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Understanding Blocked Drains in Apartments

Property owners in apartment buildings must maintain free-flowing drains to avoid damage and disruption to residents. Blocked drains are caused by debris, fats, oils, tree roots, or other materials that clog pipes and restrict water flow.

Apartment plumbing systems are intricate, with blocked drains potentially affecting the network of connected horizontal pipes. If one pipe gets blocked, it might be time to call a professional plumber as it can impede drainage into your apartment and cause bad smells, leaks, and water damage on lower floors.

To prevent water leaks, thorough plumbing maintenance is required, including the clearing of apartment drain blockages with specialised equipment and expertise for complex plumbing configurations. It’s important to take care not to clog in-unit drain lines, and your strata also requires maintenance plans addressing common blocks that might impact your apartment.

Common Causes of Blockages

The question of what causes blocked drains in apartments often arises from several common issues:

Grease and Food Buildup

Trapped food particles can lead to the accumulation of greasy sludge over time.

Grease solidifies upon cooling, forming stubborn clogs, while soap scum also accumulates on pipe walls.

Hair and Debris

There could be obstructions in pipes as loose hair, dirt, and sundry items like cotton swabs and dental floss easily snag inside drains, sometimes even leading to a burst pipe. As debris collects, it narrows pipe diameters and can lead to impeded wastewater. Hair knots around clogs, binding additional materials and creating substantial obstructions.

Invasive Tree Roots

Trees positioned near underground sewer lines may infiltrate tiny cracks or loose pipe joints seeking moisture. Roots proliferate inside pipes, where blocks can cause amalgamating into robust masses that result in entirely plugged drainage. Older pipe systems are especially prone to root invasion where a problem occurs.

Preventing Blockages

Proper waste disposal habits and the installation of protective measures are key strategies for preventing plumbing problems in apartment drain systems.

Waste Disposal

To prevent frozen pipes during colder months, apartment owners should refrain from pouring fats, oils, and grease down sinks and opt to collect them in containers for proper disposal. Scrape food scraps into the bin rather than rinsing down your sink drains. Capture hair in sinks and showers to ensure your water keeps flowing smoothly, preventing it from going down drain with the use of drain screens.

Drain Screens

Installing drain screens or mesh filters on fixtures such as sinks and showers helps trap debris, preventing it from entering the pipes. Doing this will help build up your preventative measures, much more effectively keeping hair, food scraps, and other particles from accumulating into clogs within your pipes. Screens should be cleaned regularly to prevent the accumulation of other debris and maintain drainage flow.

Strata schemes work to protect homes by conducting routine maintenance to prevent plumbing blockages, including regular hydro-jetting of drainage stacks and CCTV sewer line inspections. It’s crucial to identify the culprit drain, shut off the water supply, and address minor clogs early to avoid costly major backups.

Responsibilities for Drain Maintenance

Determining responsibility for plumbing maintenance can be complex; tenants are responsible for keeping sinks, showers, tubs, and drains clear within their units. This is when liaising with your landlord becomes essential in rental properties as issues that cause significant discomfort can impact other tenants as well.

Your owners’ corporation maintains building common area drains and the broader plumbing infrastructure, like underground sewers, vertical drainage stacks, and branch lines interconnecting apartments. Clearing blockages inside walls or floors, common apartment plumbing problems, falls to strata.

When to Call a Professional

Resolving common apartment plumbing drain issues can be challenging; for failed DIY attempts, contact Minchinbury Plumbing on 1300 349 338 or jobs@minchinburyplumbingservices.com.au. Our specialists have the equipment, expertise, and experience that can fix common apartment drainage challenges, clear stubborn clogs and also read the situation for preventative inspections.

If blockages in drain pipes are suspected to affect the municipal water supply and impact multiple units or common property, the building manager must promptly call a plumber to mitigate damage. We are available 24/7 to resolve apartment plumbing emergencies on your property.

Detecting and Diagnosing Blockages

There are several signs your home might be facing a potential blockage, one of the most common plumbing problems, requiring inspection:

  • Water draining slowly, possibly indicating low water pressure or blockages
  • Gurgling sounds from pipes when water drains
  • Unpleasant raw sewage odours, sometimes intensifying with water use
  • Your toilet, along with sinks, showers, and baths taking longer to empty
  • Leaky pipes can also become blocked, leading to spills of unclean water, signaling severe issues, or creating water spots on walls and ceilings.

We adopt a structured process to inspect and diagnose drain issues for apartment blocks and commercial plumbing projects.

Visual Inspection

Technicians inspect roof plumbing vents for blockages that prevent air from facilitating water release from pipes. Signs like moist vent caps or mineral buildup may indicate obstructions.

Hydro Jetting

Our pressurised water jets thoroughly clear apartment drainage lines from rooftop stacks to subterranean sewer connections to prevent build-up. This action forces out accumulated grease, waste, and debris, efficiently clearing blockages and ensuring water flows where it’s supposed to with clarity.

CCTV Drain Camera

Snaking flexible cameras inside pipes, we closely examine where debris can cause blockages, identifying exact locations, types, and severity. Advanced cameras detect even small accumulations before major clogs form.

CCTV also checks pipe integrity for cracks, root invasion and junction condition helping prioritise maintenance needs.

Call our office to carry out professional drain inspections keeping your building’s plumbing clear.

Methods for Clearing Clogs

There are several methods for clearing blocked drains, depending on the location and severity of clogs:


Plungers can be used to manually dislodge blockages using suction. Effective for clearing your drain when sinks, tubs, and showers are clogged with hair and debris. Use a forceful plunging technique to fully compress the rubber cup multiple times, loosening the blockage.

Chemical Drain Cleaners

Use a mixture of hot water and liquid drain cleaner to chemically dissolve organic matter and grease. Best suited for minor kitchen sink clogs. Strictly follow product instructions, as concentrated formulas can damage pipes if overused.

Drain Augers/Snakes

Using a rotating drain snake in a drain line enables the auger to physically hook and remove debris. Useful for clearing difficult clogs in unit sink traps and branch lines. Requires slowly working the cutter head past the blockage to capture and remove it.

For thorough cleaning of the entire plumbing system, hydro jetting stands as the most effective method in such cases. We use high-powered water jets on tanker trucks to scour clogged drains and pipe interiors under intense pressure. The powerful stream coming out from the hydro jet propels clogs and vacuums debris away in one pass.

Hydro jet blasting is generally the best solution for tough clogs in the main sewer line that affect multiple apartments and their storage tanks. We can also jet individual stacks and vent lines on roofs. CCTV drain inspections ensure pipes are left pristine.

Get in touch with our office to discuss services we offer, such as maintaining your apartment block’s water heater units.

Seeking Professional Help

For persistent clogs or blockages impacting an entire apartment building, the specialised equipment and the skill of a licensed plumber are required:

Why Call Us

Our local plumbers can swiftly address common plumbing problems, such as severe main line and sewer blockages, with advanced techniques like hydro jetting. We have the proper tools and know-how to handle complex apartment buildig plumbing layouts.

Services Offered

  • Rapid response to high pressure drain emergencies 24/7
  • High-pressure hydro jetting to scour blocked pipes
  • Pipe relining and replacement for failing drain lines
  • Regular drain inspections and preventative maintenance

Contact Us for Assistance

Minchinbury Plumbing is ready to help with any plumbing concerns in your apartment. Call us on 1300 349 338 to schedule service or email jobs@minchinburyplumbingservices.com.au with your needs.

Our experts, including a drain specialist, are equipped to handle persistent clogs and any drainage issues, ensuring a smooth water flow.

News & Information

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