Identifying the culprits causing drain blockages

Plunger in sink

If you’ve ever experienced a blocked drain, you know the frustration behind not being able to find and identify what is causing the blockage! Luckily, CCTV drain surveys now make it much simpler to locate a blockage and spot what’s causing the issue – and there have been some shocking discoveries!

With more and more drains being blocked by weird and wacky items, this month we’re taking a look at some of the items discovered, and advising on what items should head to the bin rather than down the sink or toilet!

What items are the worst offenders?

A recent Lanes for Drains survey has been identifying the worst offenders in the country for flushing inappropriate items down the drain, and the items they’ve been disposing of. The following five items come as no surprise as topping the polls:

  1. Fat, oil and grease – A whopping 42.2% of surveyed homeowners in Birmingham admit to pouring their used fat and oils down their drains!
  2. Sanitary products – 22% of Edinburgh respondents confess to flushing their sanitary products.
  3. Paper towels – 25.8% of those who answered the survey in Leeds had flushed paper towels down the toilet rather than placed them in the bin.
  4. Dental floss – In Edinburgh, 22% of those asked had thrown their used dental floss down the drains.
  5. Cigarette butts – 22% of Glasgow residents involved in the survey admitted to tossing their cigarette butts down the toilet or into the sink.

We’re sure one or two of you are also guilty of a few of these! These items are made up out of materials that don’t break down or disintegrate in water, which means that when you flush them or pour them down the drain, they don’t move freely through the drains, causing buildups in the system that reduces water flow through the pipes and causes your drains to back up and overflow.

What are the strangest items that have been discovered clogging up drains?

False teeth
  1. False teeth – We’re not sure how dentures are finding their way down the drains and into sewers, but false teeth are a common item found to be clogging up the plumbing.
  2. Clothes – Whether it’s underwear or socks, tops, jeans or jackets, large clothing items have been reportedly found in drains up and down the country. Again, we’re not sure why these items need to be flushed, or how they were squeezed down the toilet!
  3. Animals – Sadly, drain experts are often having to remove the bodies of animals that have been flushed down the toilet. While fish are to be expected from time to time, cats, turtles and snakes are all common occurrences too. Please do not flush your animals – dead or alive – down the toilet!
  4. Mobile phones – Mobile phones may be more frequent, but iPods, batteries and other handheld devices have all been reported too!
  5. Toys – We’re putting this one down to mischievous toddlers! Teddy bears and action figures, as well as small parts from larger toys are often found clogging up our drains. Keep a close eye on what your children are doing with poor Ted next time they take him to the bathroom, it may be the last time you see him!

Other items you shouldn’t put down the drains

To ensure that your drains remain completely blockage-free and continue to function properly, you should avoid putting any item that doesn’t disintegrate or break up in water down the drain. Other items which you may be wrongly disposing of that aren’t already mentioned include:

  • Coffee grounds
  • Egg shells
  • Produce stickers
  • Cat/dog litter (even the “flushable” kind – animal litter contains cat faeces which can harbor disease-causing parasites that are a threat to marine life)
  • Latex
  • Cotton balls
  • Wet wipes (including the “flushable” variety)
  • Cleaning products
  • Medications
  • Rice or pasta
  • Fruit pits or skins
  • Bones
  • Flour
  • Nappies
  • Garden waste

While some of these may seem intuitive, others may come as a shock. If you’re ever in doubt about whether or not something can be flushed, take the safe option and don’t flush it!

I think I have something lodged in my drain, how do I find out what it is?

If you think you have a blockage forming or you’ve disposed of something potentially harmful down your drains, a CCTV drain survey is the most convenient way of finding and identifying the blockage. CCTV drain surveys aren’t intrusive in any way, so this service can be carried out quickly and with minimal disruption to day-to-day life.

See also our post “10 Things You Should Never Flush Down The Toilet

To arrange your high resolution drain survey, get in contact with Express Drainage Surveys today. Our super thin technology and flexible rods means that we can provide domestic & commercial surveys for drains with access as small as 50mm up to a depth of 150 metres, providing a thorough, accurate assessment of the length of your drains.