What's the problem?

Last reviewed:

There’s a nasty smell coming from the bathroom. You open the door and something unimaginable greets you. While you were out, your toilet has revolted.

When pipes are blocked, this offensive result hits home. Your home. But you can do something to make it less likely to happen to you.

The biggest reason our network of sewer pipes fail is because they are blocked with things that simply shouldn’t be there.

Fat, wet wipes and feminine hygiene products are the biggest cause of the 85,000 blockages we have to clear every year. When one of these blockages causes a flood in your home, you’ll have a stinking mess to clear up and a potentially steep bill from your plumber.

Every seven and a half minutes we clear a blocked pipe. The grief and damage caused by them reaches into homes and the environment. Inevitably waterways and surrounding areas also suffer, as do the plants, birds and wildlife habitats.

What causes blockages?

Everything that goes down the loo and the kitchen sink eventually meets up in the sewage pipes under your home. And if the wrong things get together down there, they have the potential to cause a lot of trouble.

Most household pipes are only 10cm wide – that’s only a little larger than the width of a baked bean tin. It’s a narrow passage that doesn’t take long to clog up.

When fat and oil cool down, they become a gooey glue that hardens on the insides of the pipes. No amount of washing up liquid or hot water will shift them. They hang on. So imagine adding wet wipes and cotton pads to the recipe.

It only takes a little fat mixed with some wet wipes to start blocking your pipes. The fatty lining of the pipe just gets bigger and thicker. Feminine hygiene products and wipes - which don’t break down in the way toilet paper does – join the mix and cling to the sticky lining.

Before long, the pipe is so narrow that wastewater can’t get through. This is when the unimaginable happens and the pressure behind the build-up forces this foul mixture back up where it came from: your home.