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I should have used Vaporooter years ago!

“Why didn’t I do this years ago!”

This exclamation was recently made by an old client with an investment property where tree root blockages in the sewer occur 3-4 times a year.

The block of 6 flats in inner Sydney has been plagued by sewer blockages caused by tree roots. Every time the tenants of the ground floor flats experienced a blockage, they would advise their landlord who would then call an emergency plumber.

The plumber was not familiar with Vaporooter! Every time he was called to the property for a blockage, he would remove the only toilet in the flat to get access to the sewer pipes in order to clear the tree root blockage. Most of the time the toilet had to be removed with a hammer and chisel as it was cemented to the bathroom floor. The china toilet was often broken when it was taken out, needing to be replaced. An extra cost!

When the toilet was re-cemented back to the floor, it meant the tenants could not ”sit” on the toilet until the cement set; sometimes this took up to 24 hours. Very inconvenient for the tenant!

The owner, in his wisdom asked us to  help him.

When we visited the site the first thing we asked for was a sewer diagram so we could see where all the sewer pipes ran according to the sewer authority. He had never been asked for the sewer diagram!

Once seeing the diagram, we suggested a simple excavation outside his bathroom toilet to provide a new access point to the sewer pipes. This meant anytime there is a blockage it could be accessed from outside, rather than taking out the toilet. Instant cost saving!

Our technician then suggested a “Drainoscopy” or sewer survey using a high tech drain camera to show the condition of the sewer pipes from the inside.  This had never been done before.

Whilst we carried out the Drainoscopy, we found even though the pipes had been “cleared” just weeks before, they were still full of tree roots. So we cut out the roots with our high pressure water drain cleaner and re-surveyed the pipes until all the roots were gone.

The drainoscopy shows exactly where the roots are in the pipeline so they can be totally removed. It then shows the pipe condition.

Please remember, Vaporooter will NOT repair a broken pipe!

In this case the pipes were OK! The repeat blockage was caused by tree roots growing through the pipe joints. They had now been totally removed. This had never been done before either.

This pipeline is now ready to apply Vaporooter! We’ll be back in 6 weeks.

As our client observed all of these procedures, he was amazed at what he saw in his underground sewer pipes, it prompted him to exclaim, “Why didn’t I do this years ago!”

Who is responsible for these drains?

Problems with drains, including blockages, occur no matter what type of building you live in.

Most single or multiple level houses have their own drainage systems taking the discharge from all the plumbing fixtures within the property. The owner of the  property is responsible for the maintenance and upkeep of their pipes up to the point where his pipes join the council main.

Rows of terrace houses in inner city suburbs and semi-detached homes often drain into a “common sewer line”. These terrace rows can have up to 20 homes or more, draining into one common line. Depending on the fall of the land, this common sewer line may pass across the front or rear of the row and then  spill into a Boundary trap, before discharging into the Water authority’s main sewer line.

Generally, the common sewer line should be maintained by the owners of the properties connected to the sewer line, and costs associated with works or repairs on this  common sewer line should be borne by all parties on that common sewer line.

If blockages, repairs or pipe renewals are confined to the pipes and drains that take the discharge from any one particular house on the common sewer line, then those costs should be borne by that individual.

Any property owners connected to a common sewer line should be aware that should a blockage occur in the common line, downstream of where he/she connects to the line, the sewer may surcharge or overflow in his/her yard or garden if it is the lowest open drain in the line.

This can be quite unpleasant if someone else’s sewer is coming up in your yard or even worse, your home!

When blockages occur, we recommend that all owners connected to a common sewer line communicate and co-operate with all other parties on this line .

Strata home unit blocks and Townhouses will have their own drainage lines that generally drain to a Boundary trap and then on to the Water Authority or Council sewer mains.

The responsibility for the maintenance and repairs of these drains is generally directed by a Strata Title Manager  and sometimes a Real Estate Property Manager.

Commercial properties, Industrial Estates and Schools generally all have their own  drainage lines that generally drain to a Boundary trap and then on to the Water Authority or Council sewer mains.

What is a blocked drain?

drain is an outlet where water can be piped away from a plumbing fixture like a toilet or WC, a basin, bath or shower, a kitchen sink, laundry tubs or an external drain, known as a gully.

Stormwater drains can take discharge from roofing guttering and pits and grates installed to take runoff  water collected from hard surfaces.

A blocked drain is usually referred to when waste water accumulates around any of the drains and can not be evacuated.

Most drains run to either sewer or stormwater mains that are assets of Water authorities, municipal councils and the cities and towns across the country

Most blockages are generally caused by tree roots, grease, hair, sanitary products, dirt and debris or a multitude of foreign items including broken pipes.

Blocked drains are the responsibility of the property owners.

This series of blog posts will be aimed at blocked drain basics.

We will discuss who owns the drains, how to maintain them, what you should and should not put in your drains and what to look out for if your drains are about to block up.

We will look inside pipes, show you a drainoscopy or pipe survey so you know what it’s like in the network of pipes under your homes and buildings.

I encourage your feedback, so please ask questions and we will answer them promptly!