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Raw sewer overflows to Coogee Beach.

During the Stay at Home orders we’ve been doing emergency plumbing repairs like hot water, leaking pipes and Blocked drains.

The blocked drain that got my interest is the one taking the waste from 28 houses on Raleigh Street and Carrington Road, Coogee.

The filthy waste water has been bubbling up through the ground about 50 metres down the hill from the houses and running across the footpath in front of other homes not connected to the service, into the street gutters that drain into the creek at the north end of Coogee beach for most of July.

Apparently the 28 home owners are unaffected by the blockage because it’s not in their backyard and a Sydney Morning Herald article reports Sydney Water and Randwick City council cannot force the home owners to pay for any repairs.

It’s well known that every home owner is responsible for the maintenance of their waste water pipes up to where they join the Sydney Water sewer main out in Carrington Road.

This pipeline is known as a common sewer and the costs for any maintenance should be shared equally between all those home owners connected to it.

Come on Randwick Council, Stop this river of sewage running down to Coogee Beach!

Get a contractor to fix the problem and split the costs among the 28 property and home owners.

Click here to read our earlier post on Common Sewer lines.

How to Stop a Blocked drain in Coogee

Stop Tree Roots in Drains

Vaporooter Stops Tree roots in Drains

Hi, It’s Dave Conroy here from The Lone Drainer and Pronto.

I am in Coogee today and we are applying Vaporooter to a house in this tree- lined street. The people who own this house have had problems with their sewer.

Tree roots from this Hills weeping fig (ficus microcarpa) have been growing in their clay sewer pipes for over 10 years and we had been clearing blockages regularly.

We have been applying Vaporooter in those same pipes now for about four years and they haven’t had a blocked drain since. Those are great results!

If you live in a street similar to this, where there is a beautiful canopy above but underground, the tree roots are getting into your sewer pipes, then you should consider Vaporooter to Stop tree roots in your drains.

If you would like to find out about Vaporooter, call me on Sydney 02 9664 4990.

Is it O.K. to take a longer shower?

As Sydney and most of New South Wales is knee-deep in floodwater I had a friend ask me this morning, “is it OK to take a longer shower?”

I encouraged him and his entire family to take a longer shower over the next few days. Using the water may actually help those that are living downstream from Warragamba Dam where the residents and farmers are flooded by the water running over the dam spillway and overwhelming the Nepean and Hawkesbury river systems downstream.

Just over twelve months ago we were in the grip of a drought that was choking our country cousins and dust storms were commonplace across New South Wales.

The rain won’t last forever, in fact, it’s forecast to clear up this afternoon and deliver a 29° hot sunny day tomorrow.

The rain has exposed many blocked drains and stormwater pits and pipes. So when the sun comes out, make the most of the abundant water in our catchment dams and clean out those pits, grates, drains and the rainwater down pipes blocked with leaf debris.

World Plumbing Day 2021

Today is the 11th of March 2021 and it’s World Plumbing Day!

I just wanted to remind you that twelve months ago today, which was also World Plumbing Day, that we had a pandemic declared in Australia. While we’ve all had our lives changed over the last twelve months, the trees that you can see around me here are still growing in the drains in this house.

We have come back for our annual application of Vaporooter to STOP tree roots growing in the sewer pipes of this beautiful home.

Enjoy World Plumbing Day. Thank your local plumber, enjoy his company. Make him a cup of tea or coffee.

Woollahra Council trees are blocking my drains

Many of the blocked drains we attend to 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 through leaking pipe joints and damage the sewer drains and stormwater pipes that take wastewater off your property. 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?

In Waverley Council’s jurisdiction, blocked drains are cause quite often by the roots of the trees that line the streets.

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 that we attend 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
  • Maybe 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!

To put it 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 dealing with 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

One of the handiest tools for a plumbing professional 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 that 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.

The sewer service diagram 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 distancing, 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 from Bronte called. 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.

More rain please


The rain has kept emergency plumbers on their toes.

If you need help with a flooding emergency, please call us.

Meanwhile, blow the rain to the west.
Our country cousins need it!

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 to 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 that caused the garage to flood.

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 up to 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

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 in 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 when they find that out.

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 that has been 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, and 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

Here is a simple demonstration by Tristan from The Lone Drainer And Pronto showing 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 means, there 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.