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Woollahra Council trees are blocking my drains

Many of the blocked drains we attend are caused by the trees that line the streets managed by Woollahra Council.
At street level, the trees’ canopy brings summer shade and all kinds of birdlife.
Contrary to belief, tree roots don’t go in search of water. They are stimulated as moisture levels, and the surrounding soil temperature reaches a point that is appealing to them.

Sydney suburbs managed by Woollahra Council
Bellevue Hill, Darling Point, Double Bay, Edgecliff, Paddington, Point Piper, Rose Bay, Vaucluse

In most circumstances, the tree roots enter and damage the sewer drains and stormwater pipes that take wastewater off your property through leaking pipe joints.
Many homeowners hold Woollahra Council responsible for their blockage and expect they will clear their blocked drains for free because the Council own the trees.

Well, in some cases they do!
But, Woollahra Council gets their income from you the ratepayer, and as you would expect, they have guidelines for spending ratepayers money to fix your blocked drains.
If you live in one of the suburbs managed by Woollahra Council
Click here to see the Woollahra Council Wastewater Policy.

The top points are that you the homeowner

Must have a sewer service diagram for your home
Must maintain your sewer pipes.
Must prevent sewer blockages
Must prevent sewerage from escaping into the environment
May be entitled to the Council plumber clearing your blocked drain.

What if Waverley Council trees cause my Blocked Drain?

Did you know 85% of blocked drains are caused by tree roots?

Quite often the roots come from trees that line the streets in Waverley Council’s jurisdiction.

They can block drains and sometimes damage the sewer and stormwater pipes that take wastewater off your property.
Many homeowners hold Waverley Council responsible for their blockage and expect they will clear their blocked drains for free because they own the trees.

Well in some cases they do!
But, Waverley Council gets their income from you the ratepayer and as you would expect, they have guidelines for spending ratepayers money to fix your blocked drains.
If you have a Blocked drain and live in one of these suburbs managed by Waverley Council including Bondi, Bondi Beach, Bondi Junction, Bronte, Charing Cross, Clovelly, Dover Heights, North Bondi, Queens Park and Waverley
Click here to see the Waverley Council Sewerage Stormwater Drain Blockage Policy.

The top points are that you the homeowner

Must have a sewer service diagram for your building
Must maintain your sewer pipes.
Must prevent sewer blockages
Must prevent sewerage from escaping into the environment
May be entitled to the Council plumber clearing your blocked drain.

Randwick Council trees are responsible for my Blocked Drain?

Blocked drains are a large part of our workday, every day! And 85% of blocked drains are caused by tree roots. Our home is Coogee Randwick, in the eastern suburbs of Sydney Australia.

Tree-lined streets in Randwick Council are the reason for a lot of the blocked drains we go to.
They damage the sewer drains and stormwater pipes that take wastewater off your property.

Many homeowners hold the council responsible for their blockage and have expectations that the council will clear their blocked drains for free because they own the trees.

Well in some cases they do

But, Randwick Council gets their income from you the ratepayer and as you’d expect they have guidelines for spending ratepayers money to fix your blocked drains.
If you live in one of these Sydney suburbs managed by Randwick Council including Centennial Park, Chifley, Coogee, Kensington, Kingsford, Little Bay, Malabar, Maroubra, Matraville, Pagewood, Phillip Bay, Port Botany and Randwick
Click here to see Randwick Council Sewerage Stormwater Drain Blockage Policy.

The top points are that you the homeowner

  • Must have a sewer service diagram for your home
  • Must maintain your sewer pipes.
  • Must prevent sewer blockages
  • Must prevent sewerage from escaping into the environment
  • May be entitled to the Council plumber clearing your blocked drain

Flushable wipes block drains

As you know, up to 85% of blocked drains are caused by tree roots and can be easily managed.

But, there is a growing number of blocked drains that are caused by “hygienic wipes”. Hygienic wipes block up house drains and sewer mains that cost homeowners and Sydney Water a fortune to maintain. So be careful what you flush!

Simply, hygienic wipes don’t break down like toilet paper and as many household pipelines have imperfections, the wipes get caught and cause a blocked drain.

If you are polishing your bottom….. and flushing more wipes, you could be in trouble.

This Choice magazine Youtube video shows how wipes don’t break down for up to 21 hours.

Don’t do this in the bathroom!

During our Coronavirus work schedule,
I’ve found some fun hints and tips about plumbing and health that are worth sharing.
How germs spread

  • on your toothbrush,
  • your toilet seat
  • and the toilet flush button are just a few examples.

Cow gets stuck in sewer manhole

During a long career of blocked drains we have seen some unusual things in the sewer, and this is one of them.
This 1:53sec YouTube clip shows a team of Chinese firefighters, police and vets rescue a cow that has fallen down a sewer maintenance hole.
The pregnant cow looks pretty uncomfortable as she is winched out of the manhole.
But she ambles off into the night with her grateful owner as if nothing has happened.

Toilet paper is no longer a hot ticket. Guess what is?

The stampede on toilet paper has slowed for now
But, I overheard an 18 year old chemist assistant telling her mum about the latest hot items running out the door of her pharmacy during the lockdown over the last 4 weeks that is worth sharing.

She rattled off a list of items and her thoughts on why.

With respect to brand names…
Armaforce – General health
Panadol – Just in case they get the virus
Thermometers – 36.3 is normal body temperature
Lemsip – To keep colds away
Betadine – I don’t know why
Voltaren – Over training by the work from home crew
Thrush cream – They’re all wearing leggings and have thrush. Bad idea
Pregnancy test kits – There will be a baby boom early 2021
Nail polish – They can’t go anywhere

Why you need a sewer diagram

As a plumbing professional, one of the handiest tools we can have is a sewer service diagram.
It’s a map of where the pipes run within your home.
It’s easily obtainable, and you can get it from Sydney Water, reputable plumbing suppliers and, even your local plumber can get it for you.
It’s simply an A4 sheet.
It has an outline of your home, your property.
It shows where all the pipes run within your home and how they connect to the sewer.
It will make it easier for your plumber to get into your sewer pipes to clear your blockage.
And
If you are planning a preventative maintenance program, it shows points of access where we can get into your pipes with a minimum of fuss.
In the long term it will save you money.
So if you have repeat problems with your sewer pipes, get a sewer diagram and keep it handy.

Tree roots don’t know about Coronavirus

Sydney April 14th 2020
Easter is over for another year.
Although our towns are slowing because of the Coronavirus, and we are quickly changing our daily home and work habits,
Here at The Lone Drainer and Pronto, we are still working away.
Mostly blocked drains!
Working from home is putting our normal facilities under a little more pressure.
That means the internet, the exercise areas and our bathrooms.
With all that extra baking and comfort meals, our sewers are under a more significant workload.
Tree roots don’t know about Coronavirus, and still seek food and water in the sewer pipes they can grow into.
So, if you hear your drains gurgling don’t ignore them.
They are asking for help.

Dormant, but active underground

Be careful what you flush down the toilet!

Sydney March 31st 2020
As we work through COVID-19, our work, social distance, hygiene and consumption habits are being challenged daily.
The run on toilet paper in our supermarkets has left me bewildered.
I had to see it for my own eyes. And did!
The take away for me is that those who couldn’t purchase their normal supply have resorted to buying and using baby wipes, paper towels and facial tissues.
Please remember they’re not for flushing down the toilet because they don’t break down and can block your drains!

If you’re desperate for toilet paper we have a few boxes at our Coogee office.

Why have a Drainoscopy?

Today our post is simple.

A client called from Bronte.

Since Christmas they’d had 3 blocked drains causing the downstairs toilet to overflow. Yuck!

The plumber they had been using didn’t have a drain camera and it was suggested that the pipes were broken.

We were able to clear the blockage quickly, then, give the pipes a Drainoscopy.

That’s Lone Drainer speak for “put a specialised drain camera in the pipes and see what is really going on”.

The pipe was full of tree roots. That’s all!

We cut out the roots and had another look.

A simple Vaporooter treatment will keep the roots away. With a Guarantee!

Yes, the pipes are old clay pipes. You can see where the roots have been cut out. But, they work and will for some time to come.

The best way to find out is to see it for yourself.

Storms bring blocked drains

The well-needed rain that arrived in Sydney over the last few days has created many blocked drains and grates that can easily be fixed.

Take the opportunity in between showers to check any pits or drains around your home that may be blocked by leaf debris or dirt.
Put on your gardening or washing up gloves and you can clean them out, it may save you from some unexpected flooding.
The blocked drain shown here was covered by leaves and gum nuts blown off in the storm. It wasn’t able to cope with the deluge of water.
The garage was flooded.

If your roof gutters are full and overflowing, it may be leaf debris and twigs or even a tennis ball from the summer back yard cricket series blocking the gutter outlets.
If you choose to put a ladder upto the roof gutters to have a look, Please be very careful.
Take care climbing on your roof.
It may be very slippery!

The Lone Drainer Recipe collection

The Lone Drainer Recipe Collection

It’s the second month of the New Year and we’re all still full of good intentions.
I, The Lone Drainer, the fastest plumber in the Eastern suburbs, hereby announce my New Years Resolution: I will become a better cook. I am committing in print in the hope that my public announcement will help me stick to the program.

Here’s how it will work:

Every week, I will publish a new recipe, fully tried and tested in The Lone Drainer Coogee kitchen and stomach. I’m aiming for easy, fast and not too many ingredients. And something that won’t make me fat. I want to be a fit, healthy fifty year old. (Ed: who are you kidding Dave? Rumour has it you’re closer to sixty already!)

It won’t always be a recipe, sometimes it will just be a meal idea, suitable for a man to make. (OK, sexist, I know. I’ll rephrase that. What I mean is suitable for me, a mere male without a lot of cooking skills, but certainly a man who likes to eat well)

Here is No 1 Recipe, a sample of my easy- after- a -hard –days- work –plumbing meal idea:

Go to the supermarket.
Buy a bag of mixed salad leaves, a bottle of bread and butter pickles, and a piece of salmon.
Put two potatoes and two carrots on to boil.(Good plumbers need carbs. We work hard and burn a lot of energy)
Spread the salad leaves on a plate. Pour a tablespoon of olive oil on the leaves. (uncooked olive oil is good for keeping cholesterol down)

BBQ the salmon. Or cook it on a heavy cast iron frypan. Six and two minutes on a gas stove

Put the salmon on top of the leaves. Put the now cooked potatoes and carrots next to the salmon on the plate . Add a couple of dill pickles. There is dinner. Four vegetables, fish for protein and a few carbs for energy. Twenty minutes tops.

Read our blog. Cook my food. Admire our plumbing.

Who is responsible for my sewer pipes?

Did you know homeowners are responsible for their sewer pipes up to and including where they meet the Sydney Water sewer mains?

A lot of people are shocked to find out this piece of information.

If you need to renew your sewer pipe line because it has been damaged by tree roots and the pipes run out in the middle the road, then, the homeowner is responsible for all the costs of the renewal, including Council road opening fees.

How do tree roots get into pipes? #2

In my last post I described how tree roots can easily travel through the soil loosened by excavation for your pipe installation.

Do you know why tree roots grow in sewer pipes from the top of the pipe joints?

Condensation is formed when we run water from our water pipes, through our drains.

Especially when we have a hot shower, wash our clothes or dishes in hot or warm water.
When the warm water enters the drains buried in the cold earth, condensation is formed, and it gathers on the inside top of our sewer pipes and drains.

The tree roots moving through our already loosened soils can now move along the top of the pipelines and are attracted to the warmth and moisture inside.
All they need now is a way into the pipe.

This 1.58sec clip shows how.

How do tree roots get into pipes?

Tree roots grow through trenches dug for plumbing pipes.

When plumbers excavate a trench in virgin soil to lay our pipelines to take the waste water from your home, we till the soil.

The simple method of excavating the soil with a shovel or even a mechanical excavator like a backhoe actually breaks up the soil.

See the tree in our attached pic?

Its root system will be able to grow through the trench looking for weakness in the pipe line.

After we complete our excavations and lay the pipes in the trenches, we back fill the trench, putting the excavated soils back.

Sometimes we water in the soil and quite often use a compactor to help with the back fill process.

Excavations are often back filled with an aggregate like blue metal gravel.

The back filled trench is never as compact as the virgin soil.

It provides the roots of nearby trees a much easier path to “wander” along in their search for water and nutrients.

Do tree roots grow in PVC pipes?

Do tree roots grow in PVC pipe?
Yes they do!
The PVC pipe shown here in this Youtube clip has tree roots growing in through the wall of the pipe in three different places.
There is a significant Norfolk pine tree and a Paperbark tree within two-three metres of the pipe.
The roots were cut from this pipeline about 8 weeks ago.
This survey was taken before applying Vaporooter to the pipe line.
Vaporooter will NOT fix a broken pipe.
Vaporooter stops tree roots in drains!
In this case, we are only keeping the roots at bay until the necessary repairs are undertaken.

Use Toilet Paper not Tissues

Tristan from The Lone Drainer And Pronto gives a simple demonstration as to why you should use toilet paper rather than facial tissues in the bathroom.

Toilet paper breaks down when it gets into water, whereas facial tissues bind together rather than falling apart.

Beware, facial tissues can cause a costly blocked drain.
Use toilet paper, not tissues.

Poo News

Our readers are still the best source of fun, information, insights and images from the wonderful world of plumbing
I’ve heard plenty of explanations of the word Poo.
I hadn’t heard this one.

Toilet won’t flush properly #1

“My toilet won’t flush properly” is a common cry for help in our emergency plumbing business.
We then ask, Do you mean the dirty water won’t flush away?
If the answer is yes and it looks like this,
then you have a blocked drain and you need a blocked drain expert quickly

However, if you press the Full and Half flush buttons and they don’t effectively clear the toilet bowl,
That is, their isn’t enough water in the toilet cistern to do the job
or
The buttons just don’t work
or
the cistern just won’t refill or it’s slow to fill
Then
I know how to fix the toilet that won’t flush properly.

I don’t like cricket..I love it.

January 6th 2017 sees the rain tumbling down in Sydney’s eastern suburbs.

Day 4 of the New Years 3rd cricket test between Australia and Pakistan is delayed because of the heavy rain.

The gutters and drains around our home and office are full of leaf debris and could cause flooding for anyone who isn’t vigilant

Take a tip

  • Check your storm water drains and down pipes are free of debris before you go to the cricket.

Why you should look inside your pipes.

You’ve got a blocked drain and your plumber puts a camera in the drain to see whats going on down there!

What happens after that?

Plenty of homeowners don’t get to see the footage their plumber has taken of the inside of their pipes.
For some reason, the plumber chooses to keep what is going on in your pipes a secret from you.

Why?

Like any medical scan or x-ray of your body, it shouldn’t be kept a secret from you.

You should be able to see whats going on in your drains so you can get a greater understanding of how the drains work. Or don’t!

Then, you can make an informed decision about how to repair your pipes and get other professional opinions on how to do that.

There are many ways to maintain your pipes and drains.

So if your plumber recommends a particular method of pipe repair after he puts a camera in your drains then tells you what he saw… but doesn’t show you

Ask him for a copy of the pipe survey.

After all, he has billed you for it.

This survey shows a section of re-lined pipe with earthenware pipes and tree roots.

Home Buyers Beware of non-compliant plumbing

Home buyers beware.

For us, the heat in the real estate market is reflected in the lack of due diligence by potential home buyers prior to purchasing properties in our suburban real estate grab.

Yesterday we helped a young couple who just bought their first home in the Ryde district.
house sold
They had bought a house that had the bathroom toilet illegally connected to the surcharge gully which was outside the bathroom and near their front door. The gully had a deck built over the top of it to make the front of the house more appealing.

Every time the toilet was flushed the discharge spilled into the gully underneath the deck. Yuk!

After living in the house for only three weeks they started to question the blocked drain symptoms displayed by the toilet. There was also some doubt about the sewerage smell at the front door.

Apparently the young owners had undertaken a pre-purchase building inspection. Somehow the building inspector did not pick up this illegal plumbing connection.
Blocked WC
The only advice I can give you is that if you have a friend that’s a plumber don’t get him to look at the property before purchase.

Instead, get a plumber who has plenty of experience in looking at domestic homes, who has an eye for the unusual and is prepared to look a little harder than just scratching the surface.

Any rectification work to the problem we have just uncovered will be expensive. In the $3000-$5000 range.

That is not what these new eager homeowners were expecting.

Sewer overflow makes Coogee a “smelly place”

Coogee means “smelly place” and yesterday the beautiful beach, just 500 metres from our HQ lived up to the name given it by indigenous Australians. The smell and subsequent beach closure was brought about by a Sydney Water  blocked sewer main in nearby Dudley Street.

The overflowing sewer main spilled into the storm water system which then discharged into the surf just near the Coogee Surf Club. Randwick City Council closed the beach and drained the Ross Jones pool that sits adjacent to the surf club and the storm water discharge.

Sydney Water maintenance crews cleared a blockage in the sewer main that was caused by tree roots.
The tree root blockage and sewer overflow was completely preventable. The beach has been re-opened today.

Clipping from Sydney’s Daily Telegraph:
2016 04 14 Cooge sewer spill Daily Telegraph article

See your blocked drain with a Drainoscopy

Today our post is simple.

A new client from Bronte called because since Christmas they’d had 3 blocked drains causing the downstairs toilet to overflow throughout their basement. YUK!

The plumber they had been using didn’t have a drain camera and it was suggested that the pipes were broken.

We were able to clear the blockage quickly, then, give the pipes a Drainoscopy. That’s Lone Drainer speak for “put a specialised drain camera in the pipes and see what is really going on”.

The pipe was full of tree roots. That’s all! We cut out the roots and had another look. A simple Vaporooter treatment will keep the roots away. With a Guarantee!

Yes, the pipes are old clay pipes. You can see where the roots have been cut out. But, they work and will for some time to come.

The best way to find out is to see it for yourself.