Don’t Get Too Flushed This Summer!

A selection of different wet wipes

The summer is a particularly bad time to get a blocked drain, as in the heat the bacteria and odours can grow rapidly. If you are experiencing any slow drainage or smells building up, you’d be wise to act promptly. One of the key places to get blocked around the home can be the toilet and there are many debates about what you should and shouldn’t flush.

Prevention

Whilst the Drain Guys can rapidly come and fix any issues you encounter, its definitely better not to get blocked pipes in the first place. Here’s our guide to the top causes of toilet blockages and things you should consider as you flush.

The Wet Wipe Issue

A modern solution – disposable, convenient, hygienic; you can now get wet wipes for everything from cleaning your face to your kitchen surfaces. But wet wipes and the flush issue have become controversial, particularly the moist toilet wipes many of which are labelled as ‘flushable’.

At the end of last year, the BBC carried out some research and found that all wipes sold as ‘flushable’ had currently failed the disintegration tests of the water industry. Some sources cited by the BBC state that 93% of blockages in UK sewers are caused by wet wipes; so they can certainly cause problems in homes and offices too. The government and manufacturers are yet to agree a flushable standard, so until you can be sure, its better to bin them

All bathroom products and toiletries are for the bin.

Indeed only basic toilet paper should be flushed. And you might want to teach your kids to consider how much they put down the loo. Certainly cotton wool, cotton buds and other hygiene products should be binned, as these swell up and enlarge in water and won’t disintegrate. Dental floss seems so small, but if you keep flushing it, it can wrap around things and create a net-like effect.

You should remember that it is often about build up. Your toilet may not instantly block with one item but bits collect and stick together. Think of the London fatberg – 250 metres long!

The 3 Ps

So we go along with the advice to only flush the 3 Ps. One of these is toilet paper, We’ll leave you to work out the other 2! Should anyone in your family fail to heed this advice and cause you a blockage, then give us a call and we’ll flush your problems away.

Be Nice to your Drains!

Kitchen sink

Drains really are one of those things everyone takes for granted. We don’t see them; we really don’t even think about them and so we are often not very nice to them. But what would we do without them?

A Drain is a Drain

Well not really. We have internal drainage in our homes like the type you find in your sink or bath but we also have drainage coming from dishwashers, washing machines and more. We also have external drains and these are often the ones where the big problems can occur. While we may notice a slow draining bath because of too much hair most people would never even think about the drain that goes from their house to the main sewer pipe in the road. But they are all linked and treating one badly can have knock on effects and cause big problems with the other. This problem works both ways too! By blocking an internal drain you can block an external drain but an blocked external drain can cause all manner of issues inside the home too.

An Case in Point – Worthing

A few weeks ago we attended a call out in Worthing where the customer was reporting slow draining sinks in the house and an odd smell outside. We do a lot of blocked drain work in Worthing but this case was an interesting one. The issue was around a fat and baby wipe build up on the main drain outside the home. They had been putting hot fat down the sink after a Sunday fry up every week for months and months which is bad enough. However, a recent arrival of a baby meant a huge number of non-biodegradable baby wipes had been added to this via the toilet. The result?….a big blockage. Eventually the fat would have caused a big issue but it was the perfect storm when the added material got involved too.

Common Problems

Of course, Worthing isn’t the only place this kind of issue happens , these issues are very common across the UK and beyond! The cause of most of the issues is simply that people do not know what they should and should not put down the sink or toilet. Most of the time if it doesn’t block there and then people assume it is OK but more often than not it is the cumulative effect that causes the issue and not a single event.

What Should You Do?

First of all do not put fats and oils down the sink – this blog post explains why in more detail –Fats and Oils

But on top of that try to avoid mashing too much food after washing up, use a plug catcher to get the worst of the food and put it in the bin. Foods like pasta, cereal and rice can cause a lot of problems. Avoid putting baby wipes in the toilet, it is hard but they can really cause some big problems. The key really is to think before you put anything into your drainage system. if it can possibly be removed and put into the bin then do it because the less solid or waste likely to solidify that goes into the drains the better.

Be nice to your drains and whilst we do love to be busy we also appreciate you may not really want to call us so the nicer you are to your drains the less likely you are to need us!

 

 

Damp in Your Home Could Be Caused By Blocked or Damaged Pipework

Damp isn’t really something people in hotter countries have to worry about but it is certainly a common problem in the UK. Our “lovely” temperate climate means we get wet winters, and quite humid summers….oh and often wet summers too! In fact generally we get a lot of rain most of the year. However, damp isn’t always caused by rain and moisture in the air it can actually be caused by damaged pipework and plumbing and even blocked drains.

damp

Mysterious Damp Area

A lot of people have a part of the house that seems prone to damp patches. The mould and growth is often wiped away or just managed with chemicals but the cause of it can be serious enough to warrant some action. What can happen is pipework behind the wall can leak and this allows water into the wall cavity or the plaster. It can happen in such small amounts initially that it doesn’t cause much of an issue and this is where the damp patch comes from.

Act Now

Because this process is often very slow people tend to ignore it but it can and will only get worse so it is best to speak to us right away and see what can be done. The pipe could eventually break and completely fail but even if that doesn’t happen the slow steady ingress of water will gradually cause more and more damage to the wall itself.

Other Causes

What can also happen is a blocked bath, shower or even external drain can cause water to stay in the pipes which eventually make them more prone to leakage. Even a tiny amount of moisture can start to cause a damp issue and given enough time will create a problem.

Our team of experts are skilled in all things drain related from unblocking to repairing external drains to working on baths, sinks, toilets and showers as well as general plumbing and heating. This broad range of skills mean we have seen it all and can help with damp problems caused by plumbing issues.

Have I Got A Collapsed Drain?

We see a lot of different issues with drains as you might imagine. However, one of the worst things that can happen to a properties drains is a collapse. The problem with a collapsed drain, apart from the repair issue is actually knowing it has happened. Below are a few signs you may need to get us in to have a look. We are able to use CCTV technology to survey the drain it self and identify the issue.

Slow Drains

Although certainly not just a sign of a collapse if all your drainage seems to slow quite quickly over a couple of days then it is a strong sign part of the drain could have collapsed. Blockages tend to build slowly unless it is a single item which is causing the issue.

Sewage Smell

Again, not a fool proof sign but if you can smell waste in the garden and even in the house it could well be from the fact the drain is simply not working at all. But rather than backing up the waste water may be leaking out into the foundations and surrounding substrate.

Damp

Another issue related to the previous sign is signs of damp appearing. Because the waste water it not leaving the property it may well cause damp patches to appear around the house. These may be found on the floor or walls; damp can be cause by various things but combined with other symptoms mentioned here could be a strong clue about a collapse.

Extreme Signs

If a collapsed drain is left for a long time there are a number of more extreme signs you may see. These are important if you are viewing a new property because you may not be able to asses when the other issues started. One sign is cracking and damage to the building, the end result of this can be subsidence. This is caused where the water is leaking into the foundations for a long period of time. It can undermine the structural integrity of the building itself but also driveways and patios. You may see cracking in the walls, but look out for cracked driveways too.

Ultimately if you have a drain issue it is best to call us because catching things early is always the key. The best case is that it’s a simple blockage that we can fix easily. It may even be a damaged pipe where a root has finally grown through; whatever it is we can help. But if it is a collapse it is critical we identify it and help organise remedial work as soon as possible.

Contact our friendly team today if you are concerned about your drains.

 

We Find Some Odd Things Blocking Drains

It will come as no surprise that we find all sorts of odd things blocking drains and generally causing issues. However, on a recent job we found something we had not come across before.

The Issue

A person contacted us saying that two drain companies had been to help them over the last few weeks and nothing had changed. Their storm drain had been blocking repeatedly and no one seemed to be able to work out why. The other companies had come and tried various things but none seemed to have used any cameras to see the full picture.

Camera Team

Our CCTV systems are very useful when it comes to looking down deep into drains and pipes to see what is causing the issue. What used to be a job involving a lot of assumption, experience and a bit of guess work is now much more accurate. In this case the customer was very pleased to see this new weapon in what was becoming quite a long battle.

The Offending Item

After a few minutes of working the camera down the 9 inch storm drain our guys came across a round white object. It took them a minute or two to figure out what it was…yes you guessed it. It was a football and it was sitting squarely over the drainage hole. What had been happening was that as water went down it sometimes floated and move around and other time as the pressure built it got sucked against the hole. So the issue was intermittent and also tricky to diagnose without actually seeing it.

CCTV drain image of football

Back to Normal

Once the issue was identified the ball was removed completely and flow was restored. The customer was delighted and so were our team. It is always great to put an end to an ongoing problem and even better when our lovely CCTV gear proves itself useful once again!

Other Items

We have seen a lot of silly things put down drains from nappies, fats and oils to clothing, toys and more. But there are some famous items that really take the biscuit.

  •  In 2014 during a huge £14 million investment into the London drains half a mini was found…yes that is half an entire car!
  • In the US a 20 foot Alligator was found in a storm drain in 2007!
  • In 2015 Scottish water found a Fax machine in a drain. Not only is it an odd thing to put down there but where do you even get one these days?

Although we are very happy to come and repair the damage caused by odd things being put down the drain it is always wise to stop and think before you flush or try and get something down the sink. The risk of blocking, flooding and costly damage is a big one and it is one easily avoided.

Get In Touch if you have an ongoing drain problem that no one seems to be able to fix, we probably can!

Why Are CCTV Drain Surveys So Good?

CCTV drain survey

Whilst we appreciate drains are perhaps not something everyone wants to talk about all the time the recent growth in CCTV drain surveys really is an interesting one and certainly one that makes a lot of our customers very happy.

What’s Down There?

Having a blocked drain can be quit stressful, it is something that can really play on the mind of people. The issue is the mystery, not knowing what is causing the blockage can really cause a lot of worry. “Could it be costly?”, “will it go away?”. Then others questions arise like “Will I need to call the insurance company” and “what if this heavy rain forecast causes a damaging flood?” All of this can really be quite worrying so when we arrive with our CCTV equipment ready to identify the issue and fix it customers seem very happy indeed.

How Does it Work?

Well, as amazing as it is, CCTV Drain Surveys are not rocket science in terms of how it all works. They are, however, quite tricky to use and not something just anyone can master. The process involves all the usual jobs like finding the manhole cover, setting out all the equipment and opening up the drain. The next step is to start feeding the camera down into the drain to see what the problem is. We can look into very small drains, even down to 50mm so this is not just something for major issues. While the camera is moving along it is recording and sending a feed back to the surface. The images are high resolution and very good quality which is critical if we are going to accurately see what the issue is.

What Happens Next?

There are two main things that happen after the camera has been down the problematic drain. The first is that sometimes we can clearly see the issue and we can set about fixing it. The other is that we need to take the footage back to DG HQ and go through it forensically looking for the problem. In the second instance we produce a DVD or a USB stick with all the video on it for the customer. We then send it to them to discuss the issues we have found which could be tree roots, broken pipes and other similar issues. Part of this process is to also advise and quote on the repair work with a swift and long lasting resolution in mind!

CCTV Drain Surveys really are brilliant, they allow us to see what we could never see before and get tot he bottom of issues for customers faster and far cheaper. If you have a drain mystery then get in touch and let us solve it for you!

 

Drain Cleaning Chemicals are not Always Good Idea

2 sodium hypochlorite

If you have a drainage issue at home or in the work place it is all too easy to buy some heavy duty “block busting” chemical and throw it all down the offending plug hole. But there are a few considerations to think about before leaping to this decision and some are quite important!

Money Down The Drain

Most sink unblocking magic remedies are expensive and a lot of the time they simply don’t work. While trying to get a drain moving you could easily try 3 or 4 different solutions and see only marginal benefit only to then find it blocked again in a few weeks.

The Environment

There are a number of different angles to the environmental impact of drain clearing chemicals. Many are not considered pollutants because they break down on contact with water but there is evidence that large amounts of the various chemicals on offer can cause harm to wildlife. There is, of course, the added issue of the production of the products and the containers. If you add both factors together buying a bottle or four of sink unblocker and chucking it down the drain doesn’t sound such a good idea.

Keeping Poisons

If you have small children you will know they literally get into everything and having bottles of highly toxic chemicals hanging around under the sink is really not a great idea. Even if they are well secured it is still something most people would rather they didn’t have around. There is also the safety aspect of actually using these things. It is pretty easy to get a little splash in the eye and end up having to take a trip to A&E.

Professionals

This is by no means a suggestion that calling the Drain Guys is the only way to deal with a blocked drain but it is the best. There are two reasons for this:

  1. We do not need to use harmful chemicals to get the job done.
  2. When we do it, it’s done properly and is far less likely to be an issue in the near future unless you continually keep putting bad things down your drains of course.

If you have a blocked drain get in touch today, we can fix the problem properly and without the use of lots of nasty chemicals. It is a greener way to do it and likely to be the best in the long run.

 

Fats and Oils – How They Block Drains and How to Prevent it Happening

 

cooking fat

The world beyond the plug hole is so often one that most people never even think about. It is almost as though people consider it some kind of magical portal where once something passes through it no longer exists. Well, sadly, everything that goes down the plug most definitely still exists and when it comes to oils and fat from cooking it can become a very serious problem.

Whether you run a commercial kitchen in a restaurant or something like a care home or you are just a budding chef at home the problems and issues are the same and they are not good!

Fats and Oils Change

We all know what fat looks like during the cooking process. Thoughts of roasting spuds or a glorious pork belly crisping up in bubbling oil all come to mind. It might be a little more simple than this and just the oil used to fry some bacon; whatever the use the physical properties are largely the same. When they are hot, oils and fats are liquid when they are cold…they are most certainly not.
Once FOGs (Fats Oils ad Greases) cool they go solid. It is something most people are aware of if they have ever cleaned a roasting tray after a slap up Sunday dinner. The white “dripping” fat is hard and very tricky to shift. This is exactly what happens when fats go down the sink. They may go down hot but they soon cool and turn into a real problem. In the winter this is even more of an issue because once the FOGs leave the house they will cool rapidly and often in the same place which can lead to a blocked drain.

Commercial Kitchens

As with everything commercial, things are bigger, faster and generally more expensive. The same goes for cooking oils and fats. The volumes are considerably bigger, even in a small kitchen, and the resulting blockages can be huge!

How Should I Dispose of Fats and Oils

There are a number of ways to dispose of FOGs properly. Even in a domestic setting it is worth looking at some options. One simply one is to let all cooking fats cool properly and then simply place them in the bin when they are solid. However, in a commercial environment or when using a deep fat fryer, for example, it is best to store up the old oil and take it to your local recycling centre. Simply check with your local council and see what services there are on offer.

The time and cost involved in unblocking a fat clogged drain s considerable and it is something that is easily avoided through some sensible planning and actions to dispose of FOGs properly. We get called out to a huge number of domestic and commercial fat blocked drains each year and for many customers it is an experience they would prefer to have avoided.
If you have a blocked drain or think you may be seeing a slowing of water movement then get in touch. We can visit you and look into what is causing the problem as well as move any blockages and get your drains working as they should.

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