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8 tips on the subject of drains and blockages

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If drainpipes are blocked, it is usually unpleasant and expensive. But there are easy ways of avoiding such problems that cost nothing. How? Just read the following 8 tips!

1. The kitchen drain stinks - what can you do? 

Fat cools when flowing out of the sink, and sticks like glue to the pipes. Food waste and limescale stick to this in turn - as well as new fat. Over and over again. The perfect mix for a stinking and blocked drain.

Tip: Regularly fill your sink with hot water and let it flow out in a gush. It's best repeated a second time. This liquefies the accumulated fats and washes them away. Clean the fat out of greasy pans with household paper before washing them and dispose of larger quantities of oil at the communal collection point. 

2. Your toilet is blocked – what now? 

Can you imagine how much trash is disposed of in the toilet? For example, diapers, sanitary napkins, cat litter, dental floss, food waste. All these float around in the drainpipes – and back into your apartment in any backwater, in addition to feces. Horrible! Trash also needs additional handling in the sewage treatment plant. 

Tip: Don't just rinse your toilet using the water-saving flush, but use the full-flush facility once in a while. If there's a blockage, first try to clear it using a rubber suction bell with a handle. Items that are jammed such as children's toys must be removed "by hand" – so it's a good thing to always have some rubber gloves in the house.

3. Tufts of hair in the shower – what will help? 

When we shower and bath, we lose head and body hair. Together with oily shower and hair care products, these stick to the inside walls of the pipes. In time, this narrows the flow through the pipes and slows down the speed of the flow. More and more dirt sticks to the pipe walls – a vicious circle.

Tip: Use sieve inserts in the shower and bathtub. They are more environmentally friendly and more effective than chemicals. Cleansing agents are active in the siphon, but not on the pipe walls. To fish out hair, cable ties are generally effective. 

4. Bacteria in the pipes – harmful? 

Congealed inside walls of pipes become breeding grounds for micro-organisms that find their ideal living conditions in fats and feces. Their excretions can severely damage the pipe systems. This also increases the bacterial contamination of your living spaces – which is hardly beneficial to your health.  

Tip: If the discharge of water from your shower, bathtub, dishwasher or sink is too slow and cannot be fixed with the usual initial measures:  Be quick to hire a professional. Because it's only with clean pipes that you can bring the bacterial contamination in your home back under your control.

Free check of your pipes: Waste pipes are expensive. It is therefore important to check them periodically.

RohrMax – AXA service partner

5. Siphon and a nasty smell – what do I need to know? 

The water that sits in the "S"  of the siphon functions as a barrier to smells and bacteria from the sewage system. If it dries out, the stench is unmistakable. 

Tip: For any bathtubs and sinks that you hardly use, run the water at regular intervals to fill the siphon. Before leaving your vacation apartment, be sure to cover all the drainage outflows with plugs. Be careful when removing siphons yourself: If they subsequently leak, you are liable. This is especially critical in the case of showers and bathtubs as the damage is not immediately apparent. 

6. Roots in the drainage system – preventable? 

In search of water, roots often penetrate pipe systems – espalier trees and bamboo are well-known culprits. This can lead to drainage problems or even backwater and have consequences, particularly in the event of damage. 

Tip: Attach a root barrier to trees and shrubs. This helps prevent expensive root damage to waste pipes. 

7. The roof gutter is running over – what now? 

Leaves in the fall and moss may block roof runoffs. In heavy rain, water can be squirted for meters from overflowing roof gutters. This can lead, for example, to facade damage or flooding in the basement or underground garage.  

Tip: Clean your roof gutters once a year – preferably at the end of fall. In addition, high-pressure flushing removes fallen leaves and dirt from the pipes. This prevents a backlog, as well as possible ice formation in the winter.

  • Teaser Image
    Thank you, AXA service partners!

    Cleaning and maintaining pipes, 24-hour service, free pipe check – a service offered by RohrMax for over 45 years throughout Switzerland. RohrMax is one of around 230 AXA service partners.

    To the pipe expert RohrMax

8. Water damage and clean-up – who is liable?

The question of liability can often only be clarified when the cause is known.

Generally, the following applies:

  • Owners are only obligated to perform regular checks of the waste pipes outside of houses.
  • Landlords are responsible for the serviceable drains and their maintenance. If a drain becomes blocked during normal use, the landlord is liable.
  • Tenants are liable only in the case of non-contractual use. Please note: This includes the flushing of sanitary napkins, too much toilet paper, trash, fats and oils. Tenants are also responsible for their guests. For a landlord to be able to transfer the costs of cleaning blocked waste pipes to the tenant, he must be able to prove beyond doubt that the blockage was caused in this way. In the case of properties with multiple tenants and a blockage in the downpipe, acquiring such proof is difficult.
  • Damage repair over and above the usual unblocking attempts should be left to the experts. For example, never remove the siphon from the shower. If it subsequently leaks, you are liable. 
  • Insurance protection must be assessed on an individual basis. Building insurance, liability insurance or household contents insurance? Which insurance policy is liable, if any, depends on the actual damage. If you want to be comprehensively insured, you should seek advice.

Report damage immediately in an emergency!

To AXA's 24-hour claims service 

In an emergency, leave everything to AXA's 24-hour claims service: We offer the right professionals from our partner network without delay and implement the necessary measures – in just 4 hours, a building dryer will also be on site.

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