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How do you know a drain is blocked?

How do you know a drain is blocked?

Frequently a blocked sewer drain comes as a surprise. A common question asked of our plumbers is how do you know a drain is blocked?

To begin with, if your toilet is backing up and not draining, or your overflow relief gully is spewing out sewerage outside then, you need a blocked drains Gold Coast specialist plumber now. I guarantee DIY remedies such as baking soda and vinegar will not clear your blocked drain.

Unfortunately, not all blockages are immediately apparent. Let me assure you it is not normal to be experiencing gurgling in your drains or slow to drain toilets.

The reality is few blockages are a sudden occurrence. Usually, a blocked drain happens gradually so below we will list out common reasons to the question how do you know a drain is blocked.

How do you know a drain is blocked early warning signs

Early warning signs of an impending blocked drain are easily overlooked but below are the most common to look out for:

  • foul odours in your bathroom or toilet that never go away
  • gurgling noises from your toilet or floor wastes when no-one is using them
  • the toilet when flushed filling up the bowl then slowly draining away
  • the overflow relief gully (ORG) intermittently overflowing then slowly draining away
  • the water seal in your toilet completely being sucked away

What are the causes of a blocked drain?

The most common causes that we have seen recently why a drain becomes blocked is tree roots or buildups of flushable wipes. These, in turn, are commonly caused by:

  • broken sewer house drains that allow roots to infiltrate
  • poorly installed drains that have an incorrect fall that will enable buildups in the drain as they cannot flow away
  • low water flows in flat drains that allow accumulations of solids flushed into the sewer
  • objects flushed down the toilet such as flushable wipes, sanitary products or toys that do not break up in the water

Clearing your blocked drain

If you are experiencing any of the symptoms described above the answer to how do you know a drain is blocked is simple you need to call us on (07) 5580 4311 before you have no functional sewer house drain.

Baking Soda and Vinegar Will Not Clear Your Blocked Drain

Baking Soda and Vinegar Will Not Clear Your Blocked Drain

Sorry to disappoint you but I guarantee that mixing baking soda and vinegar will not clear your blocked drain. What I can guarantee is that you will create a lovely fizzy, bubbling concoction that will fascinate your kids and nothing else.

When you mix vinegar into baking soda, you create a bubbling chemical reaction that produces:

  • a small amount of sodium acetate which is a salt and also known as hot ice
  • ordinary H2O or water

What is not created is a magical chemical that will clear any form of blockage in your drains. I realise this is contrary to the popular urban myths spun by well-intentioned DIY gurus.

Baking Soda & Vinegar Will Not Break Down Buildups of Grease, Fats Oils & Hair

Baking soda and vinegar will not clear your blocked drain because it will not break down the buildups of grease, fats, oils or hair. To break them down so that they run away in water, you require a combination of heat and a surfactant.

In reality, if you have a slow draining shower, basin or sink drain, then don’t waste money on chemical solutions, use salt and hot water. All you need to do is pour half a cup of salt into the drain followed up by slowly pouring a couple of litres of water heated to just before boiling.

You may need to repeat this a few times, but it works by melting some of the grease and fat buildups. This is aided by the natural abrasiveness of the salt which acts as a scouring agent to force more of the grease and fat to flow with the water.

We use an enzyme product when we are clearing trade waste drains and grease traps. We can provide you with it also to ensure your internal waste pipes on the shower, basin or sink don’t clog up with grease, fats, soap or hair. Enzyme solutions need to be used regularly generally overnight, but they do work to keep your drains free from organic buildups. Best of all, by breaking down organic matter, they eliminate odour issues.

Simply baking soda and vinegar will not clear your blocked drain no matter how much you pour it down the drain. You will waste money on buying the baking soda and vinegar to create a lovely effervescence with lots of bubbles and fizzing.

You will waste money on buying the baking soda and vinegar to create a lovely effervescence with lots of bubbles and fizzing.

It is my experience that no chemical drain cleaner really clears drains in the long term. You may fluke a short term solution, but the only way to clear a drain properly is by mechanical means. I realise this means calling us on (07) 5580 4311 and spending money, but it works. The reality is we provide a permanent long term solution using our high-pressure jet rodding equipment that blasts away built-up grease, oil and fats.

Using DIY solutions only delays the inevitable, so why waste money on them and risk damaging your drains or having sewage overflow into your home.

How Does a Toilet Block?

How Does a Toilet Block?

Toilet blockages are more than an inconvenience!

How does a toilet block is a frequently asked question of our plumbers? Your toilet is after the kitchen sink the most commonly used plumbing fixture in your home. It goes without saying a blocked toilet is more than an inconvenience. For most people, a blocked toilet is an unpleasant experience that they don’t have the stomach to deal with and calling a plumber is their preferred option. So how does a toilet block seemingly without reason and ruin your day?

How does a toilet block with foreign objects?

Adhering to the three P’s rule of pee, poo and paper for your toilet ensure never having to ask how does a toilet block from foreign objects. blocked toilets plumber gold coast

Foreign objects are anything that is not toilet paper, urine or faeces. Toilet pans are not waste disposal units and are designed with one function, and that is to dispose of your bodily waste hygienically.

Toilet paper, despite some popular urban myths, does not block a toilet. Toilet paper is manufactured to dissolve in water and rapidly breaks down when you flush the toilet cistern.

In our experience, the biggest culprit and an absolute foreign object in a toilet pan are flushable wipes. Flushable wipes are anything but flushable and cause toilets and sewers to block up and create horrendous plumbing repair bills.

Other foreign objects we frequently see in a blocked toilet are paper towels, facial tissues, cotton tips, Q-tips, cotton buds, ear cleaners, hair removal wax strips, cotton balls, pantie liners, sanitary napkins and our old favourite of children’s toys.

Tampons are frequently blamed for blocking a toilet or drain and yes they are a foreign object. The reality is that a tampon is too small and flexible to cause a toilet to block. We frequently see real estate leasing managers trying to blame a blocked toilet on tampons, but they are a visible symptom of the blockage, not a cause.

The best method of eliminating your toilet from becoming a rubbish bin is to keep a bathroom waste bin in the toilet or bathroom. It is also a good idea to train your children from an early age on what is safe to flush down a toilet bowl.

How does a toilet block in a toilet pan trap?

The reason there is water in your toilet is that the curved bottom part of the toilet is a trap.
The toilet bowl trap is literally what it says a trap.

The trap retains water in it every time you flush the toilet. The purpose of the trap is to prevent foul sewer odours escaping from the drains and entering your home.

Foreign objects are the primary cause of a blockage in the trap, especially if they are rigid and lodge in the trap outlet. In many circumstances, they can be dislodged and the blockage cleared by using a plunger. If you are attempting to clear it yourself with a plunger, let the water drain down before trying to plunge your toilet into preventing sewage water splashing onto your floor.

Toilet paper is frequently blamed for creating a blockage in the trap. In most circumstances, there is a foreign object lodged in the trap outlet that prevents the toilet paper from flushing away.

If you are experiencing frequent blockages to your toilet, then you have one of the following:

  • a toilet pan that was manufactured in the 1990s that was not compatible with the water flow from the cistern
  • poor quality toilet paper that is not breaking up in the water as required
  • an offset pan collar under the toilet that is restricting flow into the sewer drain

If you are experiencing this scenario, it is a process of elimination. The first thing to do is to try a different brand of toilet paper or even try limiting the amount of toilet paper being used. If that does not solve the blockages, then you need to have your toilet suite and drain connection checked out and possibly have it upgraded.

How does a toilet block from a blocked sewer drain?

Commonly the majority of blocked toilets are a symptom of a blocked main sewer drain.  blocked toilet caused by blocked sewer drain
The toilet becoming completely blocked or slow to drain is because the sewer drains are full and there is nowhere for the water in the toilet to go.

If you have a blocked sewer drain, then all of your plumbing fixtures will cease draining. In this situation, plunging the toilet will achieve absolutely nothing. Worst of all, you will likely end up with sewerage all over your floor.

You were likely receiving warning signals from your sewer drain with gurgling sounds from the toilet, and it was slow to drain when flushed.

Gurgling sounds from any plumbing fixture should never be ignored as they seldom go away and should be investigated immediately if it continues to occur.

If you are experiencing regular blockages in your toilet or hearing gurgling sounds, then you need to call us on (07) 5580 4311 before you experience a complete shut down of your main sewer house drain system.

 

The Desert Eco Adapt Cartridge Is A Non-Conforming Product

Yet again we have come across the installation of the Desert Eco Adapt cartridge illegally installed in ZeroFlush waterless urinals.

Desert eco adapt cartridges installed in ZeroFlush waterless urinals We immediately informed the client that these products known as Desert Eco Adapt cartridges were a non-conforming product in a ZeroFlush waterless urinal. We then informed the client of our responsibilities with respect to reporting non-conforming products to the QBCC. This is due to recent amendments to the Queensland Building and Construction Act 1991, the Plumbing and Drainage Act 2002, and the Building Act 1975 in relation to non-conforming building products. These amendments came into effect on 1 November 2017. These amendments were effected through the passage and proclamation of the Building and Construction legislation (Non-conforming Building Products – Chain of responsibility and Other Matters) Amendment Act 2017.

The client immediately requested that we remove all of the Desert Eco Adapt cartridges and replace them with the compliant ZeroFlush EnviroSeal operating system.

Before removing the Desert Eco Adapt cartridges we undertook a thorough inspection of the ZeroFlush urinals. This confirmed what had been reported Desert Eco Adapt cartridges are non-conforming products in all waterless urinalsthat all were emitting sewer odours as they were a sloppy fit into the ZeroFlush stainless steel rim. The cartridges literally slipped up and out as we removed them as they were not sealing to the stainless steel rim on the housing.

As can be seen in the photo on the left despite being relatively new, there are urine stains on the Desert Eco Adapt cartridge as the rubber seal is not designed to fit ZeroFlush urinals and was not only allowing sewer odours to be emitted but urine was leaking down the side of the cartridge rather than going through the waste outlet drain.

Desert Eco Adapt cartridge creates sewer odours as they are illegalThese issues can be further seen by the stains on stainless steel rim in the photo to the right. These stainless steel rims were all spotlessly clean when the urinals were serviced by us in December.

All of the non-conforming Desert Eco Adapt cartridges were removed, and the EnviroSeal operating systems were reinstalled along with new BioPur Wonder Wizard Tab kits after cleaning and flushing of the drains.

The Desert Eco Adapt Cartridge Is A Non-Conforming Product 3To the left is a photo of the five ZeroFlush ZF201 urinals after scheduled servicing and with the EnviroSeal operating systems reinstalled.

The EnviroSeal operating systems are a WaterMark approved system for ZeroFlush waterless urinals only. They were tested extensively by IAPMO R&T laboratory at 5001 East Philadelphia Street, Ontario, California 91761-2816 USA from 24/03/14 – 04/04/14. The EnviroSeal operating systems was then given WaterMark certification in Australia on 17/06/14, and it was renewed for a further three years on 07/08/15.

We were informed by the client that the Desert EcoAdapt cartridge was installed as a trial as they are significantly cheaper than the genuine ZeroFlush parts.

The Desert Eco Adapt Cartridge Is A Non-Conforming Product 4It was concerning that we were also informed that the Desert cartridges had been installed by a licensed plumber as it is an offence under the Standard Plumbing and Drainage Regulation 2003, Part 4 Product Certification for a licensed plumber to install non-certified and non WaterMarked products as per the clauses on the right.

Despite claims made by the Desert Eco Systems Company at http://www.desert.com.au/products/eco-adapt-advanced/ the facts are that their cartridges have no WaterMark certification for any urinal in Australia other than their own Desert No-Flush Urinal.

All plumbing products installed in buildings in Queensland have been required to have WaterMark certification since 2003 under the Plumbing and Drainage Act 2002 and the Standard Plumbing and Drainage Regulation 2003.

The Watermark Certification scheme is administered at a national level by the Australian Building Codes Board (ABCB). The requirements for WaterMark certification is specified in the Plumbing and Drainage Act 2002.

Under the primary duty of care of the new laws being the Building and Construction legislation (Non-conforming Building Products – Chain of Responsibility and Other Matters) Amendment Act 2017, it is an offence under the Act to supply plumbing products in Queensland that don’t have WaterMark certification as these products do not meet the relevant regulatory provisions.

This change is designed to reduce the likelihood of non-conforming plumbing products being installed in buildings in Queensland.

More information on the Watermark certification system, including a list of certified products and information on the certification process, can be obtained from the ABCB website here: http://abcb.gov.au/ProductCertification/WaterMark-Certification-Scheme

Despite being a non-conforming product and illegal to install it is our opinion that the Desert EcoAdapt system is an inferior product compared to the EnviroSeal system that has been designed, tested and certified only to be used on ZeroFlush waterless urinals.

The Desert cartridge was a sloppy fit into the ZeroFlush stainless steel rim that created sewer odour emissions that could have repercussions with members of the public that have respiratory conditions. This potentially exposes building owners and their employees to legal liabilities for having installed a non-conforming substitute product.

The Desert Eco Systems Company has a long history of substituting products and making claims that their products are a conforming product when they are not and never have been. Product substitution where the product has not been tested, and WaterMark certified for the product it is substituting is an offence under the Building and Construction legislation (Non-conforming Building Products – Chain of Responsibility and Other Matters) Amendment Act 2017.

Everyone in chain of responsibility needs to be aware that they are breaking the law if they authorise, instruct or install Desert Eco Adapt cartridges in any urinal that it has no WaterMark for.  Under Australian consumer laws if you have installed a Desert Eco Adapt cartridge in any waterless urinal other than the Desert No Flush urinal, based on the  dubious claims made to you by representatives of Desert Eco System Company then you are not only entitled to a refund of all your money but also compensation to pay for your waterless urinals being returned to a legally compliant status as per your waterless urinals WaterMark certification.

 

 

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