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Blocked Drain Clearing Process

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Waste Blockage

Clearing Blocked Drains in Sydney

Sewer lines in Sydney can block up for many different reasons however we can put 90% of sewer pipe blockages into two groups.

  1. Waste blockage.

  2. Tree root blockage.

The remaining 10% of sewer pipe blockages are caused by either large foreign objects flushed down the sewer line becoming lodged, stuck or jammed inside the sewer pipe or a complete structural sewer pipe collapse.

Sewer blockages are also known as a "Wastewater Blockage" or "Sewer Choke".

Interesting fact: Clearing a blocked drain is not a plumbing repair, it is a high-pressure cleaning process.

Clearing A Sewer Line Waste Blockage

Provided your drains are in good working condition with no structural damage, defects, broken or cracked pipes you ​will not have any tree roots growing into your sewer pipes underground. This means the blockage will only consist of backed-up waste material inside your sewer line such as sewage, faeces, toilet paper, kitchen grease or food waste, sanitary or personal items, paper towels, solid laundry waste, wet wipes, or other small objects flushed down into your sewer system. Generally, this solid waste matter blocking the drain has simply accumulated inside the sewer pipe in one location, is not attached to anything is easy to clear and does not need high-pressure tree root cutting nozzles instead only requiring one or two passes with a water jet with high-pressure clearing and flushing nozzles to liquify and move the waste down the drain and a single CCTV drain camera inspection to confirm a clear drain and there are no other issues.

Waste blockages are a 3-step high-pressure water jet drain cleaning process.

  1. Assessment

  2. Water jet drain cleaning

  3. Drain camera inspection

Clearing A Sewer Line Tree Root Blockage

If your drains are damaged or defective in one way or another with cracked pipes, broken or damaged sections, misaligned pipes, displacements, or failed pipe joints you will more than likely have tree roots growing into your sewer pipes. It is possible to have damaged pipes without tree root intrusions causing sewer blockages which is treated as a waste blockage, however, if you have tree roots growing into your drains you will also have damaged or defective pipes as in this instance you cannot have one without the other. This means the blockage will consist of backed-up waste material and tree root intrusions causing the drain to stop flowing. Tree root blockages are different to waste blockages because the tree root intrusions inside the pipe are part of and attached to a much larger root system on the outside of the pipe and need to be inspected with a drain camera before, during, and after being cut back and removed using high-pressure root cutting nozzles. No one can see inside a blocked drain underground full of dirty, murky, cloudy wastewater so the backed-up wastewater will need to be cleared away first allowing for a visual inspection of the drain with a CCTV drain camera to assess the degree of tree root impact. The initial use of penetrating and flushing nozzles used to clear the backed-up wastewater also separates the matted tree roots creating a pathway for drain camera equipment and high-pressure root cutting nozzles. Unlike waste blockages that are simple and quick to clear and only block in one location, tree root blockages can range from being small and only affecting a single location to being multifaceted impacting a drainage line over many metres and numerous locations requiring multiple passes with both penetrating, flushing, and high-pressure root cutting nozzles and CCTV drain camera equipment to cut away and remove the tree root intrusions from each tree root entry point inside the drain.

Tree root blockages are a 4-step high-pressure water jet drain cleaning and tree root cutting process.

  1. Assessment

  2. Water jet drain cleaning

  3. Drain camera inspection

  4. High-pressure root cutting

Tree root intrusion into drains is the number one cause of drain blockages in Australia.

See us clearing tree root blockages on YouTube.

Clearing A Stormwater Drain Blockage

Drain cleaning processes for clearing blocked stormwater drains are similar to that of clearing blocked sewer lines with the difference being that stormwater waste is dirt, mud, sand, pebbles, rocks, leaves, sticks and other crazy foreign objects like hose nozzles and sprinkler heads, tennis balls, golf balls and small children's toys to name a few. Stormwater waste is hard, solid and extremely abrasive and more difficult and time consuming to remove from stormwater drains than sewer waste is from sewer lines and causes much greater wear and tear on water jetting and drain camera equipment than sewer waste which is only soft and gooey material. Stormwater drains can also be damaged or defective and impacted by tree root intrusions in exactly the same way sewer lines are.

Interesting fact: You cannot clear a drain blocked by tree roots in one process. Water jetting (drain clearing) and tree root removal (root cutting) are separate processes requiring different high-pressure jetting nozzles.

Regular Drain Servicing

Homeowners with tree root affected drains carrying out regular preventive drain maintenance to avoid blockages to keep their drains flowing only require a 2-step process (1. CCTV drain camera inspection and 2. high-pressure tree root cutting) because getting their drains serviced before they become blocked means they do not need water jetting to clear the drain of backed-up waste material and as the Plumber will have been there on previous service calls no assessment is required as he will already know everything about the homeowners drains and access to their drains underground should be easy. Regular drain servicing also means smaller and shorter root regrowth making the root cutting process much easier which means a quicker service at a lower cost. Regular drain servicing for tree root affected drains you do not want to permanently fix is a no brainer! You can see an example of one of our regular tree root cutting jobs to remove tree root regrowth for one of our existing customers. This sewer line requires servicing every 8 - 12 months to avoid blockages and we have been servicing this sewer line for many years.

Tree Root Blockage
Regular Drain Servicing
Assessing The Blocked Drain

Blocked Drain Clearing Process in Detail


Assessment Of the Blocked Drain

On arrival we will carry out an assessment of the blocked drain. 

  • Discuss the blocked drain symptoms and any history of drain blockages.

  • Visually inspect the blocked drain symptoms you are experiencing.

  • Determine the location of your sewer system on your property.

  • Locate where your sewer connects to the Sydney Water Sewer Main Line.

  • Estimate the location of the blockage within your sewer system.

  • Look for suitable cleanout access to your underground sewer line.

If suitable cleanout access to your drains underground is available, we will start the drain clearing work. If suitable cleanout access is not available or existing cleanout access is not suitable further work to access your drains underground may be required.



Clearing The Blocked Drain - Water Jetting

Once we have gained access to the underground sewer line, we will setup our high-pressure water jet and CCTV drain camera equipment at the point of entry into the sewer line and proceed to clear the blocked drain using high pressure penetrating and flushing nozzles to clear and flush away all backed-up waste material to allow for a CCTV drain camera inspection to confirm a clear drain.

How long this will take will depend on whether we are clearing one line or multiple lines, how many metres of drain we are servicing the design of the sewer system and whether we are dealing with a simple waste blockage, or a more complex tree root blockage.

Clearing The Blocked Drain


CCTV Drain Camera Inspection

After the drain has been cleared of all backed-up waste material, a CCTV drain camera inspection of the sewer line will be carried out to confirm the following.

If our CCTV drain inspection shows a clear drain with no tree root intrusions our work is finished. If your drain is affected by tree root intrusions, we will move onto step-4 below.

Clearing a waste blockage is a 3-step process.

Inspecting The Cleared Drain


Removing Tree Roots from Drains

If you have tree roots growing into your sewer line, once the blocked drain has been cleared of all backed-up waste material to allow for a visual inspection inside the drain, root cutting is performed by visually positioning a tree root cutting nozzle at the point of root entry inside the sewer pipe with the aid of our CCTV drain camera then cutting and clearing the tree roots from the drain. We will then conduct a final drain camera inspection of the sewer line to confirm with you a clear drain. How long it will take to complete the root cutting process will be determined by the individual circumstances of each job and influenced by the following.

  • The length of the tree root affected drain - Are we clearing only 5 metres of your drain or are we clearing 50 metres of drain or more?


  • The number of tree root entry points - Are we dealing with only 1 or 2 tree root entry points in your drain or 20 or 30 tree root entry points?

  • The number of drain lines that need clearing - Are we clearing your main drain, or one branch drain from one access point or your main drain and multiple branch drains from multiple access points?


  • The diameter or size of the pipe - Are we clearing only 100mm or 150mm diameter pipes or clearing both 100mm and 150mm diameter pipes?

  • The piping material - Tree root intrusions in PVC pipes are usually isolated to one or two locations while tree root intrusions in earthenware pipes can impact an entire sewer system from one end to the other.

  • The structural condition of the drain - Are your drains in reasonably good condition with only 1 or 2 defects or are your drains extensively damaged and failing with many defects?

  • The design of the drainage system - Is your drainage system complex with multiple bends and vertical shafts or are we working only inside straight pipes?

  • The degree of tree root impact - Are we removing a few small light tree roots from 1 or 2 locations as in the video below or removing extremely heavy multiple root intrusions from 20 or 30 locations?

  • The species or type of tree - Are we cutting and removing small diameter or soft tree roots as shown in the root cutting video below or cutting and removing large diameter or wiry tree roots?

Please Note: No one can see underground or inside a blocked drain full of dirty sewer water. The above ground symptoms of a blocked drain underground are exactly the same whether the blockage underground is a simple waste blockage or a more complex tree root blockage, or something else entirely. So, it is important to understand that before we attend their home, we do not expect our customers to know what is going on inside their drains that are buried underground somewhere on their property. Likewise, Plumbers will not know what is going on inside a blocked drain underground until they have cleared and flushed away the backed-up waste material inside the drain (water jetting) and carried out a CCTV drain camera inspection. We also appreciate homeowners taking this information into consideration before questioning how long it will take to clear their blocked drain. See what happens when you insert a drain camera into a blocked drain

Clearing a root blockage is a 4-step process.

Removing Tree Root Intrusions

Before Root Cutting


After Root Cutting

If you need more information about our blocked drain clearing process, call us anytime!

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