Blocked Drains

Blocked Drains, Getting To The Root Of The Problem

A blocked drain can be a big drama if left untreated. Throughout the densely populated city of Newcastle, the issue of blocked drains is a common one. As plumbers, we see this household problem on a daily basis, and we’ve come to find some common culprits. So how do we tackle the blockage and what are some ways you can avoid a messy, smelly, clogged drain in the future?

Let’s take a look at how drains get blocked in the first place.

Many things can be the cause of a drain blockage in your home. Some of the most common ones start in the kitchen sink, the toilet, or even the backyard.

The kitchen sink can end up seeing a lot of food scraps and cooking ingredients which can be a recipe for disaster when they get stuck in the plumbing system. Grease and fats can easily build up over time in the walls of the pipes. The more fats and grease in the pipes the harder it will be for water to pass through easily. Food scraps from the dishes can make their way down and cling to the grease, compounding the issue.

The toilet can be a dumping ground for a lot of un-flushable items. Weather on accident or just not knowing what can safely get flushed, plenty of people send ‘no flush’ items down the pipes. These seemingly harmless items, in fact do not biodegrade causing potential clogs and obstructions all the way through the sewage system. It’s important to get clear on what will keep the drains clear.

So what are some common ‘No No’s’ we see flushed down the loo?

The list is actually quite long! Paper towels, tissues, hygiene products, cotton swabs, hair, band aids, medications, hazardous materials, oils, grease, kitty litter all should be disposed in the garbage bin. Essentially anything that is not toilet paper should not be flushed down the toilet. The less we treat the toilet like a garbage bin, the more likely we will avoid any kind of clog in the system.

Sometimes the cause of a blocked drain can happen outside the home. Debris, leaves, tree roots and mud can easily infiltrate your drainage system and cause problematic blockages. Without proper maintenance, stormwater drains and gutters can build up and overflow.

There are a few steps in tackling a blocked drain. CCTV is used to scope out where in the plumbing system the blockage is. The CCTV is handy Leak detection equipment and saves a lot of time. The mini camera on the end of the long coil gets sent through the pipes and delivers footage back to the screen. Once the source of the problem is spotted, your trusty plumber can blast through the pipes with a high-pressure jet blaster and repair any breaks or leaks. The beauty about using CCTV technology is that it is efficient, accurate and low risk in causing any further damage to the pipes and the property.

The important thing to remember when it comes to avoiding blocked drains is to be conscious about what you’re sending down the sink or toilet. If your yard is home to some trees with extensive root systems, they may make their way into cracks in the underground plumbing.

Who is responsible for clearing blocked drains

Clogs can start, grow, and disrupt function in and out of the toilet, but they can also start, grow, and disrupt function anywhere in the system. We know that our drainage systems are connected to the public stormwater and sewage system but where does the property owners responsibility stop and start when it comes to blocked drains?

What are the common causes of blocked drains?

A blockage can build and lodge itself anywhere, but analysis will help narrow down the possibilities. You’ll be able to see what’s happening and what exactly the problem affects. If some component of the water or sewer main is clogged, the issue typically impacts the whole household or structure. If something is stuck in one of the sublines, whatever is happening will more than likely be isolated to one area.

These may be paper towels, tissues, hygiene items, cotton swabs, hair, band aids, pharmaceuticals, hazardous materials, oils, grease, and kitty litter should all be thrown away in the trash. Anything that isn’t toilet paper should never be flushed down the toilet. The less we treat the toilet like a trash can, the more likely we are to avoid any form of clog. Same case also applies to our kitchen and bathroom sink.

Where does the responsibility lie?

Well that comes down to where the legal point of discharge is which is the point at which the property’s drainage system ends and the public drainage system starts. This is a junction in the ground owned and maintained by Hunter Water that redirects the drainage into the stormwater system.

If the junction is broken or has collapsed then Hunter Water will need to be called and we can do this for you if we’re onsite. However, more often than not we find that the blockage is caused somewhere on the private property.

Property owners are responsible for maintaining stormwater pipes, gutters, downpipes, gully pits and any other components of drainage systems in good condition, and in compliance with Council requirements. This includes maintenance of the stormwater system

What should I do if I have a blocked drainage system?

Your first call should be to a qualified, licensed plumber who specialises in blocked drains like Newcastle Plumbing Kings. We have the right tools and equipment to identify where and what is causing your blocked drains. We use CCTV cameras to thoroughly check the cause of the blockage in order to provide the best and right solution. If the blockage is on your property, we can clear the blockage and fix any damage. Avoid DIY-ing situations like this as they are just temporary solutions and could make the situation much worse.

We will firstly try to clear the blockage and then inspect with our CCTV camera to diagnose the cause of the blockage.

Always ask an expert or professional in this field to quickly solve the problem and avoid future problems.

Why hire a professional?

Of course, we all want to get things done quickly in order to save time and money. Hiring a professional, on the other hand, allows you to save even more money in the long run. Professional plumbers anticipate problems before they arise and devise strategies to avert them.

We also offer a free warranty check on blocked drain jobs for up to 365 days after blocked drain complete.

Newcastle Plumbing Kings can handle all of your blocked drain plumbing requirements. We perform a CCTV inspection of your drains to determine the exact location of the blockage and discuss your plumbing choices. Make us your first call next time your drains are blocked.

6 Easy Tips on How to Avoid Blocked Drains

At Newcastle Plumbing Kings, we get numerous callouts a week to unclog household blocked drains. Some people think it’s karma, sometimes life just happens. But there are simple things you can do to avoid blocked drains. Let Newcastle Plumbing Kings show you some handy hints:

1. Use a Drain Strainer

Drain strainers are one of the first and easiest things you can do to avoid blocked drains. The critical places to have strainers in your house are:

  • The kitchen sinks
  • Bathroom sinks
  • Shower drains
  • Dishwashers (located at the bottom of the dishwasher)

A strainer is a stainless-steel or plastic plug that sits on the top of your drain. It has fine holes in it to let water flow through and catch debris. Most new sinks now come with drainers but you can also buy them for a couple dollars in hardware stores. They are excellent at catching common household debris – food, hair, soap, dust – ect. Strainers are truly underrated. They save so much household debris blocking our drains and save home owners hundreds, if not thousands of dollars in drain work. If you don’t have a strainer, get one today.

Important tip: Don’t forget to clean your strainers after each use! 

2. Avoid Disposing Cooking oil and grease in the Kitchen Sink

Some people think it is ok to tip oil down the sink because it is liquid. Whilst, pouring oil down drains does not sound like a big deal, it can lead to problems down the line. At cooking temperate, oil is liquid but when it cools – downs drains – it can turn into solid fat. Cooking grease likes to stick to the inside of pipes and grease attracts more grease. Overtime, pipes can build up with grease and cause a blockage.

Best way to dispose of cooking oil is by placing it in a can, jar or disposing it on a patch of grass outside. Once your container is filled, you can throw it in the rubbish bin.

3. Use Vinegar and baking soda

It may sound like an old wives tale – or a school science project – but good old baking soda and vinegar are cheap, safe yet effective chemicals to avoid blocked drains. Every now and then it is great to pour a ¼ cup of baking soda to 1 cup of vinegar down the drain. The oxidising action breaks down debris and oils and helps clear your pipes.

4. Pour Boiling Water Down the Kitchen Drains

As much as we try to avoid, sometimes you can’t help but get some debris down the sink. Don’t panic. Whilst tiny debris particles alone won’t clog a drain, they can build up.

An easy fix? One a regular basis like, once a week, boil the kettle and pour boiling water down the drain. The intense heat will help break down small particles and flush them down your drain.

Important tip: Be careful when pouring hot water to avoid getting any burns.

5. Never Flush Non-Toilet Paper Products

We’ll say it once and we’ll say it again. Only toilet paper should be flushed down the toilet. Don’t be deceived by those ‘flushable’ wipes. Toilet paper is designed to break down when travelling down the drain. At Newcastle Plumbing Kings, we have seen all kinds of things clogging drains. The main offenders are sanitary products; pads, tampons and nappies, ‘pseudo’ toilet paper like tissues and paper towel. These products made of cotton and plastic are not designed to break down.

Along with the occasional phone, you may be surprised to learn those plastic toilet deodorisers are also responsible for blocking drains. Built from cheap plastic, they can snap and be flushed down drains causing problems further down the line.

In our experience, these products can cause permanent damage on your whole sewer system. It can be a costly and complicated process and result in replacing all your drains.

We may sound silly telling people not to flush nappies and tissues down the drain but it does happen. What you can and cannot flushed should not be treated as ‘common sense’, it is taught. That’s why you need to teach kids – soon as they are old enough to understand – to only flush toilet paper.

6. Have Regular Pipe Inspections

The best way to prevent a blocked drain is by calling professionals to check the status of your drainage. If you live on the NSW central coast, your local experts are Newcastle Plumbing Kings. Drains are dark and narrow nooks making it impossible to see some blockages with the human eye. Luckily, the team at Newcastle Plumbing Kings have the correct knowledge and tools to spot a blockage.

It may not feel necessary to call the pros but our long-term customers agree that they have saved money in the long term with check ups every 1-2 years instead of managing the costs of blocked drains and pipes. A prevention is always better than a cure.

We hope this blog will help you not have to call us about blocked drains but if you live on the NSW Central Coast, just know you can always call Newcastle Plumbing Kings.

We are licensed in both plumbing and drain issues, guaranteeing you efficient and quality service. Call us today on 1800 313 222. We serve areas across the central coast including Newcastle, Hunter Valley, Central Coast and Lake Macquarie.

Our licensed plumbers are also drain experts and can help you with checking and clearing any of your drains. We also give upfront pricing so you will not have to worry about any hidden charges.

What are the Common Types of Blocked Drains?

At Newcastle Plumbing Kings, we have seen plenty of blocked drains over the years but throughout our experience, we have found some common plumbing themes. Find out the 3 most common blocked drains and what to do when blockages occur.

Drainage systems are crucial to running a happy, healthy home or business. Good drains will quickly remove all – potentially contaminated – wastewater. Leaving your home or business safe and dry.

There are different types of drains installed around your property, all designed with a different purpose and place to divert wastewater. Having a little knowledge on the area can make it easier for both you and your plumber to identify problems.

As listed in one of our previous blogs (link to blog 4/ How to spot a blocked drain). Some of the key things to identify blocked drains are:

  • Foul smell
  • Increased water level and slow drainage
  • Gurgling from drains.

There are 4 different types of blocked drains:

  • Blocked Sewers
  • Blocked storm water
  • Blocked soils drain
  • Blocked pipes

Blocked sewer

Sewers are designed to remove all waste coming from your home. Functioning sewer systems will divert your wastewater to the correct authorities to be safely processed. Due to their job to divert waste, it is important sewers flow properly. A blocked sewer drain can be a smelly, disgusting, and hazardous mess for both you and your neighbours if not dealt with correctly.

If you have blocked sewers, call a plumber or drain expert straight away. If you live in the NSW central coast, you can call Newcastle Plumbing Kings and we can come out to solve your sewer problems.

Blocked stormwater drain

It’s not everyday we think about storm water drains. An efficient storm water system will make you forget it’s there. Storm water systems are designed to drain rainwater from rooftops and keep your home dry.

Depending on your location, gutters and downpipes on rooftops can be prone to blockages by leaves, debris, dirt and even animal litter. When it rains, the debris caught in your gutters can be washed into your stormwater drain and cause a blockage.

Blocked stormwater pipes and gutters can be responsible for causing leaking roofs and expensive water damage to homes. Blocked stormwater drains can cause flood damage to homes even during light rains so it’s important to get them looked at.

The best way to prevent stormwater blockages is to invest in good quality gutter guard and perform seasonal check-up and cleans of your roof gutters and drains. If you do end up with a blockage, you can always call a plumber or a drain expert who is equipped to fix the problem.

Subsoil Drains Block

Subsoil drains are perforated pipes laid underground to remove excess water from homes and gardens. Due to their porous membrane, they do risk being blocked by a build up dirt and blocked subsoil drains can affect the flow of water from this pipe.

Because subsoil drains are underground, confirmed blockages can require excavating. If you suspect you have one of these drain blockages, best to call in a drain expert.

Blocked pipes

The most common call we get at Newcastle plumbing Kings is blocked pipes. This includes indoor pipes and household drains as well as outdoor pipes. Depending on their strength, age and location, pipes can crack inviting a host of problems including blockages and leaks.

What causes blockages?

  • Tree roots are attracted to the water inside pipes can creep through cracks and joints. Tree roots in pipes are the most common problem we see at Newcastle Plumbing Kings.
  • Broken or misaligned pipes, when there is earth movement, underground pipes (including sewer) can crack and drop from intense soil pressure. It this area where a lip may be formed that will catch solids and paper, causing a blockage.
  • Foreign objects, Only human waste and toilet paper should ever be put down your drains.

At Newcastle plumbing Kings we have unclogged blockages due to sanitary items, baby wipes, tissues, paper towel, food and the occasional phone. Try your best to educate your family on the importance of only flushing toilet paper.

When investigating broken pipes, Newcastle Plumbing uses high tech tools like CCTV footage to investigate blocked pipes. Depending on the scenario, the CCTV can save us from expensive excavating.

Who to call?

The good news is we’ve never come across a drain that can’t be fixed. Newcastle Plumbing Kings are the experts in blocked drains. We are licensed in both plumbing and drain issues, guaranteeing you efficient and quality service. You can rely us for your plumbing emergencies. Call us today on 1800 313 222. We serve areas across the central coast including Newcastle, Hunter Valley, Central Coast and Lake Macquarie.

Our licensed plumbers have the right knowledge and tools to investigate and fix blocked drains. We also give upfront pricing so you will not have to worry about any hidden charges.

How To Spot A Blocked Drain: 6 Tell Tale Signs

At Newcastle Plumbing Kings, our number #1 call out – for urgent and non-urgent jobs – is blocked drains. Some of our customers have no idea that their drain is blocked until we finish our investigations and that’s ok. Sometimes, you don’t know what you don’t know. Plumbing is not ‘common sense’ it is taught and shown. That’s why Newcastle Plumbing Kings is here to teach the basics signs to identify a blocked drain – without doing a full plumbing apprenticeship.

Here are some tell-tale signs to identify you have blocked drains:

Foul smell

The first sign of a blocked drain is an unusual foul smell. Smelly drains can occur both inside and outside of the home. This sewage-like or foul smell could be food debris, oil and other nasties slowly decomposing in your pipes, instead of further down the line – where they should be.

The stronger the smell, the more serious the problem could be. If you can smell something odd in or around your drains, we encourage you to investigate or call give Newcastle Plumbing Kings a call.

Slow draining

Another subtle giveaway for blocked drains is slow draining. Toilets, baths and sink drains are designed to create a whirlpool motion to efficiently drain water. It should only take showers and household sinks seconds to empty – without bubbles. If you notice water pooling down the bottom of your drain and taking longer than expected to empty, you may have a blocked drain. Slow draining is due to water bottlenecking around a blockage in the pipes and the decreased. Just remember, if flush the toilet, the water should never rise higher, or sit lower than the usual water level.

Increased water level

No one knows your house as well as you do, you may subconsciously know approximately normal water level your toilets and showers fill to before they start to drain? Is it a little higher than usual? Us Aussies have a very low toilet water line compared to our American friends. Slow draining can lead to an increased water level in sinks, showers and toilets as new water piles up on top of dirty water waiting to be drained. Be careful if you notice one of your sinks or toilets has an increased water level, refrain to urge to keep flushing or add more water. Do not hesitate to call a plumber like Newcastle Plumbing Kings, as an increased water line may lead to…


What starts out as a decreased flow, needs to be carefully monitored. Blocked drains rarely fix themselves. If you keep flushing or try to add water to ‘fix’ the blockage, you may end up with an overflow. This is a pretty gnarly and messy situation, no one wants to clean up.

In the event your drains end up overflowing do the following:

  • Under no circumstances flush or add more water.
  • Block off the area and make it safe, cleaning up any overflow.
  • Call an emergency plumber. If you live on the central NSW coast, you can call Newcastle Plumbing Kings to come out for emergencies.

Gurgling sounds

So far, we’ve learnt that you can see and smell blockages but did you know you can also hear them too?  If you hear some unusual gurgling sounds from your drains, pipes or toilets, it’s a sign you may have a blockage. That gurgling sound is caused by air bubbles trapped in the drainage escaping to the surface. Gurgling is not a normal noise. Gurgling sounds indicate that the water is pooling and pushing against the pipe. It is best to investigate or call a plumber before the situation gets worse.

Sewerage or greywater coming out of your outside drains

So far, we have covered the basics for spotting blocked drains inside your homes but how do spot a blocked drain outside of the home? Some blockages can ride their way down the pipes in our kitchens and bathrooms and causes blockages in the main household sewer drain.

If you check your outside drains and discover sewerage or grey water seeping out of your outside drains. This could mean there is a blockage in your sewer main and it has caused backflow.

How do I know if I have a blocked sewer?

  • Really foul smell caused by sewerage.
  • Greywater or sewerage leaking from pipes
  • Muddy area around pipes that never dries.

If you discover a blockage involving your sewer, call a plumber like Newcastle Plumbing Kings straight away and we can prioritise your job.

Being able to identify a blocked drains makes life easier for yourself and your plumber as we immediately know what to look for.

Who to call?

Newcastle Plumbing Kings are the experts in blocked drains. We are licensed in both plumbing and drain issues, guaranteeing you efficient and quality service. You can rely us for your plumbing emergencies. Call us today on 1800 313 222. We serve areas across the central coast including Newcastle, Hunter Valley, Central Coast and Lake Macquarie.

Our licensed plumbers have the right knowledge and tools to investigate and fix blocked drains. We also give upfront pricing so you will not have to worry about any hidden charges.