Our drains might not be top of our list of priorities when it comes to home improvements, but maintaining drain systems are vital to the smooth running of your home. We rely on our drain systems every day; whether it´s having a shower, doing the washing up or getting a drink of water, and a blocked toilet or blocked sink can be extremely invconvenient. As drainage and sewer systems are hidden underground, it can sometimes be difficult to tell when there´s an issue until it escalates. However, it’s important not to ignore any drain problems, for both health and practical reasons, so see our guide below for five warning signs that you need to hire drain repair contractors.
Why are drain systems so important?
As mentioned above, a healthy drain system is vital for keeping your home sanitary and safe, and a seemingly small issue can soon escalate into a serious problem. Water damage can be catastrophic for your home, but a good drainage system is a way to drastically reduce the chance of leaks or flooding. Even a small leak can cause damage to ceilings, pipes, or cause water to seep into floors and walls which can lead to mold. A faulty drain system can also lead to stagnant water pooling outside, which could encourage the presence of insects and affect the quality of your lawn if you have a garden.
Basements are particularly prone to flooding if you have problems with your drains, which can lead to both structural damage and a variety of health problems. A damp environment encourages the growth of mold, which can cause a whole host of health issues including respiratory problems, allergic reactions or asthma. Structural damage caused by water is also a serious problem, and even a small leak can weaken concrete, wood or drywall over an extended period of time. Concrete can crumble or crack and damp wood becomes prone to pests like termites or woodworm which cause a lot of damage if left untreated.
Signs your drains need attention
Here we will outline some warning signs to look out for which indicate that your drains need cleaning or repair. It’s always better to catch problems early, so don’t wait until a drain is completely clogged before getting the help you need.
This is usually one of the first things people notice if theyŕe having drain problems, so keep an eye on your sinks, bath and toilet for any signs of sluggish draining. If running water is taking a long time to go down the plug hole, or even backing up from the pipes into your sink or bath, this indicates that you probably have a clogged drain pipe. Pipe damage can also cause slow draining or backups, and in these cases the pipe will need to be repaired or replaced entirely.
It’s always best to sort out a slow drain issue sooner rather than later, it might seem like more of an inconvenience than a serious issue but it can soon escalate and cause more severe problems. Bathrooms and kitchen sinks tend to be the most common areas affected due to buildups of soap scum, cooking oil or other cosmetic products washed down the drain. Over time, these build up and narrow the width of the pipes, causing the water to drain away more slowly – it’s a common occurrence but regular drain cleaning will help keep things flowing nicely.
In minor cases, you may be able to fix the clog yourself with a plunger, metal ´snake´ tool or drain cleaner. If you´re worried about using harsh chemicals then you can make your own drain unblocker using household ingredients like baking soda and vinegar; simply pour down the clogged drain, leave to sit for around 15 minutes and then flush the drains with boiling water.
If these methods don´t work and your water is still draining slowly, you will need to contact a professional drain contractor. Many companies use advanced methods such as a CCTV drain survey to identify the cause of the blockage as quickly and accurately as possible. In most cases, for both domestic and commercial drains, high pressure water jetting is the most effective professional method; powerful streams of water are able to blast through a clog or push it further down the line out of harm’s way.
Any type of bad smell in your home is unwelcome and unpleasant, but a bad drain smell is often the first sign that something isn’t functioning as it should. There are a few different situations that can cause an unpleasant smelling drain, which we will discuss below.
As mentioned, kitchen and bathroom drains tend to bear the brunt of drainage problems as they are the ones being used most frequently, and they can be prone to buildups of unpleasant waste such as hair, cooking grease, soap or food waste. In mild cases, the smell can usually be eliminated by clearing the blockage using the methods above (hot water, bleach, baking soda or vinegar), but you will need to contact the professionals if the smell lingers. It’s rare, but in some cases a bad smell could be caused by a missing soil vent pipe; a vertical pipe which directs sewage and odours away from the home. It’s very unlikely that an occupied building won’t have one of these, but check for malfunctions if the smells persist.
A backed up sewer is another potential cause of bad smells; sewers can become blocked if items such as cotton buds, wet wipes, grease or sanitary products get caught in the pipes. This causes a backup of sewage which leads to bad smells entering the surrounding area. In almost all cases you will need to call a drain company who can carry out a CCTV inspection; you will need to call them yourself if the blockage is within the boundaries of your property, if it lies beyond then the local council should handle it for you.
Sudden pools of water, either inside or outside, are a sign that your drainage system has sprung a leak in one of the pipes near the surface. While a slow drain can be an inconvenience, standing pools of water in your sink, bath or outside the house indicate a much more serious problem. As discussed above, leaking pools of water can cause not only structural damage, but a variety of health problems, especially if any members of your household suffer from asthma or other respiratory problems.
Household drain systems are not designed to carry anything other than waste water and biodegradable items like toilet paper, so make sure you´re not flushing anything else to prevent the chances of waste water flooding. If you do find a pool of water it’s recommended that you mop the excess liquid and apply detergent within 12 hours (for indoor pools) or 24 if the flooding is outdoors. In any case you should call a professional as soon as possible; many drain contractors offer a 24/7 service so you can recieve rapid help in case of emergency.
Low water pressure
Good water pressure is crucial when it comes to ensuring that your drains are flushing waste water through the system effectively. Low water pressure can be caused by clogged pipes, and it’s likely that you’ll notice it straight away if your shower or taps are producing a measly trickle of water or the toilet isn’t flushing as effectively. Whatever the reason behind your low water pressure, if it doesn’t improve after a few hours it’s always best to call someone out; in some cases it can be the sign of something much more serious like a broken drain pipe, which can lead to drain collapse or overflow.
A sudden increase in your water bill is not just a pain financially, but a possible sign that your drains are leaking somewhere. If you´ve ruled out other potential causes like extra guests or a new dishwasher, then it’s worth calling a drain service to check for hidden leaks. Continuous running water from a lavatory can waste a whopping 200 gallons of water a day, so it’s vital to get this fixed as soon as possible. Some leaks can be diagnosed by simply listening for running water, or put a few drops of food colouring into the tank – if colour is present in the toilet bowl after around 20 minutes then you have a leak.
If you´ve noticed any of the warning signs above and are in need of professional drain contractors, get in touch with Mitchell & Mayle. Our drain specialists are on hand to provide a full range of services, from CCTV surveys to installation or emptying of septic tanks and wastewater management. Whether you need drain clearance or drain repairs, we´re on hand 24/7 to handle those emergencies, so give us a call today on 01353 687 984 or visit our website.