The dangers of blocked drains are a prevalent issue in Sydney, and they can present a range of health risks. In this article, we will explore the causes of blocked drains, the health risks associated with them, and proactive measures you can implement to prevent blocked drains and their associated hazards.

Causes of blocked drains

Blocked drains typically occur due to the gradual accumulation of various substances. Recognising the primary causes is crucial for effective resolution.

1.  A buildup of grease, hair, and debris – One of the primary culprits behind blocked drains is the accumulation of grease, hair, and other debris over time. When you wash dishes or take a shower, remnants of grease, soap scum, and hair can easily find their way into the drains. Over time, these substances stick to the inside of the pipes, creating a stubborn blockage.

To combat this issue, consider implementing good habits in your household. Avoid pouring grease and cooking oils down the sink, as they can solidify and constrict the pipes. Instead, gather grease in a container and dispose of it in the trash. Install strainers in your sinks and shower drains to catch hair and larger debris before they can enter the pipes.

2. Tree roots – In some cases, the intrusion of tree roots into underground sewer lines can lead to blocked drains. As trees seek out water sources, their roots can infiltrate cracks or joints in the pipes, causing blockages and damage. This issue can be particularly challenging to address as it often requires professional intervention.

To prevent tree roots from wreaking havoc on your drainage system, consider planting trees and shrubs away from your drains. Regularly inspect your yard for any signs of root intrusion, such as unusually lush patches of grass or slow-draining sinks. If you suspect tree roots are the cause of your blocked drains, consult with a professional plumber who can diagnose the issue and recommend appropriate solutions.

3. Foreign objects – It’s not uncommon for foreign objects to accidentally make their way into drains, causing blockages. Children’s toys, small household items, and even excessive toilet paper can clog pipes and prevent proper water flow.

To prevent this, educate your family members, especially children, about what should and should not be flushed or washed down the drains. Make sure your bathroom and kitchen are equipped with trash bins, so there’s no temptation to dispose of items in the toilet or sink. Regularly check for any loose objects that may have fallen into the sink or shower drain and remove them promptly.

4. Improper installation – Inadequate installation of drainage systems can also be a root cause of blockages. If pipes are not properly aligned or have incorrect gradients, they may not facilitate the smooth flow of wastewater, leading to blockages over time.

If you’re experiencing frequent drainage issues, it may be worth having your plumbing system inspected by a professional. They can identify any installation or structural problems and recommend appropriate repairs or upgrades.

The health risks of blocked drains

Clogged drains do more than just cause inconvenience; they can also give rise to a range of health hazards that Sydney residents should be aware of.

1. Release of harmful contaminants – When drains become blocked, the stagnant water can become a breeding ground for dangerous bacteria and other contaminants. These pathogens can find their way into the air and water, increasing the risk of various health problems.

2. Respiratory infections – The presence of bacteria and mould in blocked drains can lead to respiratory infections when inhaled. Symptoms may include coughing, wheezing, and difficulty breathing. Individuals with preexisting respiratory conditions, such as asthma, are particularly vulnerable.

To minimise the risk of respiratory issues, ensure that your bathroom and kitchen are well-ventilated. Use exhaust fans or open windows when cooking or showering to prevent moisture buildup, which can promote the growth of mould and bacteria.

3. Skin rashes – Blocked drains can result in skin problems. Exposure to contaminated water, even in small quantities, can trigger skin irritation, rashes, and allergic reactions. It’s essential to address these issues promptly to maintain a healthy environment.

To protect your skin, avoid standing in water that has backed up in sinks or showers. If you notice slow drainage, address the issue promptly to prevent water from pooling.

4. Food Poisoning – In some cases, blocked drains can compromise the cleanliness of kitchen areas. When contaminated water backs up into sinks or dishwashers, it can contaminate dishes and utensils, increasing the risk of food poisoning if not properly cleaned and sanitised.

To avoid this, regularly inspect your kitchen sink and dishwasher for any signs of blockages. Clean these appliances thoroughly to prevent contamination.

5. Pest Infestations – Blocked drains can create an ideal environment for pests like cockroaches and rats to thrive. These creatures not only pose a nuisance but can also carry diseases that can be transmitted to humans.

To deter pests, maintain a clean and hygienic environment in your home. Address any plumbing issues promptly to prevent the buildup of stagnant water that attracts pests. Consider hiring a pest control professional if you suspect an infestation.

How to prevent blocked drains

Averting blocked drains is the key to avoiding the health risks associated with them. Here are some proactive measures you can take to keep your drains clear and your home safe.

  1. Avoid pouring grease and oil down the drain – Grease and oil should never be disposed of in the sink. Instead, collect them in a container and dispose of them properly in the trash. Grease and oil can solidify in pipes, leading to blockages.
  2. Use a strainer to catch hair and debris – To prevent hair and debris from clogging your drains, contemplate fitting strainers in sinks and showers. These affordable devices excel at capturing undesired particles, significantly minimising the chances of drain blockages. Plus, they are effortless to install, making them a practical addition to your plumbing routine.
  3. Regular professional drain cleaning – Regular professional drain cleaning is a proactive step in blockage prevention. Skilled plumbers employ specialised tools to efficiently clear pipe buildup, ensuring small issues don’t escalate. This maintenance practice can help you avoid costly and disruptive plumbing emergencies in the long run.
  4. Plant trees away from drains – If you have trees on your property, be mindful of their proximity to drainage pipes. Planting trees too close to drains increases the risk of roots infiltrating the pipes. Consult with a landscaping expert to ensure proper tree placement.
  5. Be careful what you flush – Prevent toilet blockages by refraining from flushing foreign objects. Dispose of items like sanitary products, wet wipes, and paper towels in the trash, as they can readily cause blockages. Proper disposal not only prevents toilet issues but also helps in maintaining a clean and functional plumbing system, saving you from costly repairs in the long run.


Blocked drains may be a common issue, but they are not without consequences. By understanding the causes and health risks associated with blocked drains, Sydney residents can take proactive steps to maintain clear and healthy drainage systems. Preventing blockages through simple practices like proper disposal of grease, regular drain cleaning, and careful tree placement can go a long way in safeguarding both your plumbing and your health. Don’t wait until you’re facing a blocked drain emergency—take action now to ensure a healthier, more hygienic living environment for you and your family.