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What are the main causes of blocked drains?

Today’s post is a simple one.

Amazingly, 83% of all blocked drains in Australia are caused by tree roots!

Cooking fats, oils and grease, human and pet hair, sanitary products, facial tissues and napkins used instead of toilet paper, dental floss and broken or collapsed pipes make up the other 17% of blocked drains.

If you have persistent problems with your sewer pipes caused by tree roots then this simple instruction found in the “head” or toilet of an ocean racing yacht, makes a lot of sense to me. I’m sure the yacht owners won’t mind if you put a similar sign in your troubled bathroom.

 

Why we need a plan of our sewer pipes

Generally, when sewer pipes and drains are installed by a licensed plumber, they are inspected by an authorised person who draws a plan of the drainage installation showing where the drains run, what plumbing fixtures are connected and what, if any, other properties are connected.

Currently, we have a self inspection system where the plumber draws the drainage installation and submits the drawing to the local water authority or council for their records.

Owners can get a copy of this diagram from their local water authority or council. If your property has a history of blocked drains or is surrounded by trees, I strongly suggest you have a copy of this drainage diagram and keep it in a safe and easily accessible place.

Your local plumber can assist with getting a copy of this drainage diagram.

In NSW Australia, a drainage diagram is a standard inclusion in a Contract of Sale for any property. I suggest you look there first!

 

Who is responsible for these drains?

Problems with drains, including blockages, occur no matter what type of building you live in.

Most single or multiple level houses have their own drainage systems taking the discharge from all the plumbing fixtures within the property. The owner of the  property is responsible for the maintenance and upkeep of their pipes up to the point where his pipes join the council main.

Rows of terrace houses in inner city suburbs and semi-detached homes often drain into a “common sewer line”. These terrace rows can have up to 20 homes or more, draining into one common line. Depending on the fall of the land, this common sewer line may pass across the front or rear of the row and then  spill into a Boundary trap, before discharging into the Water authority’s main sewer line.

Generally, the common sewer line should be maintained by the owners of the properties connected to the sewer line, and costs associated with works or repairs on this  common sewer line should be borne by all parties on that common sewer line.

If blockages, repairs or pipe renewals are confined to the pipes and drains that take the discharge from any one particular house on the common sewer line, then those costs should be borne by that individual.

Any property owners connected to a common sewer line should be aware that should a blockage occur in the common line, downstream of where he/she connects to the line, the sewer may surcharge or overflow in his/her yard or garden if it is the lowest open drain in the line.

This can be quite unpleasant if someone else’s sewer is coming up in your yard or even worse, your home!

When blockages occur, we recommend that all owners connected to a common sewer line communicate and co-operate with all other parties on this line .

Strata home unit blocks and Townhouses will have their own drainage lines that generally drain to a Boundary trap and then on to the Water Authority or Council sewer mains.

The responsibility for the maintenance and repairs of these drains is generally directed by a Strata Title Manager  and sometimes a Real Estate Property Manager.

Commercial properties, Industrial Estates and Schools generally all have their own  drainage lines that generally drain to a Boundary trap and then on to the Water Authority or Council sewer mains.