Clogged pipes - danger to house and garden

A clogged pipe is not only annoying and emits an unpleasant smell, it can also pose a risk to your entire home. Heavily clogged pipes can leak or even break at the affected area.

Inform landlord and building insurance

If you live as a tenant in a property, you should always inform the landlord quickly in the event of severe pipe clogging. Most of the time, this person will take care of the further measures anyway and will also pay.

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The building insurance may also have to be informed as a precaution. This is especially true if the pipe blockage can also result from a break in the pipe. The clerk then specifies the further procedure, which you should adhere to as much as possible.

Root cause research

The reasons for a pipe blockage can be many. Limescale residues or dirt as well as grease or hair plugs can collect and deposit in the pipe. Usually the cause of a pipe blockage has been accumulating in the pipe for years.

Moisture measurement

By measuring the humidity at various points where a pipe runs along, you can see whether there is already a broken pipe behind the alleged blockage.

Even a broken pipe, which is still at a very early stage, can already be determined with the moisture measurement. Even very small changes and a very small increase in moisture can be measured.

This makes the moisture measurement ideal for combating and locating a burst pipe after a pipe blockage. However, it should be known exactly where the pipes run so that the measurement can be meaningful.

Camera use

Above all, the severity of the blockage can be determined very well with a small inspection camera. If you know exactly how the pipes run, you can also very easily find the exact point of the blockage using the unrolled length of the hose.

If the course of the drainage pipes is not known, further location measures will be necessary.

Listening method

Professionals in the sewer cleaning trade use the listening method with a highly sensitive microphone. This special microphone can hear even the slightest noise. In this way, not only can the location of a blockage in the pipe be located, a possible break can also be identified as well as a tiny leak.

Problems with this listening method are pipes whose course is not known. While in newer houses the pipe system runs very clearly and in a straight line, in an old house the drain can also run criss-cross under the building.

However, since the water around pipe blockages sounds different when it flows slower or faster, the listening technique is well suited to locating both a break and a blockage.

Thermographic measurement

The last resort, so to speak, if the other options have failed, can be thermal measurement. It can show where the water is still flowing.

The floor is scanned with a thermal imaging camera and the smallest holes or blockages are uncovered. The great advantage over the listening method or the moisture measurement is that a pipe that is running off the path can also be detected.

Elimination of the pipe blockage

A real clogged pipe is usually not as easy to clear as a clogged drain. In most cases, it will be necessary to use a pipe cleaning professional. So you are on the safe side in terms of insurance too.

Especially with a stuck blockage in the pipe, you can easily cause more damage yourself. This can even lead to problems with the insurance company later in the event of a pipe burst. This will claim that the pipe rupture was caused by the cleaning attempts themselves.

If you want a professional to fix the blockage, you should get several offers if possible or hire a trusted and proven company. Because it is difficult to estimate the costs yourself and you have to trust that the bill will be fair later.

Gentle methods

If the pipe is really clogged, the gentle methods like small home remedies and chemical cleaners will rarely be able to do anything. You can try to free the pipe with baking powder and vinegar. Unfortunately, if the blockage is further away from the drain, the effect will fizzle out.

Suction cup or plunger

With a plunger, also known as a suction cup, a stuck blockage that sits deep in the pipe cannot be removed. But that doesn't mean you shouldn't try. After all, this is an almost free method if you have a plunger in the house.

To do this, try to select the drain in the house that is closest to the blockage. If it is a sink, you should plug the overflow.

If there are floor drains in the vicinity, for example from floor-level showers, you should also carefully seal them so as not to have all the unpleasant and smelly water build-up in the room.

Spindle and pressure washer

If the blockage is not too massive, you can remove it yourself with a spindle or with a high-pressure cleaner that has a similar attachment. Both can cause a lot of dirt under certain circumstances, but are cheap and effective.

These two variants are also used by professionals. So if you don't have a high-pressure cleaner, it's definitely not worth buying because of a clogged pipe. In many cases, however, equipment can also be borrowed from hardware stores.

Open pipes

In theory, every drain pipe outside the house should have one or more inspection openings. If the affected pipe can be opened outside of the house, it is often easier to reach the clogged area with a spindle.

However, you shouldn't approach a blockage from the outside with a high-pressure cleaner. Note that then the whole matter would be pushed into the house.

If there are no inspection openings, the pipe may have to be sawed open and later repaired at this point after cleaning. Even if that sounds nonsensical, this method is still preferable to a burst pipe that cannot be controlled.

Repair in the event of pipe damage or pipe breakage

If the pipe is damaged during cleaning, it should be replaced before it breaks. Finally, you can then determine the exact point when and where you have to break the pipe.

A spontaneous burst pipe, on the other hand, can be found in the worst case under the living room with the expensive wooden parquet or under the kitchen, which may be newly laid out with precious granite.

Let the inner tube retract

A few pipe and sewer cleaning companies specialize in a particular method of repair. Here, a movable pipe liner is pulled to the defective point and glued there. This is done using a special adhesive that can be precisely controlled with regard to the moment when it sticks.

Unfortunately, the method is not suitable for every broken pipe or pipe and is not offered everywhere. However, since the floor does not have to be pitched or this opening can be outside the house, the method is of course on the rise.

Notify insurance

As soon as you have the feeling that it is not a simple blockage in the drainpipe, it is important to notify the insurance company. Especially if a moisture measurement has already reported the first unpleasant truths.

It is pleasing, however, that the insurance company is also interested in limiting the damage. Therefore, it usually takes on the exact location of the leak as well as the repair.

Tips & Tricks It is imperative that you have a pipe blockage cleared before it becomes a broken pipe. While the costs can be significant, the alternatives would be even more significant.In addition, the insurance companies are out to hold someone else responsible for damage. So don't give them this opportunity and act quickly and correctly.