How to figure out if a pipe is blocked

21 October 2021

Do you think a pipe in your house or apartment is blocked? Depending on the room it’s in, the reasons it’s blocked—and the consequences—can be different. Read on to understand how pipes get blocked and what the warning signs are.

How does a pipe get blocked?

There are a number of reasons why a pipe can get blocked. The most obvious is the presence of an object or buildup of material deposited by accident or through negligence, such as when a child throws a toy into the toilet or food goes down the sink drain when dishes are washed.

Pipe blocked by buildup

A pipe can get clogged up when the minerals in the water build up along the pipe walls. Hair, fats and food can then stick to them and eventually partially or fully obstruct the water flow. That is what will block the pipe.

Pipes blocked by roots

Sometimes pipes get blocked when plant roots slip into the pipe through cracks and continue growing inside. Roots will obstruct materials and create a blockage. Note that there doesn’t have to be a tree close by for there to be roots in the ground.

Warning signs of a blocked pipe

There are several signs that your pipes or drain may be blocked:

  • Water drains slowly from the shower, sink or toilet
  • Water comes out of the faucet in fits and starts
  • The water level in the toilet bowl changes or you notice bubbles when water isn’t running from a faucet
  • You hear whistling, raining or hammering sounds in the pipes
  • There are foul odours