Help & Advice

Signs of a Blocked Drain

A blocked drain can be very stressful to deal with and may result in some foul smells and unwanted costs. If you have a blocked toilet drain, this can be extremely inconvenient for the entire family, which is why it is important to identify drain blockages early to prevent further damage to the pipework and other areas of the drain.

The faster you can detect a problem with your drain, the better. If you believe your drain may be becoming blocked, it’s essential to diagnose the problem and get it fixed as soon as possible.

Here, we have compiled a list of the most common signs of a blocked drain, to ensure you are able to spot these problems as soon as they occur.

What are the signs of a blocked drain?

Before we go into more detail about some of the issues that might arise in your home when there is a drain blockage, we have put together a handy list of the first things to look for.

Bad Smell – can you smell an eggy odor?
Slow drainage – are sinks and baths taking longer than usual to empty?
Slow flush – is your toilet flushing at a slower rate than usual?
Resurfacing water – is waste water coming back up through drainage points, such as the sink or toilet?

What does a blocked drain look like?

One of the most obvious signs of a blocked drain is if you can see that your sink, toilet, bath or shower are draining slowly. If the blockage is particularly bad, then the water may not drain away at all.

If just one of these fixtures is experiencing issues, the blockage is probably localised to a pipe connected to that specific appliance. However, if all fixtures appear to be backed up, the blockage is most likely somewhere in the sewer drain.

The toilet can provide a good idea of the extent of the problem. If you flush the toilet and it causes the water to rise in the shower, or if running the taps causes the water in your toilet to rise, then the problem is definitely a blocked drain.

If any water-based appliances are causing water to appear anywhere else when used, this may also be an indication of a blocked drain. With this in mind, it’s a good idea to check the external drains and manhole covers on your property for any signs of rising water. However, be sure to always only do this from the outside, as entering manholes can be highly dangerous due to the risk of bacteria and hazardous gases.

What does a blocked drain smell like?

If some foul smells are coming from your water fixtures, this is a dead giveaway of a blockage. Any unusual smells that come from the sink, bath, shower or toilet are usually the most obvious indicators of an underlying problem. If something has clogged the drain and is starting to rot, you’ll certainly know about it.

Most of us are familiar with the eggy smell of drainage issue. Because blockages at home are often caused by a build up of food waste, bodily waste like hair and other dirt. These product can buildup and become a breeding ground for bacteria. This bacteria then produces hydrogen sulfide and this is where the sulfuric ‘eggy’ smell comes from.

Much of the time, bad smells will arise before any visual symptoms emerge. With this in mind, it’s vital not to ignore any unusual odours around the home that can’t be readily identified.

For more information on this topic, take a look at our guide explaining why you may have unusual odours coming from your sink, and our guide on how to stop your drain from smelling.

What does a blocked drain sound like?

Finally, if your pipes and fixtures are producing unusual sounds, this could be another indication of a blockage. Gurgling sounds from your plug holes, drains or pipes are usually early warning signs. Also, if your toilet flush makes a different sound to usual, this is another indicator of a blocked drain.

Unusual sounds from your drains usually occur when air is trapped in the pipes by the blockage, and this air gets pushed through the system or is displaced.

What can I do If I have a blocked drain?

If you notice any signs of a blocked drain listed above, it could be an indicator that you need to get the problem fixed immediately.

The first thing you need to do is determine who is responsible for dealing with the blockage. As a general rule, you are only responsible for the parts of the system that sit within the boundaries of your home and are used only by your house – you can find out more about this by consulting our guide.


Who’s responsible for a blocked drain?

If a blockage is situated within your property’s drainage system, then it is your responsibility to deal with it and get it fixed. However, if only part of the system is within the boundaries of your property and other parts are shared with neighbouring properties, then the local water and sewage company is responsible.

Who to contact about a blocked drain

Once you know whether you’re responsible for sorting out the problem, you can then move on to getting it fixed. If the blockage is located somewhere off-site, then you should report the matter to the relevant utilities company and wait for them to come out and fix it. It is often worthwhile to call a professional, as it will be difficult to determine the location of the blockage and assign responsibility for repairing it without assistance.

If you are equipped and experienced enough to attempt to unblock the drain yourself, you can find out more about how to do so here. However, if you would rather speak to a professional about your drain blockage, you can call our nationwide team at Lanes 24/7, 365 on 0800 526 488, and we’ll do everything we can to find the best solution to your drain problem.

Alternatively, you can fill out our contact form, and a member of the team will get back to you promptly. Provide us with a few details to give us a better idea of your problem, and we’ll call you back as soon as we can.

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