Why Do Plumbers Examine Drains and What They Look For

Do you ever wonder what happens behind the scenes when a plumber comes to your home? Do they simply fix the problem and leave, or do they take a closer look at your drains? In this article, we will explore why plumbers examine drains and what they look for. You may be surprised to learn that a clogged drain can be a sign of a bigger problem, and a plumber’s examination can prevent future issues. So, let’s dive in and find out why plumbers are always taking a peek down your drains.

The Importance of Drain Maintenance

How Clogged Drains Affect Your Home

Clogged drains can cause a range of problems in your home, from minor inconveniences to major disasters. Some of the ways that clogged drains can affect your home include:

  • Slow-draining sinks and tubs: When your drains become clogged, water takes longer to drain from your sinks and tubs. This can be frustrating and time-consuming, especially if you have guests or are in a hurry to get ready in the morning.
  • Backed-up toilets: A clogged toilet can be a real mess, both literally and figuratively. When your toilet becomes backed up, it can overflow and cause damage to your bathroom floor, walls, and fixtures. In some cases, it may even require professional cleaning services to remove the mess.
  • Sewer odors: Clogged drains can also cause sewer odors to fill your home. These odors can be unpleasant and unhealthy, especially if they are caused by a backup in your main sewer line.
  • Health hazards: Clogged drains can also be a health hazard, especially if they are caused by a buildup of bacteria or other harmful substances. When drains become clogged, they can create a breeding ground for germs and other bacteria, which can spread throughout your home and make you and your family sick.

Overall, it’s important to keep your drains clean and clear to avoid these and other problems. Regular maintenance can help prevent clogs and keep your drains flowing smoothly, ensuring that your home stays clean, healthy, and comfortable.

The Role of Regular Drain Inspections

Regular drain inspections play a crucial role in maintaining the proper functioning of a home’s drainage system. Plumbers examine drains to identify potential issues before they become major problems.

One of the primary reasons for regular drain inspections is to identify clogs and blockages. Over time, hair, soap, food residue, and other debris can accumulate in the drain and create a blockage. If left unchecked, these blockages can cause water to back up in the sink or shower, leading to flooding and damage to the home.

Another reason for regular drain inspections is to check for damage to the drain itself. A damaged drain can lead to water leaks, which can cause damage to the home’s structure and foundation. A plumber can identify any damage to the drain and make necessary repairs to prevent further damage.

Additionally, regular drain inspections can help identify issues with the water flow and pressure. If there are issues with the water flow or pressure, it can cause problems with the home’s plumbing system. A plumber can identify these issues and make necessary repairs to ensure proper water flow and pressure throughout the home.

Overall, regular drain inspections are essential for maintaining the proper functioning of a home’s drainage system. By identifying potential issues before they become major problems, homeowners can save money on costly repairs and ensure that their home remains safe and dry.

Understanding Plumber’s Tools and Techniques

Key takeaway: Regular drain maintenance is important to avoid problems such as slow-draining sinks and toilets, sewer odors, and water flow issues. Plumbers use tools such as plungers and drain snakes, as well as video inspection equipment, to identify and resolve drain problems. Homeowners can take steps to prevent drain problems by using drain de-cloggers, scheduling regular plumbing checkups, and staying vigilant for early signs of drain problems.

Plungers and Drain Snakes

Plumbers employ a variety of tools and techniques to examine drains and identify potential issues. Two common tools used by plumbers are plungers and drain snakes.


Plungers are handheld devices that are used to remove blockages in drains by creating a seal around the opening and applying pressure to force the blockage out. Plungers come in different sizes and shapes, with the most common being the traditional bell-shaped plunger. Plumbers will often start by using a plunger to see if they can clear the drain by themselves.

Drain Snakes

Drain snakes, also known as augers, are long, flexible rods that are inserted into the drain to remove blockages. They are designed to navigate the bends and turns of the drain pipes and can reach deeper into the pipe than a plunger. Drain snakes are usually powered by a motor and can be operated by a plumber to break up and remove blockages.

Both plungers and drain snakes are useful tools for plumbers when examining drains. However, if the blockage is too large or the drain is damaged, a plumber may need to use additional tools or techniques to resolve the issue.

Video Inspection Equipment

Video inspection equipment is a critical tool for plumbers when examining drains. It allows them to inspect the interior of the drain pipe without having to physically access it. This equipment is especially useful in situations where the drain is difficult to access or when the plumber needs to inspect the entire length of the pipe.

There are two main types of video inspection equipment:

  1. Cable-based systems: These systems use a flexible cable with a small camera attached to the end to inspect the drain. The camera sends images back to a monitor, allowing the plumber to see the condition of the pipe.
  2. Rod-based systems: These systems use a long, flexible rod with a camera attached to the end to inspect the drain. The rod is inserted into the drain, and the camera sends images back to a monitor.

Both types of video inspection equipment have their advantages and disadvantages. Cable-based systems are more flexible and can be used in smaller, more narrow pipes. Rod-based systems are sturdier and can be used in larger pipes.

Regardless of the type of video inspection equipment used, the plumber will be looking for several things when examining the drain. These include:

  • Blockages: Plumbers will be looking for any blockages in the drain, such as debris, hair, or other materials that may be causing a backup.
  • Corrosion: Plumbers will also be looking for any signs of corrosion or damage to the pipe. This can include holes, cracks, or other damage that may be causing problems with the drain.
  • Root intrusion: Tree roots can grow into the drain pipe, causing blockages and other problems. Plumbers will be looking for any signs of root intrusion when examining the drain.
  • Water flow: Plumbers will also be looking at the water flow through the drain to determine if there are any problems with the pipe’s interior.

By using video inspection equipment, plumbers can quickly and accurately identify problems with drains and develop a plan to fix them. This equipment is an essential tool in the plumber’s toolkit and helps to ensure that drains are functioning properly.

Identifying Common Drain Problems

Slow Draining Water

When plumbers examine drains, one of the most common problems they look for is slow draining water. This issue can be caused by a variety of factors, including blockages, clogs, and damage to the drainpipes. Here are some of the things that plumbers typically look for when investigating slow draining water:

  • Blockages and clogs: The most common cause of slow draining water is a blockage or clog in the drainpipe. This can be caused by hair, soap, food debris, or other materials that have accumulated in the pipe and are preventing water from flowing freely. Plumbers will typically use a plunger or a drain snake to clear the blockage and restore proper drainage.
    * **Damaged or corroded pipes:** Over time, the pipes that carry water to and from the drains can become damaged or corroded. This can cause water to move more slowly through the pipes, resulting in slow draining water. Plumbers will inspect the pipes for any signs of damage or corrosion and may need to repair or replace them if necessary.
  • Malfunctioning water seals: The water seals that are located around the base of the drainpipe can become damaged or worn over time, allowing air to enter the pipe and slowing down the flow of water. Plumbers will inspect the water seals for any signs of damage and replace them if necessary.
  • Deep-seated issues: In some cases, slow draining water can be caused by deeper-seated issues such as a collapsed or damaged drainpipe, a problem with the main sewer line, or even a problem with the local municipal sewer system. Plumbers will need to perform a more thorough investigation to identify and address these types of issues.

Gurgling Noises

Plumbers examine drains to identify potential problems, and one common issue they look for is gurgling noises. These noises are often a sign of a blockage or clog in the drain system. Here’s what plumbers typically look for when they hear gurgling noises:

  • Location of the noise: The gurgling sound typically originates from the drain pipe, which may be located in the sink, shower, or bathtub. The noise is often most noticeable when water is being used, as it indicates that the water is trying to escape through the blocked drain.
  • Presence of standing water: Plumbers will also check for standing water near the drain. If there is standing water, it may indicate a clog or blockage that is preventing water from flowing properly through the drain.
  • Pressure changes: Gurgling noises can also be caused by changes in air pressure within the drain system. When a blockage is present, it can create areas of high and low pressure, which can cause the gurgling sound.
  • Other indicators: Plumbers may also look for other signs of a blocked drain, such as slow draining water, foul odors, or discoloration of the water. These signs can help confirm the presence of a blockage and guide the plumber in choosing the appropriate solution.

By identifying the source of the gurgling noises, plumbers can diagnose the problem and take the necessary steps to resolve it. This may involve using specialized tools to clear the blockage, repairing or replacing damaged pipes, or making modifications to the drain system to prevent future blockages.

Foul Odors

Plumbers are trained to identify various signs of drain problems, and one of the most noticeable is the presence of foul odors. If a drain is clogged or blocked, it can trap water and debris, which can lead to the growth of bacteria and other microorganisms. These organisms can produce unpleasant odors that can be noticed throughout a home or building.

There are several types of bacteria that can cause drain odors, including sulfur-producing bacteria, which create the rotten egg smell commonly associated with drain problems. Other bacteria can produce more unpleasant odors, such as those that smell like sewage or decay.

In addition to bacteria, drain odors can also be caused by other factors, such as the buildup of grease and oils in the drain, which can create a lingering smell. When plumbers examine drains, they will look for signs of blockages, such as debris or hair buildup, as well as other indicators of drain problems, such as water backing up in the sink or bathtub.

Identifying the source of drain odors is an important part of maintaining a healthy and comfortable living environment. Plumbers will use specialized tools and equipment to inspect the drain pipes and identify any blockages or damage that may be causing the odors. They may also use specialized cleaning agents or mechanical devices to clear any blockages and restore proper drain function.

In addition to improving the overall cleanliness and health of a home or building, addressing drain odors can also help to prevent more serious plumbing problems down the line. By identifying and addressing drain issues early on, plumbers can help to prevent the buildup of harmful bacteria and other contaminants, as well as reduce the risk of more extensive and costly repairs in the future.

Overflowing Water

Overflowing water in a drain is a common problem that can be caused by various factors. Some of the most common causes of overflowing water in a drain include:

  • Blockages: Debris, such as hair, grease, and food, can accumulate in the drain and cause it to become clogged. This can lead to water overflowing from the drain.
  • Damaged pipes: Cracks or damage to the pipes can cause water to leak out of the drain.
  • High water levels: If the water level in the drain is too high, it can cause the water to overflow.
  • Defective plumbing fixtures: Fixtures such as faucets or showerheads can become worn or damaged, causing water to overflow from the drain.

Plumbers will typically look for these common causes when examining a drain with overflowing water. By identifying the root cause of the problem, they can determine the best course of action to fix the issue. This may involve clearing a blockage, repairing or replacing damaged pipes, or replacing defective fixtures.

Proper Drain Maintenance for Homeowners

Preventing Hair and Debris Buildup

Maintaining your home’s drains is essential to prevent blockages and ensure proper water flow. One of the most common causes of drain clogs is the buildup of hair and debris. Here are some tips on how to prevent this buildup:

  • Use a drain cover: Installing a drain cover on your shower or bathtub can help prevent hair and other debris from entering the drain. Make sure the cover fits tightly to the drain opening to prevent hair from slipping through the cracks.
  • Use a strainer: A strainer can be placed over the drain to catch hair and other debris before it enters the drain. Empty the strainer regularly to prevent buildup.
  • Be mindful of what you put down the drain: Avoid putting any large items down the drain, such as cotton balls, q-tips, or dental floss. These items can easily become stuck in the drain and cause a blockage.
  • Regularly clean your drains: Use a mixture of baking soda and vinegar to create a paste that can be poured down the drain to help break down any buildup. Follow this by pouring a kettle of boiling water down the drain to help clear any blockages.

By following these simple tips, you can help prevent hair and debris buildup in your home’s drains and keep them flowing smoothly.

Using Drain De-clogger

Plumbers examine drains to identify any potential issues that may cause blockages or other problems in the drainage system. One common issue that plumbers look for is the accumulation of hair, soap, and other debris that can build up in the drain and create clogs. To address this issue, homeowners can use a drain de-clogger, which is a plumbing tool designed to clear blockages in the drain.

Drain de-cloggers come in a variety of types, including chemical de-cloggers, plungers, and mechanical snakes. Chemical de-cloggers are designed to dissolve the blockage, while plungers and mechanical snakes are designed to physically remove the blockage. It’s important to choose the right type of de-clogger for the specific type of blockage, as using the wrong tool can cause damage to the drain or plumbing system.

To use a drain de-clogger, follow these steps:

  1. Turn off the water supply to the affected area.
  2. Insert the de-clogger into the drain opening.
  3. Use a plunger to create suction and try to remove the blockage.
  4. If the blockage is not removed, use a mechanical snake to physically remove it.
  5. Once the blockage is removed, run water through the drain to clear any remaining debris.

It’s important to note that while drain de-cloggers can be effective in removing blockages, they may not be able to address all issues with the drainage system. If the blockage is particularly stubborn or if there are larger issues with the drainage system, it may be necessary to call a professional plumber to address the problem.

Scheduling Regular Plumbing Checkups

As a homeowner, it is essential to take proper care of your plumbing system to prevent clogs and other issues that can lead to costly repairs. One of the most effective ways to ensure that your drains are functioning properly is by scheduling regular plumbing checkups with a professional plumber. Here are some reasons why you should consider this important step in maintaining your home’s plumbing system.

  • Early detection of potential problems: Plumbers have the expertise and knowledge to identify potential issues with your drains before they become major problems. By catching these issues early, you can save yourself time and money by avoiding costly repairs down the line.
  • Prevention of drain blockages: A buildup of debris, hair, and other materials can clog your drains over time. Plumbers can use specialized tools to clear out these blockages and prevent them from causing more significant problems.
  • Identification of underlying issues: In addition to clogs, there are other underlying issues that can affect your plumbing system, such as corrosion, leaks, and damage from tree roots. A plumber can identify these issues and recommend the necessary repairs to keep your plumbing system functioning properly.
  • Peace of mind: Knowing that your plumbing system is in good working order can give you peace of mind and prevent stress and anxiety caused by plumbing problems.

In summary, scheduling regular plumbing checkups with a professional plumber is an essential step in maintaining your home’s plumbing system. By doing so, you can catch potential problems early, prevent drain blockages, identify underlying issues, and enjoy peace of mind knowing that your plumbing system is in good working order.

Seeking Professional Help from Plumbers

When to Call a Plumber

Plumbers are professionals who specialize in handling drainage issues in residential and commercial properties. While some drainage problems can be fixed by homeowners, there are situations where calling a plumber is necessary. Here are some signs that indicate you should contact a plumber:

  • Persistent clogs: If you have tried several methods to unclog a drain, such as using chemical drain cleaners or a plunger, and the clog persists, it may be time to call a plumber.
  • Slow draining: If water is taking longer than usual to drain from your sinks, tubs, or showers, it could be a sign of a blockage or a more serious issue.
  • Unpleasant odors: A sewage smell emanating from your drains is a sign that there is a problem with your drainage system.
  • Backups: If you notice water backing up in your drains or overflowing from your sink, tub, or shower, it could be a sign of a blockage or a more serious issue.
  • Strange noises: If you hear gurgling or bubbling sounds coming from your drains, it could be a sign of a blockage or a more serious issue.
  • Water damage: If you notice any signs of water damage around your home, such as peeling paint or discoloration on walls or ceilings, it could be a sign of a plumbing issue that needs to be addressed.

It’s always better to call a plumber sooner rather than later to avoid more serious problems down the road. A plumber can assess the situation and provide you with the best solution for your drainage issues.

The Benefits of Hiring a Licensed Plumber

When it comes to addressing drainage issues in your home or business, hiring a licensed plumber is often the best course of action. While it may seem like a simple task, drain problems can quickly become complex and difficult to diagnose, making it important to seek the expertise of a professional. Here are some of the benefits of hiring a licensed plumber:

  • Expertise and experience: Licensed plumbers have the training and experience necessary to identify and fix a wide range of drainage issues. They are equipped with the tools and knowledge to quickly diagnose the problem and recommend the most effective solution.
  • Safety: Drain issues can sometimes be hazardous, especially if they involve gas leaks or water damage. Hiring a licensed plumber ensures that the problem is addressed safely and efficiently, reducing the risk of accidents or further damage.
  • Warranties and guarantees: Many licensed plumbers offer warranties or guarantees on their work, giving homeowners peace of mind knowing that their drainage issues will be resolved effectively and efficiently.
  • Insurance: Licensed plumbers are typically insured, which means that homeowners are protected from any damages that may occur during the repair process.
  • Time and cost savings: While hiring a licensed plumber may seem like an added expense, it can actually save homeowners time and money in the long run. Plumbers are able to quickly and efficiently diagnose and fix drainage issues, reducing the time and cost associated with DIY repairs or multiple service calls.

Overall, hiring a licensed plumber offers a range of benefits, from expertise and experience to safety and cost savings. When it comes to addressing drainage issues, it’s important to prioritize the expertise of a professional to ensure that the problem is resolved effectively and efficiently.

The Value of Regular Drain Maintenance and Inspections

Regular drain maintenance and inspections are essential for preventing drain problems and ensuring that your plumbing system is functioning properly. Hiring a professional plumber to perform these tasks can provide numerous benefits, including:

  • Early detection of potential issues: A plumber can inspect your drains and identify any potential issues before they become serious problems. This can help you avoid costly repairs and inconvenient plumbing emergencies.
  • Increased efficiency: Regular maintenance can help keep your drains clean and free-flowing, which can reduce the risk of clogs and blockages. This can also help prevent the buildup of debris and sediment that can slow down the flow of water in your pipes.
  • Prolonged lifespan of your plumbing system: By taking care of your drains and pipes through regular maintenance, you can help extend their lifespan. This can save you money in the long run by reducing the need for costly replacements or repairs.
  • Compliance with local regulations: Depending on where you live, you may be required to have your drains inspected and maintained on a regular basis. Hiring a professional plumber can help ensure that you are in compliance with all local regulations and codes.
  • Peace of mind: Knowing that your drains are in good working order can give you peace of mind and help you avoid the stress and inconvenience of plumbing emergencies.

Staying Vigilant for Early Signs of Drain Problems

As homeowners, it is important to stay vigilant for early signs of drain problems to avoid more severe issues down the line. Some common signs of drain problems include slow draining water, foul odors emanating from the drain, and gurgling noises coming from the pipes. By addressing these issues early on, homeowners can save themselves the hassle and expense of more extensive repairs later on. It is recommended to seek professional help from plumbers who are equipped with the necessary tools and expertise to properly diagnose and fix any drain problems.

The Importance of Hiring Experienced Plumbers for Drain Issues

Hiring an experienced plumber is crucial when dealing with drain issues. While it may be tempting to try to fix the problem oneself, the reality is that drain issues can be complex and require the expertise of a professional. Here are some reasons why hiring an experienced plumber is important:

  • Expertise: Plumbers have the necessary training and experience to identify and fix drain problems quickly and efficiently. They are knowledgeable about the latest tools and techniques for drain repair and can provide effective solutions.
  • Safety: Drain issues can be dangerous, particularly if there is a risk of sewage or other hazardous materials leaking into the home. An experienced plumber will have the necessary safety equipment and knowledge to handle these situations safely.
  • Cost-effective: While hiring a plumber may seem like an added expense, it can actually save money in the long run. Incorrectly fixing a drain issue can cause further damage and lead to more costly repairs down the line. An experienced plumber will provide a thorough and effective solution, reducing the risk of future problems.
  • Warranty: Many plumbers offer warranties on their work, providing peace of mind that the repair will be effective and long-lasting.

In summary, hiring an experienced plumber is essential when dealing with drain issues. They bring expertise, safety, cost-effectiveness, and warranty to the table, making them the best choice for fixing drain problems.


1. Why do plumbers examine drains?

Plumbers examine drains to diagnose and fix any issues that may be affecting the drainage system. A clogged or damaged drain can cause water to back up and overflow, leading to plumbing problems and potential health hazards. By inspecting the drain, plumbers can identify the source of the problem and determine the best course of action to fix it.

2. What do plumbers look for when examining drains?

When examining drains, plumbers look for signs of blockages, damage, or corrosion. They may use a camera or other diagnostic tools to inspect the inside of the drain to get a better view of any potential issues. Plumbers also check for signs of leaks or other problems that may be affecting the drain’s ability to function properly.

3. How often should drains be inspected by plumbers?

It is recommended that drains be inspected by plumbers at least once a year. However, if you notice any issues with your drainage system, such as slow draining or foul odors, it is best to call a plumber as soon as possible to avoid further problems.

4. Can homeowners inspect their own drains?

While homeowners can try to inspect their own drains, it is recommended that they call a professional plumber for a thorough inspection. Plumbers have the necessary tools and expertise to properly diagnose and fix any issues with your drainage system. Attempting to inspect or fix a drain without proper training or experience can result in further damage or even injury.

5. How much does it cost to have a plumber inspect a drain?

The cost of having a plumber inspect a drain can vary depending on the complexity of the problem and the amount of time required to diagnose and fix the issue. It is best to get a quote from a plumber before scheduling an inspection to get an idea of the cost. In general, a basic drain inspection can cost anywhere from $100 to $300, while more complex repairs can cost several hundred dollars.

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