Running water inside the house started off as a novelty and a luxury for those fortunate few who were wealthy enough to afford it. Nowadays, we know that water will come out of the faucet whenever we want it. So, when we’re done, we know that the wastewater will magically disappear.
Things can go wrong with both these processes: the water supply to the faucets in your home and the efficient removal of wastewater. When there’s a problem with the water supply, there’s typically nothing the homeowner can do about it. Still, when there’s a problem with waste water drainage, homeowners are responsible for their own drain cleaning. It’s up to you to sort it out and fast before dirty water starts leaking into your floors or walls.
Households generate two kinds of wastewater: gray water and sewage. Sewage is all the waste from your toilet, and gray water is everything else. Gray water includes the water draining out of your washer and dishwasher and all the water that goes down the drain when you bath, shower, wash your hands, or brush your teeth.
We may use the term wastewater, but if you think about it, the water part is the least of anybody’s problems. If drains were used to drain away water only, they’d almost never get blocked. However, when your gray water goes down the drain, it’s full of particles. These include food particles from the kitchen, skin cells, hairs, and soap from the bath, shower, and washer. Water pipes are ideal for just that: carrying water. However, when there are too many particles in the water, your drains can quickly become blocked. Test the integrity of your water pipes using trusted hydrostatic test kits.
Identifying a Drainage Problem
In most cases, the first sign that all isn’t well with your drain will be that the water flows out more slowly than normal. The most likely reason is a blockage formed by those accumulated particles mentioned above, and the easiest potential solution would be to remove the blockage yourself. Sometimes you can see a plug of hair in the shower drain, for example – in which case, go ahead and get the hair out, using your fingers or some tool (maybe a knife, or a pair of tweezers or something).
If there’s no blockage that you can easily see and remove, you may need professional help. It’s a good idea to call in a drain cleaning specialist right away because the longer your wastewater is prevented from draining away correctly, the more chance there’s that your house could get flooded.
Sewer lines can also become blocked. Material that’s flushed down the toilet can contribute to blocking sewers, but another problem that affects sewer lines particularly is tree roots. Sewer pipes conduct waste away from the house, through your yard, and then usually connect with the other homes nearby. In order to do this, the pipes often run through gardens and in between trees. So, in this case, the tree roots can spell disaster for the pipes.
This is usually more of a problem in older neighborhoods, where the trees have had time to grow extremely large, and their roots often penetrate very deep underground. Just as gently dripping water can slowly wear away hard rock, so slowly growing tree roots can eventually crack open your pipes.
Professional drain cleaners tackle the problem of tree roots by inserting a rotating blade into the affected sewer lines.
Blocked drains can cause serious problems in your home. However, with regular maintenance, drain blockages can be minimized. Remember, prevention is always better than cure!