Is there a gross whiff in the wind? Does your toilet talk to you with unusual gurgles and glugs?
Your drains could be blocked. Knowing how to spot the early signs makes drain cleaning much easier—and it’s far cheaper than leaving the problem to get worse.
This guide will help you identify potential causes of your blocked drains—and signs you need the help of a professional to get rid of that stench!
What Causes Drain Blockages?
Drain blockages can be sudden or build up over time. A sudden blockage can be caused by heavy rain flooding the drainage system or something that shouldn’t be flushed down a toilet (like a diaper).
Slow blockages happen because of hair, grease, and other items building up in the pipes over time. Other problems, such as leaves in the fall, cause both sudden and slow blockages.
The problem might not be your immediate drain, either. Problems in the main sewer pipe can cause smelly drains and sewage backing up into your home. If this happens, call the environmental council immediately.
Signs Your Drain Needs Professional Attention
From flooded sinks to a distinctive sink, there are signs your drains need more than a bit of Drain-O to solve the issue. If you spot any—or several—of these symptoms, it’s time to call a professional to solve the problem.
Perhaps your drain snake now lives by the sink because it clogs on such a regular basis. Or your toilet plunger sits proudly in the bathroom because it’s needed every time you flush.
If one, or several, drains in your home keep clogging up, it’s a sign of a problem further down the drainage system. You’ll need a professional to use their equipment to investigate the cause of the blockage.
If your water drains away but takes its sweet time to do so, this is a sign you’ve got a partial blockage. Be quick and act now: a slow-moving drain soon turns into a no-moving drain and you’ll face clogging and flooding.
Try using a drain snake to clear the immediate drain pipe of clogs. If the problem persists, the blockage is deep in the system and you need expert help.
Flies Near Your Drains
Fruit and drain flies aren’t just annoying: they’re a sign something is wrong. If you see tiny flies hanging around your external drains or drainage pipes, this is a warning sign that a blockage is building up.
They feed off the gross stuff in your drains: if you’re plagued by flies, especially in the bathroom, this is a sign there’s a growing problem in your pipes.
Water Backing Up Into Plugholes or Toilets
Does water come back up your plugholes? Perhaps you’ve noticed a backflow in your toilet (often a brown color that looks like a rust stain in the u-bend).
This could be a problem with a blocked wastewater pipe in your home. This is often caused by things being flushed that shouldn’t be, such as sanitary products or wet wipes.
If multiple plugholes or toilets have this problem, it’s more likely to be a problem with the main sewer. It also happens in apartments, sometimes, so speak to your building manager about it.
A Seriously Bad Smell
Blocked drains have a noticeable smell. This is caused by sewage, rotting leaves, degrading grease, or a combination of all the above. What would normally wash away is left to fester and decompose in-situ.
If your bathroom has an odd stench to it whenever you walk in, or your kitchen sink wafts a gross stench when you do the dishes, you’ve got a drain problem that needs expert attention.
Problems with Multiple Drains in Your Home
When just one drain clogs, it means the most likely cause is a blockage high up in the pipe.
However, if several drains clog or back up frequently, there’s a much bigger problem in your main drainage system. A blockage in your main pipes means water can’t drain away as it should – and so it finds alternative routes to escape.
This means you could find one plughole draining slowly while another starts to back up with water!
Drain Cleaning Tips to Eliminate Ghastly Smells
While you need a professional drain cleaner to solve your immediate problem, there are things you can do to prevent the issue of stinky drains in the future.
Huge hairballs easily matt together to cause big blockages. Use plughole traps in every sink, shower, and bathtub to prevent hair clogging up the drains. They’re also a lifesaver if you accidentally drop an earring or ring in the sink – we’ve all done it!
Run hot water through every plughole every week. This is easily done with most, such as the kitchen sink or bathtub, but any sinks used infrequently – such as in the guest bathroom – also need to be run through to prevent smells.
Make sure you use a high-grade enzyme drain cleaner every few months. This will help to break down the collection of hair, grease, and other unthinkable things in your pipes.
Annual professional drain cleaning will help eliminate the build-up of residue like grease and grime which contributes to the bad smell. They’ll also spot potential issues, such as cracked drainage pipes before they become a big, stinky, and expensive problem.
Read More Home Maintenance and Improvement Tips
Regular drain cleaning is just one item on a long list of household tasks to keep your home looking (and smelling!) great.
The stuff you need to do as a homeowner can easily get overwhelming. The repairs you put off doing, the repainting that takes years to complete – we’ve all been there.
But you’ll enjoy your home so much more if you tackle these tough-but-necessary home maintenance jobs. Be inspired and find the motivation to complete your renovations and improvements: read our home and gardens blogs!