to overflowing. Sewer line blockages can be caused by various factors, such as tree roots infiltrating the pipes, collapsed pipes, or an accumulation of debris. Resolving these issues often requires professional repair or pipe relining techniques beyond DIY solutions’ scope.

If your drain overflows and causes significant water damage or poses health risks due to unsanitary conditions, it’s crucial to call a professional plumber immediately. Water damage can quickly escalate, leading to structural issues, mould growth, and other costly problems. An experienced plumber can safely clean up the affected area, mitigate further damage, and restore your property to a safe and healthy condition.

Preventive Measures

Maintaining a consistent drain cleaning and maintenance routine prevents clogs and overflows throughout your plumbing system, including washing machine drain overflows. Scheduling routine drain cleaning with a drain auger or professional service helps remove build-up from your drainage pipes before it has a chance to accumulate and cause blockages. This proactive approach can save you from the hassle and expense of dealing with more severe clogs down the line. Additionally, using a drain screen or hair catcher effectively traps debris before entering your pipes, reducing the risk of clogs.

Proper waste disposal is another key aspect of preventing drain issues. It’s essential to avoid flushing items like paper towels, sanitary products, or food particles down your drains, as these items can quickly lead to blockages. It’s best to dispose of grease and oil in the kitchen trash rather than pour them down the sink. When grease and oil cool, they can solidify and adhere to the inside of your pipes, gradually narrowing the passage and increasing the likelihood of clogs.

Overflowing Drain

Regular maintenance is crucial for preventing drain overflows, especially a washing machine drain overflow. Clean your washing machine’s lint bag regularly to prevent fibres from clogging the drain pipe. Over time, lint and debris can accumulate in the pipe, reducing water flow and potential blockages that can cause overflows.

Additionally, ensure that the washing machine hose is securely connected and in good condition to avoid leaks and overflows. A damaged or loose hose can cause water to spill onto the floor, potentially causing water damage and contributing to drain issues.

Finally, remember your outdoor drainage system. Keep your outdoor drains clear of leaves, garden waste, and other debris to prevent blockages. Regularly inspect and clean your gutters and downspouts to ensure proper water flow from your foundation. Clogged gutters can cause water to overflow and pool around your home, potentially leading to foundation damage and drainage problems.

Tackling Overflowing Drains with the Right Approach

Overflowing drains can be a frustrating and potentially damaging issue for homeowners. By understanding the common causes, implementing DIY solutions for minor clogs, and knowing when to call a professional plumber, you can effectively address this problem and protect your property.

Regular drain cleaning and maintenance are essential for preventing clogs and ensuring the longevity of your plumbing system. Adopting good habits and staying proactive can minimise the risk of overflowing drains and avoid costly repairs.

If you’re in the Sydney area and facing a persistent or severe overflowing drain issue, don’t hesitate to contact the experts at Fixed Today Plumbing. Our team of licensed and experienced plumbers is equipped with the knowledge and tools to diagnose and resolve your plumbing problems efficiently. Whether emergency repairs or routine maintenance, Fixed Today Plumbing is here to help.

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