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Storm drains play a vital role in preventing rainwater from pooling and flooding your property. Unfortunately, many Australian property owners aren’t very familiar with storm drains and how they work, or more importantly, how to maintain them and how to prevent storm drains from clogging. This can be a serious problem, especially during storm season and with a 3rd La Niña year predicted for the east coast of Australia in a row in 2022, the effects might be even worse.

Properly maintaining your storm drains will help to protect your property by making sure water is safely and effectively channelled away from your home and into a drainage system. In this storm drain guide, we cover everything you need to know regarding storm drain maintenance in order to keep them clog-free and functioning as they should.

At DCM Plumbing, our Gold Coast plumbers are fully qualified, insured and ready to respond to all of your plumbing needs. We have extensive knowledge and experience within the industry and can get to you fast, so if you need help with blocked stormwater drains, contact us immediately. Got a blocked drain? Read blog on how to clear a blocked drain

What Is La Niña?

La Niña is an atmospheric and oceanic phenomenon serving as the wet counterpart to El Niño. During a La Niña year like we have on the Gold Coast this year in 2022 (and last year… and the year before), the waters of the equatorial Pacific undergo widespread cooling, sparking widespread changes in weather conditions and patterns. Here in Australia, this usually results in torrential rains and storms, greatly increasing the risk of flood. With this year being the third official La Niña in a row, it is set to be a historical storm season that could see floods across the entire east coast of Australia – so make sure you’re prepared! 

When Is Storm Season in Queensland?

According to the Queensland Government, storm season is from October to April. They state that it is vital that you remain vigilant and prepare for storm season. Queensland is the most disaster-prone state in Australia and so these government warnings should not be taken lightly, and that’s why we recommend staying on top of your stormwater drain maintenance to avoid any unnecessary flooding!

What is a Stormwater Drain?

Without storm drains, rain flowing from roofs, through gutters, downpipes and along driveways would simply collect and eventually flood a property or area. But, what exactly is a storm drain?

A storm drain, or stormwater drain, is a type of drain that is designed to remove excess rainwater from roads, pavements, car parks, etc. As such, storm drains are an integral aspect of property drainage and flood prevention. Storm drains are usually not metallic and are made of concrete, PVC, vitrified clay, precast cement, or brick.  

How Does a Stormwater Drain Work?

There are two primary types of storm drain systems – local and civil drain systems.

Local Drainage

Most properties need ways to deal with rainfall so that they don’t flood every time it rains! This typically involves channelling the water to down pipes which then join stormwater pipes, where it can be discharged effectively. Local drainage is usually done through simple methods such as gutters, landscaping, drainage pits etc. It may also require facilities with which to temporarily store excess water (on-site detention systems or OSDs) to prevent the overload of civil drains (local creeks, watercourses etc).

Civil Drainage

Civil drainage is larger scale and involves taking runoff stormwater from densely populated areas and slowly releasing it back into nature. Often, these systems will use naturally occurring features such as oceans or lakes as the end disposal location of the stormwater.

How Does a Storm Drain Become Clogged?

Learning how to maintain your pipes for storm season will help keep your property safe and dry. While plumbing skills are typically not needed, at least not initially, knowing where your storm drains are and keeping them maintained and free of debris will go a long way in protecting your home. Here are a few things to look out for to keep your property safe and ready for storm season, and be sure to contact us today if you need help with blocked stormwater drains.

Collapsed pipework

Collapsed or crushed pipework is a common cause of blocked stormwater drains. It can be caused by deterioration over time or ground movement – a vital reason why checking your stormwater drains regularly can save you a lot of stress in the long run. Better to spot any deterioration early! 

Natural Debris

Stormwater drainage can become clogged by many things, but one of the most common causes of clogging is natural debris. Leaves, twigs, branches, rocks, sand, dirt and even grass clippings can all build up and block stormwater drains. If this occurs, water will not be able to drain properly and may potentially flood the area.

Tree Roots

Tree roots are another common cause of stormwater drain clogs. They are able to grow right through certain drain pipes in search of water. As the roots grow over time, they can become big enough to completely clog the drainage system.

If you notice any serious issues with your storm drains and you live in the Gold Coast area, contact us today. We have years of experience in dealing with storm drains and can make sure that your drains are working as they should. 

Signs and Consequences of a Clogged Storm Drain

When a storm drain becomes clogged or blocked by debris, water will no longer be able to properly drain away from your property, which can cause flooding and severe damage to your home or property. Some of the costly signs and consequences of a clogged storm drain include:

  • Basement and/or ground floor flooding
  • Water damage
  • Structural damage
  • Mould damage
  • Damaged lawn and landscaping

How to Prepare for Storm Season in Queensland

If you want to know how to prepare your stormwater drainage system for storm season in Queensland, check out our blog on how to unblock stormwater drains. Here’s a brief recap: 

  • Clean your drains regularly
  • Recognise the warning signs of a clogged storm drain
  • Have gutter guards and stormwater grates installed
  • Plan the structure of your property carefully (don’t obstruct drainage areas)
  • Allow a professional to do your plumbing

Choose DCM Plumbing for Your Storm Drain Maintenance Needs

While you can’t see a storm drain, you’ll notice it when it backs up as your property will start flooding. The only visible points are where it exits your property into the street or a drainage pit, which may be council owned or on your property, and it’s important to employ good storm drain maintenance practices to keep these points clear of debris.  

If you notice water pooling in your yard, you may have a blocked stormwater drain. We help people clear blocked stormwater drains and can also add extra drainage and stormwater pits to increase the speed at which rain from heavy downpours can get into the main stormwater drainage system. This means flooding is less likely to occur on your property! So, to avoid costly water and property damage, contact us today. 

Finding out how to unblock a stormwater drain is a smart move if you suspect you have blocked stormwater pipes around your home.

A stormwater drainage system in your property consists of gutters, downpipes and stormwater drainage pits. Altogether, this system collects rainwater and sends it to the stormwater drainage network in your street or area.

In this article, you’ll get to know why you have a blocked stormwater drain, how to unblock it, and how you can prevent future occurrences. Have a blocked drain inside the house? Read our blog on how to clear a blocked drain

How Do I Detect Blocked Stormwater Pipes?

There are various signs that can indicate that your stormwater drain is blocked. A few of them include:

  • Overflowing roof gutters would mean your downpipes or underground pipework could be blocked
  • Water pooling or boggy areas in your backyard means water isn’t escaping into the drainage system, so there could be a blockage or just inadequate stormwater drainage
  • Water overflowing from the base of your downpipes indicates a blockage in the stormwater system

Once your stormwater drain or pipe gets blocked, it tends to overflow quickly. This is because stormwater drains usually handle a large amount of water. As such, blocked stormwater pipes can cause serious problems, including:

  • Damage to your property and surroundings: A blocked gutter can cause water to flow into your house. It can pass under doors and damage your floors.
  • Mild health risks: Rainwater that sits around may attract more mosquito breeding or lead to algae growth which can become a slip hazard. If rain cannot get into your stormwater drainage system, water can back up onto your roof, which in turn leads to leaks into your home and possible mould growth.

Therefore, it is essential to ensure that you do all you can to prevent a stormwater drain blockage. This will save your home from a possible flood and the resulting damages that come with it. If you notice a stormwater drainage issue on public land, report it to the Gold Coast Council today.  

Let’s look at some things that can cause a blocked stormwater drain.

What Causes Blocked Stormwater Pipes?

There are various causes of blocked stormwater pipes which include:

Thirsty Trees

The number one cause of blocked stormwater pipes on the Gold Coast is root intrusion from plants and trees. During the long dry winters, roots go looking for sources of water and often find their way into the drainage system. They can grow into the drains for many months, sometimes years, before a problem is noticed.  

We recommend an annual CCTV drain camera inspection of your stormwater system to ensure it’s not compromised during heavy downpours on the Gold Coast in the summer months.

Damaged Stormwater Pipes

The second most common cause of blockages is crushed or broken stormwater pipes. As stormwater drainage isn’t laid very deeply in the ground, it is possible as the ground compacts and vehicles are driven over it, that the stormwater pipes become squashed and broken. This narrows the area for the water to escape and can lead to stormwater drain blockages.

Environmental Matter

This includes materials like leaves, dirt, sand, sticks, small pebbles, mulch and bark from the garden. Usually, water picks up anything on its path and takes it down grates and pipes, especially during storm season on the Gold Coast. There, these materials will accumulate and, with time, cause a blockage.

After heavy rainfall, it is wise to check your stormwater drains. This is to avoid consolidating environmental matter in your drains to prevent a blockage.

Rubbish and Debris

If you do not dispose of your refuse properly, they will compound and cause a stormwater blockage. Refuse lying around the environment can be carried by the rain into your stormwater pipes, and this can cause blockages.

Incorrect Connection

If your stormwater pipes are not correctly connected, then expect to have stormwater drains that are blocked constantly. If you discover that the stormwater pipe on your property is improperly connected, contact a good plumber immediately. 

Often stormwater pipes have not been connected to anything and just come to an end in the ground which can lead to blockages. Occasionally stormwater pipes have been connected into the sewer which is actually illegal and needs to be rectified by a plumbing and drainage expert immediately.

These are the major causes of stormwater drain blockages. But how can these blockages be prevented?

How Do I Prevent Blocked Stormwater Pipes?

The common saying that “prevention is better than cure” is true and definitely also applies to stormwater blockages. It’s better to prevent clogging of your stormwater pipes than to begin clearing blocked stormwater pipes.

Prevention is cost-effective, less stressful, and safer for you, your environment, and your pipes. So, here are some ways to prevent your stormwater drain from blockage.

Regular Cleaning

You should have your drains cleared out by a storm drain cleaning service at least once a year. They will rid your drain of debris and other materials that have built up over time.

This way, you can efficiently ensure that a complete blockage does not occur. It is a good method that will save you money and effort.

Allow a Professional To Do Your Plumbing

You should only let a licensed plumber carry out the installation and maintenance of your household stormwater pipes.

Don’t try to do it yourself! Use an experienced professional with many years of drainage solution experience to ensure you will get a quality result. You don’t want to be revisiting these stormwater issues every year or risk making everything worse.

Recognise the Warning Signs

It is always better to detect a blocked stormwater drain early. When this happens, it will prevent more drastic damages from occurring.

Certain warning signs tell you that your stormwater drain is about to block up or is blocked. These signs include:

  • Water gushing out of your downpipes or roof gutters
  • Flooded grates during downpours
  • Slowly draining water
  • Flooded property

Contact a professional plumber to check out your stormwater drain when you notice any of these signs. Clearing blocked stormwater pipes early will prevent further damage, saving you time and money.

Have Gutter Guards and Stormwater Grates

Guards and grates are an excellent way to prevent blockages. When you install them, they are there to stop debris and leaves from entering the drain. Clean the guards and grates regularly, so the debris does not accumulate. 

Also have your gutters vacuum cleaned by a professional at least once a year and more frequently if you have a lot of shedding trees close to your property.

Plan the Structure of Your Property Carefully

If, for instance, you plan to have a garden on your property, be intentional about where you plant the trees on your property.

Since tree roots and leaves can cause stormwater drain blockages, ensure that you plant trees a reasonable distance away from your stormwater pipes.

How Can I Go About Clearing Blocked Stormwater Pipes?

There are natural, chemical, and technical ways of unblocking blocked drains and pipes. However, if your stormwater drain is blocked, the best thing to do is contact a plumbing and drainage expert to help you unblock the pipes.

It is not advisable to try to unclog your blocked stormwater drains by yourself. This is because, unlike other drainage systems, stormwater drains connect pipes from the roof to channels that then discharge water into the water table or kerb in the street.

It can be challenging to know how to unblock a stormwater drain yourself, so you will need to contact a professional. 

DCM Plumbing and Drainage offers storm drain cleaning services on the Gold Coast that are perfect for every stormwater drain situation. Using the best tools, we will get rid of dirt, leaves and debris from your stormwater drains. We will succeed in clearing your drains in situations where other conventional methods won’t work.

Is your stormwater drain blocked on the Gold Coast? Don’t hesitate, call us at (07) 5576 5305 or contact us online and book your expert plumber today. 

In this article, we’ll walk you through how to clear a blocked drain, as well as some of the common causes and how to prevent a drain from clogging again. 

When unblocking a drain these are the first things you should try:

  • Pour boiling water down the sink
  • Use a natural cleaner like a mix of bicarb and vinegar
  • If that doesn’t work, you can try using a stronger chemical cleaner
  • Plungers are also highly effective
  • Unbent wire hangers can also be effective at physically pushing through a clog

If that doesn’t work then call a blocked drains expert like DCM Plumbing. 

Now, we’ll look at the causes of and solutions to your blocked drains in a little more detail. 

DCM Plumbing is a leading Gold Coast plumber and blocked drains expert. If you need plumbing services of any kind, contact us today. 

What Causes Blocked Drains?

Before learning how to clear a blocked drain, you need to figure out the cause. There are many causes of blocked drains, and usually, a drain gets blocked after a couple of causes work in conjunction and exacerbate one another. The various causes of the clogs will vary depending on whether you have a blocked drain in the kitchen sink, bathtub, shower, or toilet. 

Grease or Cooking Oil

Too much grease or cooking oil isn’t just bad for your heart, it’s also bad for your pipes. Due to its sticky nature, cooking oil can attach itself to the sides of a pipe when being washed down, eventually leading to a drain clog.

How to prevent it

To prevent oil from blocking your drain, try to avoid pouring grease and oil down your drain altogether. To dispose of the oil, you can place it in a container and dispose of it in the rubbish instead. If you must dispose of oil in your kitchen sink, run hot water down the sink with some dishwashing liquid while you pour the fats down the drain, so they don’t solidify. Keep the hot water running for 30 seconds to a minute after you’ve finished pouring the oil down the sink. 

Hair

A few strands of hair going down a drain aren’t a problem, but once they start building up, they can become entangled and lead to a serious clog in your shower drain or basin. 

How to prevent it

To prevent hair from clogging your drain, there are a few things you can do:

  1. Try brushing your hair before getting in the shower. This can help to get rid of any loose hair. 
  2. Use a high-quality hair catcher to stop hair from going down the drain.
  3. Make sure to remove hair from the drain at the end of every bath or shower. Again, a drain can handle a few strands of hair every now and then, it’s when a big clump of hair gets washed down that you might have a blocked drain! 

Wet wipes

Many people think that flushing toiletries such as baby wipes, nappies or toilet paper do not have any adverse effect on drains. Some wet wipes are even marketed as ‘flushable’, this is simply not true. They can even end up making ‘wet wipe islands‘ that can go so far as changing the course of rivers 🤢.

For instance, even flushing excess amounts of toilet paper can cause a clogged drain. This is because the pieces of paper can cling to anything in the drain resulting in a blocked drain. Wet wipes break down much slower than toilet paper and so you can imagine how much worse their effect can be on your drains. 

Also, it should go without saying but flushing nappies is also a bad idea. When it expands, it becomes difficult for it to flow down the drain easily. So, we understand you can’t wait to get rid of those nappies, but you may just get a clogged drain as a result.

How to prevent it

This one is simple enough – just remember the mantra: the only thing that goes down the toilet is human waste toilet paper! 

To find out more, read our blog on how to fix a leaky toilet.

Food Scraps

If you force too many food scraps down your sink, then you might need to unblock your drains frequently. Food scraps can accumulate over time, eventually causing a blockage.

How to prevent it

To prevent your kitchen sink from blocking due to food scraps, you should use a basket waste or sink strainer plug to stop food scraps from entering the sinkhole.

Trees and Leaves

Having plants around your house has its benefits, however, you need to find a way to control the leaves and branches falling off the trees. This will ensure that they do not end up in your drain. The accumulation of leaves and twigs in your drain can cause a blocked drain.

Tree and plant roots are the most common cause of blocked storm drains on the Gold Coast. This happens when thirsty plants and tree roots go looking for water and find a way into your underground pipes via a joint or crack in the pipework.

How to prevent it

  1. Regular cleaning: Regularly cleaning the storm drains and the surrounding area can help to prevent the buildup of leaves and twigs. 

  2. Install leaf guards: Leaf guards can be installed over the storm drain to prevent leaves and twigs from getting inside. 

  3. Proper landscaping: Proper landscaping can also help to prevent leaves and twigs from getting into storm drains. 

Mineral Build up

Calcium can build up in your pipes. This typically happens when you have hard water, i.e., water with a high mineral content from calcium, magnesium, or potassium. The hard water will usually build up in pipes and may eventually cause blockages.

How to prevent it

  1. Use a water softener: A water softener is a device that removes minerals from hard water, which can reduce the amount of calcium build-up in your drain.

  2. Use vinegar: Regularly pour vinegar down your drain to help dissolve calcium build-up. Mix one part vinegar with one part water and pour it down the drain, leaving it for about 30 minutes before flushing with hot water.

  3. Use a drain strainer: Using a drain strainer can help prevent hair, soap, and other debris from clogging your drain, which can exacerbate calcium build-up.

  4. Regularly clean your drains: Regularly cleaning your drains can help remove any calcium build-up before it becomes a problem. You can use a mixture of baking soda and vinegar, followed by hot water, to clean your drains.

  5. Hire a professional: If you have a particularly stubborn calcium build-up, it may be necessary to hire a professional to clean your drains. A Gold Coast plumber can use special tools and techniques to remove the build-up and prevent future blockages.

Cat litter

Allowing cat litter to wash into the drain can lead to a clump. This clump can completely block a pipe or drain.

How to prevent it

  1. Don’t flush cat litter down the toilet. Simple as that. Even if the litter is labelled as “flushable,” it’s still better to dispose of it in the trash. Flushing litter down the toilet can contribute to clogs in your plumbing and even in the wider city sewer system.

  2. Use a litter mat. Placing a mat underneath your cat’s litter box can help catch any litter that your cat might track out of the box. This can prevent the litter from going down the drain in the first place.

  3. Install a drain strainer. A drain strainer can be placed over your drain to catch any litter or other debris that might try to go down the drain. This can be especially helpful if you have multiple cats or if your cat has a tendency to kick litter out of the box.

  4. Clean your drain regularly. Even if you take steps to prevent litter from going down the drain, some small particles may still make their way through.

How to Clear Blocked Drains

Now that we know what could cause blocked drains, let’s find out how to clear blocked drains.

There are various methods you can use to unblock drains. These procedures are, however, not foolproof. Depending on the extent and cause of the clogged drain, they may not work.

In cases like that, it’s always best to reach out to a blocked drains expert. You don’t want to turn a messy (and most likely stinky) situation into an even messier one.

So, here are some tips to help with minor blockages.

Boiling Water

One of the simplest ways to unblock drains is to use boiling water. Using this method requires pouring the boiling water into the sinkhole, toilet bowl, e.t.c. Boiling water can break down most clumps made up of items like soaps and food scraps.

To make this method even more effective, you can mix the boiling water with detergent. However, if you have a PVC pipe, then you should opt for hot water rather than boiling water.

Natural Cleaners

To unblock drains, you can also use a mixture of bicarbonate of soda and vinegar. Combine these items into boiling water for more effectiveness, and then pour the mixture down the drain.

This method will not be effective if a hard object is the cause of the blockage.

Caustic Cleaners

You can unblock drains with a caustic cleaner, but you have to be careful. When using a caustic cleaner, you will need to pour it into the blocked drain and leave it for a specific time, then flush with cold water.

Caustic cleaners can dissolve organic materials such as hair and food scraps. You should avoid using a caustic cleaner if you have a PVC pipe, old pipes, or pipes with glue in their makeup as it might do more harm than good.

Plungers

The trusty plunger is one of the most effective ways to unblock drains. All you need to do is to get a plunger that properly seals around a drainage hole, and apply short bursts of pressure.

Applying these short bursts of pressure can dislodge blockages and help to unblock your pipes. It’s a cost-effective and simple solution to what can be a serious problem! 

Wire Hanger

You can use a wire hanger to unblock drains. You only need to unbend the hanger and make a small hook at one of its ends. You can then insert it into the drain to fish out any object causing a blockage. However, this method is only effective for minor blockages.

Blocked Drains FAQs

Can coffee grounds block drains?

When coffee grounds are washed down the drain, they don’t dissolve like other substances such as soap or shampoo. Instead, they can build up in your pipes and create a thick, sludgy mess that traps other debris that flows through the drain. This can eventually lead to a complete blockage, leaving you with a sink or shower that won’t drain properly (sorry to say your coffee face scrub may be a bad idea!). 

But fear not! There are ways to prevent this from happening.

You can dispose of your coffee grounds by throwing them in the trash or composting them instead of washing them down the drain. Another helpful tip is to use an Insinkerator, which will catch any stray coffee grounds and prevent them from causing any plumbing problems.

So next time you’re enjoying your morning cup of caffeinated goodness, be sure to dispose of those coffee grounds properly and avoid a plumbing disaster!

Can hair block drains?

Yes, absolutely. As outlined above, hair is one of the most common causes of blocked drains. Once hair accumulates in a drain it essentially becomes a web that entangles anything else that might go down the drain. So be careful! You have been warned… 

Can oil block drains?

Yes, oil can block drains, as outlined above.

When oil is poured down a drain, it can solidify and congeal as it cools, forming a sticky and thick mass that can block the flow of water through the drain. This can cause the drain to become clogged and prevent water from draining properly. Even worse are other cooking fats such as butter, lard, margarine, or coconut oil, that might be solid at room temperature! 

Furthermore, oil in a drain also attracts other materials like dirt, hair, and food particles, which can become stuck to the oil and exacerbate the clog. Over time, this can lead to a complete blockage of the drain, which may require professional plumbing services to resolve (and if you need a blocked drain expert, you know who to call).

To prevent oil from blocking your drains, it’s important to dispose of oil properly. Don’t pour oil down the drain or toilet, but instead collect it in a container and dispose of it in the general waste bin. You can also consider recycling used cooking oil, which can be turned into biodiesel or other useful products.

Can tea leaves block drains?

Tea leaves are small in size and can often pass through drains without causing any major blockage. However, if you regularly dispose of a large amount of tea leaves down the drain, they can accumulate and combine with other materials, such as grease or hair, to create a blockage in your pipes.

To prevent this, it’s best to dispose of your tea leaves in the trash or compost instead of pouring them down the drain. Additionally, you can use a strainer or a mesh filter to catch any loose tea leaves before they enter the drain.

Need Help Clearing a Blocked Drain?

Blocked drains are a pain, especially when you’ve done everything you can to unblock them. What happens then? Well, you should call DCM Plumbing & Drainage if you’re on the Gold Coast!

As professional plumbers, we’ve been clearing blocked drains on the Gold Coast for almost 20 years. And we not only have the skills and experience, but we also have state-of-the-art technology to clear up even the most difficult of clogged drains.

All homeowners will experience a blocked drain from time to time. If you call out a plumber to help, the chances are they’ll use a camera to locate the blockage and figure out exactly what is causing it. If you’d like to know more about drain cameras, their benefits, and their costs, carry on reading.

Drain camera inspections are a very necessary service to ensure the integrity of your pipes after they have been cleared which is why we offer free drain camera inspections with every high-pressure jetting job.

WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF A FREE DRAIN CAMERA INSPECTION?

Thanks to advancements in technology, cameras are an effective way to determine what’s causing a blocked drain. Whether there is debris stuck in your drain or the blockage is being caused by a broken part, a camera will help identify the cause.

THE BENEFITS OF USING A CAMERA INCLUDE:

  • Speed: Drain cameras are the quickest way to assess the condition of your pipelines and drains. Not only will this get to the bottom of what’s causing your blockage fast, but it can speed up the repair process too.
  • Accuracy: Thanks to the camera, the repair and replacement process is much more accurate. Plumbing professionals will be able to see exactly what the problem is instead of making an assumption and potentially carrying out repair work that causes even more damage.
  • Cost: Attempting to clear a blocked drain yourself requires a lot of guesswork and may only be a temporary fix. With a camera, you get to the bottom of the issue straight away, preventing blockages from reoccurring and costing you more money in repair work down the line.

Factors to consider

There are several factors that influence a drain camera inspection. Some factors that should be taken into consideration include:

Ease of access

If your drain is difficult to access, it’s worth bearing in mind that ground excavation may be necessary to access the pipework. Also, in some instances, a toilet may need to be removed to access the drain.

Size of your drains

If you’ve got a bigger house, chances are your drainage system is larger too which can increase the time it takes to complete the inspection.

REASONS YOU MAY NEED A DRAIN CAMERA INSPECTION:

If you notice any of the following in your drains, we strongly recommend you book a drain camera inspection:

  • Water coming back up
  • Unpleasant odours
  • Water draining away slowly
  • Gurgling sounds
  • Frequent blockages

If you’d like to know more about unblocking your drains and the process of having a drain camera inspection after your drains have been unblocked, don’t hesitate to contact our team at DCM Plumbing and Drainage Pty Ltd by giving us a call on (07) 5576 5305.

It’s around this time of year when we’re entertaining more and often have friends and family drop in for a visit, and the last thing anyone wants is a toilet that won’t flush. Trying to figure out the problem can be frustrating if you don’t know what you’re looking for. There are three common reasons for a toilet not being able to flush, and in most cases you should be able to fix these problems yourself.

Most households will come across problems with toilets flushing at some point or another, but the solutions can be more easily fixed than you first might think.

Here are the top three reasons your toilet won’t flush and how you can try to fix it yourself.

  • blocked toilet
  • The water level is low
  • The flushing valve or button is broken

A BLOCKED TOILET

This is something that can happen regularly if anyone in your household is flushing items that shouldn’t be flushed. The problem can be as simple as too much toilet paper, or flushing sanitary items, baby wipes, or even toys. Yes, when little ones are around, you’d be surprised at what plumbers have found flushed down the toilet causing a blockage.

The solution is to firstly use a toilet plunger to try and create suction that will dislodge paper and any waste that has built up. The suction movement will push and pull the blockage until it dislodges and moves further down the pipe. Once the waste has moved past the first bend of the pipes, it will often flush more easily. If you’re discovering frequent blocks, you might want to try flushing more frequently on full flush and making sure there is a toilet bin where people can throw away sanitary items.

THE WATER LEVEL IS LOW

Take off the top of the cistern and check the water level. The water tank level should be around one inch below the tanks overflow level. If it’s lower, then it could be a sign that there is a leak or that the water valve has been turned off.

The solution is to check the water valve tap, which is the tap next to the toilet base. Check that it hasn’t been accidentally turned off. If this is on and there is pressure, the other reason could be a worn-out valve, causing the water that is refilling the cistern to leak into the bowl. Or it could be a faulty inlet valve. Both of these valves can be easily replaced, and you can buy them at a hardware store.

THE FLUSHING VALVE OR FLUSHING BUTTON IS BROKEN

In most modern toilets, the outlet flushing valve and the flushing button are made from plastics that can become brittle or broken over time. The button which lifts the outlet valve to flush water down the cistern can become detached, stuck or broken from continuous use and may need to be replaced. Depending on the make or model of your flushing valve it can have plastic tabs that lock it into place which may have become broken or the entire valve system may need replacing. Luckily replacing these is not expensive. A flush button can be as little as $10-15, and an entire dual valve outlet kit can be as low as $40-60 depending on the make and model.

When in doubt, call a professional plumber!

While these three situations are the most common reason for a toilet not flushing properly if you’ve tried to solve the problem yourself and still have no luck, give us a call at DCM Plumbing. Sometimes even the best intentions of fixing a plumbing job yourself may result in still needing a professional to come out and help get your toilets flushing once again.

DCM Plumbing and Drainage are members of the Master Plumbers Association of Queensland and fully licensed with QBCC (Queensland Building and Construction Commission) to carry out all repairs and replacements for toilets.

For complete peace of mind and fast, courteous service, call DCM Plumbing and Drainage on (07) 5576 5305.

The question of the day: are flushable wipes truly safe to flush? It wasn’t that long ago that the good people of Australia were going crazy over toilet paper along with the rest of the world. The start of Covid-19 saw a time when loo paper was looking rather valuable, while some opted for other wipeable options as shelves emptied.

The problems caused by these, now used, ‘flushable’ products, however, have been going on long before the recent toilet paper panic buys of 2020. Yet, more individuals believe that the labels of such flushable products are correct and are proceeding to flush the actually-non-flushable wipes down the toilet.

First off, even if a product plainly states that it’s ‘flushable’, think twice before endangering your pricey sewage system, as well as, the environment! Secondly, it was back in 2017 that a Water UK report outlined the dangers that flushing wipes bring to sewage systems and the environment. Thirdly, just because the product says ‘flushable’ doesn’t mean it is suitable for every toilet. Every toilet is different, and when applying your common sense, you’ll be able to see that these one-size-fits-all flushable wipes do not fit every toilet type and system and therefore can’t possibly be flushable.

In this blog, we look to prove once again that the only thing that is to be flushed down your toilet is loo paper. Throughout this blog, the professional voice of the plumber is heard in attempts to convince home dwellers never to believe what’s written on a label and rather to save their toilets from problems by sticking to good old fashioned toilet paper. By the end of this blog, you’ll know how safe flushing “flushable” wipes down the drain is for your home sewage system.

CAN I FLUSH THESE WIPES?

According to the Washington Post, the labelling of flushable wipes as “flushable” is not false advertising – you can flush these wipes, but our question is whether you should. Tim Carter (the author), makes an excellent counterpoint regarding this statement. Various objects such as cell phones, golf balls, toys, you name it, are flushed – but, of course, doing this is highly ill-advised.

WHAT EXACTLY IS THE PROBLEM?

The wipes that we are looking into a little more closely are wipes that are labelled as “flushable” and “septic-safe”. When it comes to marketing, we know to take everything in with a pinch of salt. Even though these wipes do break down eventually, they take a longer amount of time to do this compared to toilet paper. Because the breakdown of this product isn’t as immediate, blockages and clogged pipes occur more frequently as a result. By flushing these wipes, you are putting your home’s plumbing at risk for serious clogs. This increases the likelihood of accumulating some hefty plumbing bills.

EVEN IF THE LABEL PROMISES SAFE FLUSHING, IT’S STILL NOT SAFE

As mentioned, it’s a common strategy for the manufacturers of these products to make it seem like these wipes are super easy to dispose of. However, after these wipes are disposed of in this way, they can get caught up with other items that are in your sewer line at the same time. Other commonly-flushed items that contribute to backups and clogs include toilet cleaning pads, sanitary pads, dental floss, cotton swabs, paper towels and thick toilet paper.

Another reason to not flush wet wipes down the toilet is its biodegradability. Many products that are also flushed down the toilet are done so because they are labelled as ‘biodegradable’. Many consumers don’t investigate it that much but what this means is that the wipe will break down into smaller pieces. The product doesn’t entirely decompose. The consequence of this is the release of millions of microfibers into the surrounding ecosystems and the formation of fatbergs (flushed non-biodegradable solid matter that forms a mass in a sewer system).

To sum up all of the above; even if a product plainly states that it’s ‘flushable’, think twice before endangering your pricey sewage system, as well as, the environment!

For more advice, check-ins and plumbing solutions, contact DCM Plumbing & Drainage today. Stay tuned for more tips, answers, preventative measures and solutions from Gold Coast plumbing experts.

Blocked drains are a major inconvenience and something you want to take care of as soon as possible. Letting it go too long can lead to more costly plumbing work and may interfere with your ability to use your drains.

One of the leading causes of blocked drains is putting something down that shouldn’t go down. However, there are other causes of blocked drains and knowing what they are can help you prevent the problem and here at DCM Plumbing and Drainage, we can help.

HAIR
When you shower or bathe, you naturally lose some hairs that go down the drain. Hair tends to collect in the drains and over time can build up to the point that you end up with a blocked drain.

Hair can also bind with other items that have gone down the drain, preventing it from being flushed down properly. Use a guard in your drain to collect the hair and prevent the issue.

FOOD WASTE
Even with a quality garbage disposal unit, some things shouldn’t go down your kitchen drain. Fat and grease tend to coat the pipes, trapping other items that go down, leading to a blockage.

Rice and pasta absorb liquid and get bigger while coffee grounds and eggshells collect other debris and turn into globs that can easily block your drains. It’s best to put all food waste in the rubbish bin instead of the kitchen sink.

SMALL OBJECTS
The leading cause of blockages, as mentioned above, is putting things into your drains that don’t belong there.

This can be because you don’t realise it’s a bad idea or because you have children who are experimenting in the drains. Either way, you can prevent a blockage by not flushing anything down the toilet except human waste and toilet tissue.

In the sink drains, avoid putting large amounts of dirt, pebbles, toys, stickers, and other small items down.

TREE ROOTS
You don’t have a lot of control over this issue, but tree roots are one of the leading causes of blocked drains on the Gold Coast. If you have any kind of leak or crack in your pipes, large or small, it can lead to root build-up that can block the pipes and cause overflow in your drains.

Clearing those roots is a job best left to the professionals and we’re happy to help you get it done right.

If you have a blocked drain, call DCM Plumbing and Drainage for help right away. We can deal with it as an emergency if required.

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