5 Most Common Reasons Why Your Water Drains Are Blocked

Blocked drains are one of the most common plumbing problems that occur in all households. If you notice a bad smell coming from your drains or notice your sink taking an unusually long time to drain, it could mean that you have a blocked drain. Luckily, most drains can easily be unclogged with items found around the house or in stores.

The most common causes of a water drain blockage include:


Hair falls out all the time, especially when you wash your hair in the shower. According to the American Academy of Dermatologists, the average person loses about 50-100 strands of hair per day. The hair that falls out gets washed down the drain and eventually builds up over time, causing a blockage.

How do you clear a hair blockage?

  • Putting on gloves and pulling out as much hair as you can from the drain.
  • Using a drain cleaner which dissolves the hair.
  • Using snakes and hydro-jets.

Although it’s fairly easy to clear out hair, it can cause more serious plumbing problems if it gets left in the drain for a long period of time. It’s important to clear any loose hair away from the entry of the drain before it can be washed down.

Ways to avoid a blocked drain:

  • Brushing or combing your hair before you wash it, so you can get rid of any loose hair before it gets washed down the drain.
  • Purchase a drain catcher which will catch any hairs or debris before it reaches the drain.

Grease & Fat

Grease and fat are one of the most common causes of drain blockages in kitchen sinks. Many people don’t think twice before tipping grease and fat down the sink. This is a problem as once it cools, it will congeal and harden in the pipes making it difficult for water to get through, causing a build up and eventual drain blockage.

Ways to clear the drain:

  • Homemade drain cleaner (vinegar, baking soda and water).
  • Store bought drain cleaner.
  • Water jet or snake

Ways to avoid a blocked drain:

  • Discard grease and fat in empty glass jars instead of pouring it down the sink.
  • Use leftover grease and fat for cooking.



Toiletries & Other Foreign Objects

Despite the warnings on the packages of nappies and wipes, people still dispose of them and sanitary products by flushing them down the toilet. This is abig no-no as these objects don’t dissolve properly but rather get immersed with water and enlarge which can cause a blockage.

Toys and other foreign objects might also find themselves being flushed down the toilet by adventurous children.

Ways to clear the drain:

  • A toilet plunger.
  • A bent wire clothes hanger.
  • Flush the drain with hot water and dishwashing detergent.

Ways to avoid a blocked drain:

  • Keep a bin in the bathroom and dispose of toiletries and sanitary products correctly.
  • Keep a close eye on children so they’re not flushing anything down the toilet that shouldn’t be flushed.
  • Teach children that they should only flush toilet paper down the toilet.


Soap used in the laundry and bathrooms can get backed up in the drain (known as soap scum/residue), and can get mixed with hair and dirt causing a large clog which blocks the drain. Bar soaps in particular are the cause of drain blockages, as they contain grease and fat and won’t dissolve as easily as a liquid soap might.

Ways to clear the drain:

  • Hydro-jet or high pressure water.
  • Pouring hot water down the drain.
  • Homemade or store bought drain cleaner.

Ways to avoid a blocked drain:

  • Alternate the use of bar soap and liquid soap.
  • Regularly flush your drains with hot water.

Tree Roots, Leaves & Outdoor Debris

The Autumn and Spring months bring falling leaves and more debris to the backyard with most of it flowing into outdoor drains when it rains. During the wet season, there will be a build up of debris in your outdoor drains which can cause your outdoor drains to clog up.

Tree roots are always seeking water and will gravitate towards drains where they continue to grow, causing blockages and pipes to burst. It’s not only a nuisance but can cause some serious damage to your outdoor pipes and end up being a pricey problem to fix.


Ways to clear the drain:

  • High pressure hose.
  • Hydro-jet.
  • Pulling out as much as the debris as possible with gloved hands or a shovel)

Ways to avoid a blocked drain:

  • Carry out regular maintenance in your yard; sweeping up leaves and picking up sticks. This should be done year round.
  • Clean your gutters.
  • Keep an eye on the trees in your yard and make sure that tree roots aren’t getting too close to your outdoor drains.

If you continue to have blocked drains, it’s best to call a professional plumber to assess what the problem might be. Call Sydney Emergency Plumbing today on 1300 115 429. With 24/7 service, you can always count on us!