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Top 8 Causes of Blocked Drains & Its Prevention

Every homeowner understands the importance of having drains. Not only do drains remove wastewater, but they also eliminate the possibility of bacteria buildup, foul smell and airborne pollutants. So, when a drain is partially or completely blocked, it can cause issues like flooding, slow drainage, reduced water pressure, and even make you very uncomfortable.

A blocked drain can be a minor or major issue depending on the severity and impact, but you don't always have to wait for it. This is why having knowledge about blocked drains can bring a solution or serve as a preventative measure. Do you know that some blockage can be very harmful? It can even lead to a very costly repair!

The key to understanding blocked drainage is to firstly, comprehend the dynamics and structure of drainage fully. The reason is that a blocked downpipe depending on the location of the blockage, type of blockage, and method of removal or cleaning can go from easy to complex. Thus you need to know the parts of your drainage and how they work. We at the Emergency Plumber London will show you in a bit.


Good plumbing is one that is installed in such a way that it provides convenience, works effectively, guarantees the safety and of course, cleanliness. But many parts are fused to bring about this comfort. They include main components installed in the bathroom, kitchen and surrounding; components like:

  • Dishwasher
  • Garbage disposal
  • Sink
  • Toilet
  • Septic tank
  • Water supply
  • Water filtration
  • Sprinkler system
  • Well, sump and other pumps
  • Water heater
  • Washing machines
  • Heating and cooling system
  • Insulation
  • Pipes, levers, seals and couplings

If you notice a malfunction in any of these parts, it causes discomfort and sometimes expensive repair.

A keen watch over these systems and taking immediate action in the event of a sudden breakdown is a good preventative measure. The benefit of this is to stop minor issues from escalating into major problems. Don't ignore signs of drainage failure!

Most importantly, routine inspection and maintenance of the plumbing system by a good plumbing company in London can come in handy to forestall plumbing issues. Emergency Plumber London is one of the best plumbing service provider. We can give very good repairs, inspection and maintenance to all your plumbing.


In buildings, there are 2 main types of drainage system:

  • Drains for domestic water used within the house
  • Drains for rainwater


Just like a blocked drain causes discomfort, severe damage (if neglected), and other drawbacks, a clear drain does the exact opposite.

With a clear drain, you can be sure of an even better atmosphere devoid of air pollutants. Good drainage will enhance the functionality of your home. It makes working around your house easier, faster, hassle-free and enjoyable; you don't have to deal with all that unpleasant smell and disgusting sight. You are comfortable, happy, and healthy when your drains are not blocked.


Wastewater from every part of the house including toilet, sink, shower, washing machine and other water-based system are collected into the main drain, which then takes it to either a private septic system or a public wastewater treatment facility.

Rainwater collected in cities run into a storm sewer system, which then routes it to a river, lake, or any water body, or sometimes a retention pond installed to collect and filter water. Be it a home or a commercial outlet; there can be private utilities for outdoor drainage to collect and filter stormwater.

Though these water are produced under different circumstances, there are times where stormwater can be channelled to a septic tank or wastewater treatment plant.

Drainage pipe for wastewater usually have clean out points every 50 feet because they are buried under the frost line of an area. These clean out points are identified by a capped piece of white pipe that is visible above the ground.

Granted, a sewage backup is a more serious drainage problem, but wastewater and stormwater drainage can be blocked.


Itis important to note that drainage can be blocked from anywhere; be it inside or outside. This makes identifying blocked drains hard because pipes run underground and through walls. Take for instance, water standing in the kitchen sink. It would be very easy to see this, but it's not easy to know what may have caused a slow drain or to see a leaking pipe underground.

From toilet to sink and waste disposal, signs of a blocked drain can be easier to spot or take longer to identify. One of the worst problems is when water backs up and overflow from the septic or sewer system. It could affect the sewer line, septic system or other parts.

In getting to know the problem, you would get to know the cause.

Various signs may indicate an imminent or already existing blockage. These are:

  • A slow draining sink, tub, or shower
  • Low water pressure in parts or all the system especially sink or shower
  • A sewage backup into a sink, toilet, or bathtub
  • Gurgling noise from the drain as a result of water hitting a blockage and causing bubbles
  • When water-using facilities react to each other, like the toilet making noise at the stop or start of the washer
  • When the system permits only one facility at a time to drain properly
  • Unpleasant or foul odour from the drain
  • A bubbling in the toilet when a sink closest to it is turned on
  • Saturated soil or pool of water in the surrounding


Your sewer and water drainage systems are likened to a tree and its branches. A build-up in the toilet can cause a problem in any part of the system. When some part of the water or sewer main is blocked, the entire building is affected. But if one of the sublines is blocked, it is only the area connected with the line that will be affected. Some frequent causes of blocked drains include:

  • Tree Roots

blocked drains by tree root

This is the usual suspect in blocked water and sewer mains. It is common to find tree roots in pipes of older homes; however, the roots can invade pipe system of any age. A gurgling noise, according to some experts, is the first sign of a tree root invasion into the sewer. Tree roots are naturally drawn to seeking water wherever it may be found. So, the water in sewer pipes may be an attraction for tree roots, especially if you live in the woods. If many trees are surrounding your home, it is crucial that you look out for tree root invasion.

A video inspection can help check out if your drainage is prone to tree root attack. This can be done every few years. The cost of having this inspection is lower when compared with fixing a tree root-initiated plumbing issue.

  • Paper Products

Be it toilet paper, light cardboard, paper, towel, facial tissue, baby diapers, feminine hygiene products or even 'flushable wipes', these products can be detrimental to the drainage system. They do not disintegrate when flushed but can only fit into the pipe because they are non-biodegradable. These materials pose a threat to home and commercial systems. Feminine hygiene products and baby diapers are made with cotton and other fibres that have a high tendency to attract other potential blocking agents and block the drains.

With the way sewer treatment is designed, it contains microorganisms that disintegrate human waste and nothing else. Avoid putting non-biodegradable materials into the toilet.

  • Kitchen Waste

Waste from the kitchen, including food particles, fat, oil, and grease, are not friends with the plumbing system. There's a lot of publicity going on to discourage people from flushing oily substances down the drain. This includes everything from meat, vegetable oil, cream, chocolate and others that contain fat, oil, or grease.

The truth is that though water flushes fats, fats are sticky and will eventually bind to the pipe and build up a blockage. It is recommended that you trash grease and other fats and oil by putting them in small disposable bottles and away in the trash bin. Bits and chunks of food should be disposed of in the garbage; not in the sink. You need to understand that not all the foods are compatible with garbage disposal systems, no matter how powerful they may be. The function of the garbage disposal system is to cut up food waste into bits that will move through the drain pipe without any accumulation, but many of our foods are not easy to shred.

Avoid flushing food particles or waste down the bathtub, laundry drains or the toilet! This is because some of these edibles could be hard, sticky, or stringy and not good in a water pipe.

This is very important, especially to restaurant owners. You wouldn't like food preparation to be delayed or hindered because of a blocked drain. Take care to teach your employees what does and does not belong in the drain. Another way of disposing at is to allow it to cool and solidify; it is easier to clean it up in this state.

  • Hair

blocked drains by hair The hair that falls off your body as you bathe or shave can accumulate and cause slow flow or complete blockage. Protect your drains with small screens and sweep hair out of sinks. Cleaning your hairbrush over the trash-can will be of great help.

Most of the time, you can try using needle-nose pliers or long tweezers to pull out accumulated hair on the drain carefully. Allowing it to remain there will bring about a wash down. Protect your drain.

  • Scales from Pipe

Mineral deposits from dissolved calcium and magnesium and other metallic compounds left behind as water flows can build up to block your drains. Scales are naturally occurring products that react to temperature and wet/dry condition in the pipes. It begins by gathering in one spot until it grows into a large size causing a blockage.

Scales can also affect water-using home appliances like dishwasher and washing machine.

  • Ageing of Pipe

Pipes overtime can disintegrate and drop, and the soil under them can erode, allowing the pipe to sag. Seasonal changes, especially winter, can cause pipes to shift under pressure of the freeze-thaw process. Modern-day pipes can also be affected by this.

Naturally occurring leaves, dirt, sticks, and others can be blown by the wind or moved by water into broken water pipes. These materials thrive in any breach in plumbing work, which is why it is always advised that you clear your surrounding of all debris, especially during the rains. Leaves are excellent drain-blocking agents so, it is advised that you clear your yard of them and avoid washing them down the storm sewer drain.

Even the tiniest of weed can sneak through a very small crack in a pipe, paving the way for roots, plants and soil to come in and block the drain.

Other objects like chunks of bar soap, children's toys, condoms, dental floss, jewellery, amongst others, should not be deposited in the drain because they are non-biodegradable. Keep an eye on younger children to ensure they don't throw in any hard object into the toilet or drain.

Remember, only water, human waste and bio-degradable toilet paper should be flushed down the toilet. All other waste should be disposed of properly. You are encouraged to teach your kids about the importance of disposing in the right way.

A combination of materials like soap and detergents, plus other materials can form a big obstacle and block the drains. Laundry experts recommend the use of soaps not containing phosphate. Rather, use instead soaps that have natural or no surfactants. It is also advised that you wash your clothes in intervals so that you don't overwork the machine.

Leaks from pipes - This steady loss of water from a pipe can cause erosion of the soil around, and the pipe may drop, sag or change its original position. Leaking water also changes the soil's chemical properties, and the pipe might break because of this.

Poor Plumbing - An incorrect sewer slope, undersized sewer pipes and poor load design can affect the drain adversely. This thing should be professionally done to ensure effective waste disposal and minimal drain damage.

We at the Emergency Plumber London, understand that water system is driven by gravity, thus every pipe should have the correct slope to maintain proper flow. The household needs should be considered before sloping drain pipes so that waste and water can be properly processed.

It is also not good to add unto a home without balancing the plumbing load. Avoid using poorly trained technicians to do your plumbing because sometimes the plumbing load is miscalculated. The number of water-using utilities like sinks, bathtubs and toilets determines the size of sewer drain pipes. The popularly accepted standard for the main drain of a house is 4 inches in diameter. Unfortunately, many plumbers and homeowners will prefer pipes bigger than this size for household use.

Having an overload is possible even if the sewer main has the correct size. This happens when for instance, a home is using a septic system, and its waste capacity has increased. The functions of the septic system and drain field may become overstretched and drain failure sets in. Consequences of this failure are foul smells and backups.

Animal Wastes like cat litter and dog waste should not go into the drain or toilet! They do not belong there! A cat litter is composed of clay-like material that can harden like concrete over time. The litter pieces are also sharp and can attract other things to block the drain. So, if you own pets like dogs and cats, collect their waste into plastic bags and dispose separately from bio-degradable waste.


With our experience, we have put together some preventative measures that could help you in avoiding blockage of drains.

They are as follows:

  • Use of Toilet Lid Locks - We cannot overemphasise on the use of toilets for only human waste, water, and bio-degradable toilet paper. But as a precautionary measure, you could employ toilet lids to help to get started. This will help prevent kids from throwing in toys and other hard objects into the toilet. Using a lined trash bin in a toilet can stop people from flushing a feminine hygiene product or baby diaper. Placing a plunger in every toilet such that it is close by is also good. With all these in place, you can manage blocked drain situations but in the event of a toilet overflow, do ensure you call a plumber immediately. Emergency Plumber London is readily available for call outs. A measure like using a toilet lid will reduce the potential damage that may be expensive.
  • Identifying the Water Main - In the event of a burst pipe repair or water backup, shutting off the water from the mains can be a very good way to avoid further damage. But you need to know where it is located. Depending on how the house is designed, the water main may be a lever or wheel-type handle attached to the main water line. It could be located in the garage, utility closet, or basement. The water-using utilities in the home also have an individual cutoff valve that shuts off each of them. Incase you don't know where the water main is, ask your plumber to show you and tell you how it works. Other times, you can also consider a trial and error practice by turning on and off the lever handle, sometimes it is marked 'main', so you know.
  • Pressurise the Sink - As part of good plumbing, experts recommend filling each sink with water once or two times a month, and allow it drain to create pressure that will flush out the pipe and take out debris. Pouring a pan of boiling water down the kitchen sink will also remove oil, fat, and grease. Provide pressure also in the bathtub; this will take out grease, oil, and fat from the sides of the pipe.
  • Know What to Dispose of- Having a garbage disposal is good, but not just anything should be trashed in it. Don't put tough and fibrous food items like potato peels, egg shells, celery, meat, skin, bones, watermelon, etc into the garbage disposal. This is because the blades may not chop them well. Blockage can also be caused when too many materials are fed into the disposal simultaneously. Have a sense of disposal defence by feeding in the garbage into your disposal gradually with water running before, during and after the whole process. It also keeps your disposal in good working condition.
  • Compare Water-using Appliances - You can determine the way your water drainage works by comparing how your sink drains when toilets flush and when other appliances are in use. If there is water back up anywhere in the course of running a major appliance, this could be a tell-tale sign of a blocked drain.
  • WaterUsage and Quality Analysis - You can test to know how your plumbing system works. First, watch your water bill for any increase that doesn't tie in with usage. This is true because an unusual hike can be a sign of an underground leak. Often, the fault is on sprinkler lines. Testing your water quality can also tell you what your water contains and if it has changed.
  • Pressure-control the Main Line - Sometimes a blocked drain can cause the main line to backup. When this happens, it is easy to reduce some of the pressure on the system by taking off the cap on the sewer cleanout pipe (if you have one). If water flows out upon the removal of the cap, it is a sign that the drain is blocked. Remember, the cleanout pipe is usually a white pipe visibly above the ground.
  • Clean your Drain Pipes -

    Blocked-drains-cleaningA regular or routine cleaning of your sewer pipe can help maintain functionality. One may begin to imagine the possibility of cleaning drain pipes that carry waste always. It is possible. Pipe cleaning can be done using hydrojetting, augers, and winding snakes. There are also home remedies; actions you can take yourself to clear the blockage and maintain your pipes. A good combination of lemon juice, soda, and vinegar can come in handy in taking out some drain blocks. Bear in mind that multiple use of chemical drain cleaners should be avoided; they are harsh and most often will degrade the insides of the pipes and drains. You will find these later at the end of this article.

In using a snake or auger, you can clear and loosen blockages. This tool is made of steel and has a tip that can grab blockages. It can be electrically, hydraulically, or manually powered. You can use other similar tools like a kinetic water ram for clearing out blocked drains.

  • Video Inspection - With the use of special cameras, the exact location, type of blockage and composition can be easily checked out. Having plumbing components out of sight and buried in the ground can be tough for some home owners. But with a camera inspection, these days we can now see what we couldn't see before. Again, camera inspection provides a clear picture of cracks (if any exists) in the pipes. Other benefits of this method include:
  1. It helps to retrieve lost items
  2. Camera inspection shows plumbing history
  3. It solves the difficulty in diagnosing problems
  4. Easy elimination of guess work and costly repairs
  5. It shows the condition of the environment surrounding the pipes

Video inspection can also be used as part of routine maintenance. This is to periodically check pipes for leaks, cracks, tree root invasion and other possibilities that could cause a blocked drain.


Apart from knowing how your plumbing system works, here are some things you can give a try when your drain is blocked. They include the following:

  • Look out for hair, scale, or foreign objects on the visible part of the drain
  • Pour a good quantity of water down a toilet that isn't flushing
  • Always use the recommended quantity of drain cleaner; multiple usages isn't good at all
  • Practise pouring a panful of boiling water down sinks to increase pressure
  • Use the right plunger for the right utility
  • You can do periodic pipe cleaning at home using hot water, baking soda, and vinegar
  • Try opening the p-trap (the u-shaped piece of pipe under most sinks) by shutting off the sink water and placing a bucket under the pipe if you think it is blocked.

A good preventative measure is always by good maintenance practice. Try what you can to keep your pipes free from dirt and other blocking agents.


There is no better time to initiate that check than right now!Now is the ideal timefor checking out your plumbing if you are beginning to notice any of the signs we have listed or something unusual about your drains. Ignoring minor plumbing issues will ultimately cause bigger issues to develop. You may have to spend more money in doing so. When it comes to plumbing, it is better to pay for pipe cleaning if you are noticing slow drainage, low pressure, gurgling noise, standing water, and other signs than to wait for severe issues like a toilet overflow or total breakdown of sewer main.

Be on the lookout always for imminent signs of failure. Start now. Sooner is better!


Having a plumber that is readily available during an emergency is highly important. You should have their number so you can call them when the need arises. The Emergency Plumber London is here to take care of all your plumbing needs, especially blocked drains.


Every plumbing jo, especially clearing blocked drains needs a thorough understanding, planning, investigation, and procedure. Without these, you might not be able to achieve the goals of plumbing. A good plumber will:

  • Have the required expertise
  • Possess the experience
  • Be able to know what the problem is and fix it
  • Not delay in responding to your emergency
  • Be thorough on the job
  • Save you time and money
  • Be ready and available
  • Always be updated on the latest plumbing tools, technology and methods
  • Not compromise quality and standard
  • Watch out for your health and safety
  • Have the correct certifications and license for the job

All of the above and more put together is what defines us at Emergency Plumber London. We handle blocked drains very well.


We are your run-to company for emergency and general plumbing in the UK. We're experienced, certified, knowledgeable, and have the right tools to get that blocked drain cleared.


We are good at what we do

Our team of engineers and technicians have up-to-date knowledge of modern plumbing and drainage cleaning.

We will do a complete assessment of the job before taking any action because once we get started, the problem gets to leave.

We maintain standard

We do not compromise our standard of service. For all we know, quality and assurance have guided us throughout the years of doing this job.

When it comes to safety, we do just that! Our operations are environmentally friendly and devoid of any harm to you or your family. Before commencing any cleaning, we will put you through on the job procedure and outcome because we believe in satisfying your plumbing needs.

Maintaining health standards is one key area of our service. We know that we are dealing with water, waste and pollution, so, we ensure that all our practices are healthy.

We are personable

We manage a team of friendly engineers and technicians that are smart and courteous. Our customer service is maintained through this. Every customer is treated right. Even when we come to fix your drains, we don't mess up your house (if the problem is within your home) and we clean up your workspace once we are done.

We have the experience

The latest tools and technology is what we use in clearing blocked drains. Our vans are stuffed with repair parts and standard cleaning equipment that will leave your drain spotlessly clean and free.

You can afford it

Our drain cleaning services are also offered at a competitive price. You don't need to break a bank to get your drain fixed.

We are always available

You can reach us at all time. Our phone lines are open and available and our vans are on standby to get us to you as quickly as possible. Callouts are 24/7. Call us, and we will be there.

Do you need a certified plumber? We are certified and licensed to carry out drain cleaning throughout London.


Blocked drains are problematic. A drain is supposed to take out wastewater and other waste away from the house. When this function is lost, a drain loses its potential!

Not only you will be affected. Your family members and of course your daily life will receive the impact of a blocked drain. Do yourself the service of safeguarding your health and preventing any discontinuity in your daily activities by reporting all the issues of blocked drains to the Emergency Plumber London. Just like our name suggests, we respond promptly to all emergencies connected to blocked drains anywhere in London. At any time of the day your drain fails, give us a call, and we will be there to take care of it.


As one of the best drain cleaning company in London, we do not only specialise in clearing blocked home drains, we also take care of commercial outlets. So whether it is a business or a private setting, we are on ground to facilitate that cleaning you need.

When you make us your routine drain cleaning company, we ensure that you get the best value for your money by taking professional care of your drain.


Emergency Plumber London will first carry out a full inspection of the affected area to know the cause of the blockage. Depending on the location of the blockage, we can either do a manual inspection or video camera inspection.

We have miniature cameras and LED lights that can picture the most obscure of places.

From there, we can now plan how to go about the cleaning, including the method we will employ to take out the blockage. You get to know everything we intend to do as we'll fully discuss the details with you.

In the event of any failure after repair (which rarely occurs), we do come around to see and fix the damage. We don't leave our customers uncertain about us.


Unlike other plumbing companies out there, the Emergency Plumber London is one company that is passionate about we do. A desire to give people the right services at the right time and at the right price is our driving force.

You also get the following when we work for you:

  • A fully functional plumbing company at your beck and call
  • Very good drain cleaning services
  • Intelligent and smart engineers and technicians that know their job
  • Great customer service and care
  • Prompt emergency response all round the clock
  • A unique routine drain maintenance, repair and installation (if needed)
  • A plumbing company you can rely on
  • Competitive price for all our services
  • A plumbing company that serves you better

Now that you've been put through all these, the time to act like we said before is now. Who knows how much you might save from an early detection of a drainage failure? Even if you lead a busy life and may not have the time to check out these things, we can be your eyes and ears for everything drainage. It wouldn't cost much to keep an eye on your home aesthetics.

A thorough and good investigate research is what we do constantly at the Emergency Plumber London. This is to ensure that we are kept informed on the constantly changing trends in plumbing. It may interest you to know that our engineers and technicians are regularly updated and trained on the most relevant plumbing technology.

We leave no stones unturned in our quest for better plumbing for our customers, including you. Yes, you.

Take advantage of this unique service we bring to you by contacting us today. It is always good to have the phone number of your plumber handy in case of an emergency. But it is better to have a plumber that responds when called.

We don't want you to go through the stress a blocked drain can bring, which is why we have come to serve. We can determine the cause of a blocked drain and even repair any damage of an already blocked drain. What are you still waiting for? Remember we clean both domestic and commercial drains throughout London so, we can get to you anywhere you might be in London.


We are the Emergency Plumber London.We aim to remove every trouble of blocked drains away from your home or businesses. We do it with passion, and we do it well. Our services are inexpensive, timely and reliable.

Our modern cleaning tools, repair parts, experienced and highly trained engineers and technicians are our back up. We don't hesitate to respond to call outs.

Don't allow a blocked drain deprive you of the comfort and health you deserve, especially when you have a company like our that can take it out.

Remember, you don't neglect a blocked drain, it can be disastrous.

Whenever you need that drain cleaned and good, do give us a call soon. We are here for blocked drains London.

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