Upon discovery of a blocked drain, many of us hit a wall. We frantically question: What’s the cause? Why now? What should I do? How soon will this be fixed? Amidst a flurry of thoughts and actions, small problems can turn into larger ones – or worse, ongoing ones.

This is why getting straight to the cause of a blocked drain is essential first off the bat, so resolution can be swiftly and smartly carried out. And, often enough, when it comes to blocked drains there are key tell-tale signs to look – and smell – for, and key preventative measures to bring onboard too.

So, when to start playing detective? If you have a blocked drain you might:

Hear:
• Gurgling arising from the kitchen sink, toilets or basins as water struggles to drain away.
Smell:
• Foul whiffs and odours oozing out of toilets, sinks and basins as a result of trapped waste decomposing behind blockages and water becoming stagnant.
See:
• Water slowing draining down sinks and toilets because of a blockage down the line.
• If you have a septic tank, you might spot slumped areas in your lawn.
Why act quickly? If foul smells and slow water isn’t enough to convince you to pick up the phone and call a professional, potential raw sewage and unsanitary water overflowing into your backyard should be. Not to mention costly bills that can climb steeper and steeper as drain issues become more and more serious – and long-term.

More often than not, catching a blocked drain in the bud isn’t overly time consuming or money hungry. As plumbing professionals, we remedy blocked drains across the board – residential and commercial – using specific tools designed to rectify specific problems.

How do we treat the cause?

• For blockages in sinks, toilets, tubs and showers we can use hand tools and plungers to remove/unhinge the blockage.
• For stubborn blockages – i.e. those that have moved into pipes running under the floor – we can pressurise waste pipes.
• For blockages in outside drain pipes, we use a specialist drain machine which propels a steel rod through the drain. The rod comes affixed with certain attachments which work to clear the drain of specific blockages. For example, if your drain is blocked with tree roots, we can apply the cutter attachment to clear the line.
• For sewer drain blockages – which can be more difficult to deal with – we work with clients to discuss the best options for access and accuracy, to minimise time, money spent and stress on those effected.
Whilst blocked drains aren’t ideal, most people will experience an ‘icky’ drain situation at some point in life. But you can take measures to minimise the effects and extensiveness if a drain blockage happens to you.

Here are a few daily tips to keep up your sleeve – not throw down the drain:

• Instead of emptying your coffee grinds into the sink – these can build up like concrete – tip them into the compost instead.
• When tree planting outside, reference your property site map first to see where your drains lie – then avoid planting on or too close to them.
• If you have shower waste you can pull up and remove with ease, try cleaning it weekly to rid it of hair – lumps can form a plug over time.
• Try not to flush any type of sanitary product down the toilet – nappies, pads, tampons and wet wipes – these are all leading causes of blocked drains.

With warmer months arriving and a spring in our step, many Kiwis take closer inspection of home matters and get stuck into renovations and repairs – they don’t call it the Silly Season for nothing!

However, if you’re in the throws of a bathroom demo or about to begin – complete with new tap and bathroom wares – or you’re planning on entertaining a house full of guests these summer holidays. Now’s the best time to think about what lies behind your wall or in the ceiling – before you take hand to hammer.

A hot water cylinder upgrade from low to mains pressure serves multiple purposes. Not only will your fancy new tapware work more efficiently, it’ll reduce water usage, provide instant flow of hot water – no waiting around in the cold – and water will be distributed throughout the entire house at the same pressure – you can put the washing on and have a shower at the same time. Bliss!

So, how do you know if you need an upgrade? Here are a few clues:

  • Many older New Zealand homes – 20 years plus – will still have original low pressure hot water cylinders.
  • Low pressure cylinders typically produce poor or weaker water flow – it takes ages to fill the bath.
  • Low pressure cylinders aren’t designed to spread the water around evenly – notice how the water goes cold in the shower when someone turns the kitchen tap on!
  • Take a look on the roof, a vent sticking out from the roof can indicate a low pressure cylinder.
  • No labelling on the actual cylinder is also a sure sign you’re operating on low. A mains pressure cylinder will typically have ‘Mains Pressure’ labelled on the outside.
  • Many people worry about the costs involved with upgrading to mains pressure, however the long-term savings and benefits – great for any future resale – should be enough to convince you. And, the changeover process is relatively straightforward – for the majority of jobs, we’re talking in and out in a day.
  • Cost estimates sit around $2,900 – $3,500 – which includes the cylinder, valves, safe tray, seismic restraint kit and includes the all-important tempering valve which is needed to comply with NZ plumbing standards.

Our Lower Hutt plumbers will:

  • Assess the location of your current cylinder and ensure all access and space is available for your new mains system. If additional building services are required, we can help arrange for these.
  • Once the all clear is sounded, we’ll disconnect and remove the old low pressure cylinder, pipes, valves and fixings.
  • Install new pipework – mains pressure systems require less space as their pipework diameters are much smaller than low pressure systems.
  • Install your new cylinder and all valves and fixings. Your cylinder will typically be a 180L or higher.
  • Check to ensure the pressure in the cylinder is set between 300-500 KPa.
  • Test your bath, kitchen and shower tapware to ensure all are fully functioning.
  • We’ll also remove all rubbish from site.
  • Don’t get caught in the cold, or stung with hefty water and power bills – pencil in that upgrade and contact Complete Plumbing Solutions. We can come to you in Lower Hutt, Upper Hutt and in the Wider Wellington region.