Good drainage is vital to a smooth-running home — as you will discover when it breaks down. Problems are easier to solve if they are dealt with early, so how can you tell if your drains are becoming blocked?
Slow draining water
Perhaps the most obvious sign of blocked drains is if your water is draining away too slowly. This is very useful in showing you exactly where the blockage has happened. If only one of the fixtures in your household is draining away too slowly, the problem will be with the pipe to that fixture; but if everything has a problem, it is likely to be with your sewer pipe.
Blocked drains can lead to very unpleasant smells that can permeate the entire house. These are usually caused by pieces of food that have become stuck in the pipe and are starting to rot. This is often the first sign that there is a problem, so do not ignore any foul odours that are coming from your drains. Once the drains are cleared, the smells should go away.
Any change in how your plumbing works should make you suspicious. If your drains start making gurgling sounds, this may be a sign of a problem. The sounds are caused by air bubbles being unable to travel through the pipes and having to escape through the nearest vent. The location of the sound will enable you to work out where the problem is.
Water levels rising
If the water level in your toilet is rising higher than usual, this is a sign that there is a blockage in the pipes somewhere. You may be able to fix it with a plunger, particularly if you address the problem early, but if the water rises to overflowing, there is probably a more serious blockage.
Damp patches on walls or on the floor, particularly in a localised area of your home, may be a sign that there is a problem with your drains. If a pipe has been damaged, the water will collect in the ground rather than being drained away, and this can lead to problems with damp in your property.
If you feel you have a blocked drain, don't ignore it. The simplest way to deal with it is to call in the professionals, who will identify the problem and fix it quickly and with the minimum of disruption.