Drain cleaning indeed isn’t the most glamorous of chores. You might not even be aware of the status of your drains, pipes, and plumbing fixtures.
Clogged drains are a common home plumbing issue, and to keep your plumbing system in proper shape, you have to know how to prevent clogged drains. So, how do you prevent drain problems before they even develop? Before we get to that, we have to first go through what causes drain clogs in the first place.
The Causes of Clogged Drains
When the water in your plumbing system encounters a full or partial obstruction, it will redirect itself, resulting in anything from flooding and corrosion to slow drainage issues and even sewer backups. While some of these issues may be just a minor hassle, others might quickly escalate into major problems that inflict significant damage to your home and wallet.
Preventing clogged drains starts with identifying the most common household causes of clogged drains. Here’s a look at the eight leading causes of clogged drains:
Table of Contents
- » 8 Most Common Causes Of Clogged Drains
- 1. Oil, Grease, and Fat
- 2. Hair
- 3. Soap
- 4. Dirt
- 5. Food Waste
- 6. Wipes and Diapers
- 7. Small Solid Objects
- 8. Tree Roots
- » Types of Clogged Drains
- » Picking the Right Products and Tools for the Clogged Drain
- » How to Prevent Clog Drains
- » Benefits of Cleaning Your Drains
- » Need Professional Drain Cleaning Services?
8 Most Common Causes Of Clogged Drains
1. Oil, Grease, and Fat
Why first on the list? It is because oil, grease, and fat are major culprits in causing severe problems to your home’s drain system. Oil, grease, and fat are a problem because many believe that simply running hot water down a drain after pouring grease averts all issues. While hot water works to an extent, it doesn’t fully solve the problem since some of the oil and grease solidifies in the pipes, leading to blockages.
A combination of detergent and hot water poured down the drain is usually enough to break down the solidified grease. You can then use a plunger to remove the gunk.
Human hair (alongside animal fur and other stringy materials) is often a recurrent contributor to clogs, especially in the laundry, shower, bathtub, and bathroom drains. Hair can knot up and bind with grease or other sticky substances to form drain clogs.
Sure, we can’t help that hair comes out of our heads naturally. However, we can deal with hair blockages by ensuring that all drains have hair strainer drain guards to prevent hair from going down your drain. Also, make it a habit to clean your hair strainer drain guards regularly.
How does soap cause a blockage in your pipes? Isn’t it supposed to clean your drains in the first place?
Well, did you know that many traditional soap bars consist of grease or fat? The fats in soap mix with minerals in the water to create soap scum, a white, chalky residue that accumulates in time, staining bath fittings and clogging pipes. In some cases, the soap itself is not a problem, but when it combines with hair and dirt in your drains, they form solid clumps which could block your drain.
The best way to deal with soap buildup is by pressure washing your pipes.
Your drains and pipes are there to wash away as much dirt as you want. Sure, the sole purpose of your drains is to pass down dirt away from your garments and body. However, dirt can accumulate in your pipes, leading to clogs, especially when mixed with grease, soap, and hair.
To get rid of dirt buildup in your drains, make use of a plunger, drain cleaner, or a plumber’s snake for severe cases.
5. Food Waste
Food bits and chunks belong in the garbage bin, not the sink, and certainly not the toilet. While all drains serve to wash away waste, they were all designed to handle specific types of waste.
What if I have a garbage disposal?
The purpose of a garbage disposal system is to shred waste into tiny pieces to travel down the drain quickly. Unfortunately, some food waste could still clog your drain even if you have the most powerful garbage disposal system.
Also, some food waste such as tea leaves and coffee grounds clump together in water rather than breaking down, which could lead to a clog in your kitchen sink.
Drain cleaners, plunging, and a plumber’s snake should help you get rid of food waste clogs, but if you have a garbage disposal system, you’ll have to detach it, clean it, and reinstall it.
6. Wipes and Diapers
You should only flush toilet paper or human waste down a toilet.
Wipes, diapers, cat litter, and even the so-called ‘flushable products’ can and will eventually clog your toilet. Also, something to note is that your city’s sewer treatment has microorganisms that break down human waste and toilet paper only. So, you’ll be doing your city a favor by not flushing down items that aren’t biodegradable down your toilet.
The old reliable toilet plunger will help you clear most toilet clogs, but you might need an auger to help with some clogs.
7. Small Solid Objects
Do you have a toddler in your home?
Your child might flush down a toy when playing, wreaking havoc on your home’s plumbing system. Pets are capable of dropping toys down your toilet bowl too, and if the opening is unprotected, you might also accidentally drop small objects in your toilet.
While a plunger or toilet auger may help, you might need the help of an experienced plumber if your kid’s doll is stuck in there
8. Tree Roots
Sometimes, nature itself is to blame for your clogged drains.
Tree roots serve the purpose of absorbing water and nutrients, so they are naturally drawn to water pipes in search of water. Tree routes can penetrate even the tiniest of leaks or cracks in a pipe. They then quickly grow, leading to blockages in your drain line.
Unlike the other causes of drain clogs, it isn’t as easy to get rid of tree roots, so you might have to seek the expertise of a good local plumber.
Types of Clogged Drains
Before you start fixing clogged drains, you need to learn about the two types of blockages; hard and soft drain blockages. Knowing the difference between soft and hard will help you select the correct drain cleaner tool when fixing a backup.
- Hard Blockages – These are the blockages that develop when solid debris such as children’s toys, feminine products, and excess toilet paper ends up in your drain line.
- Soft Blockages – These are the clogs that build up over a long time. They often consist of soap scum, hair, lime, and grease.
Picking the Right Products and Tools for the Clogged Drain
Now that you know about the types and causes of clogs, unclogging most drains around your home shouldn’t be a problem, but you need to know the right tool for the job.
Here are four essential drain cleaning tools that you need to have in your house:
Yes, the plunger is at the top of the list because of its popularity and effectiveness when dealing with simple waste clogs. The plunger uses suction to dislodge debris, getting your drainage up and running again in no time.
2. Plumbing Hardware
In some cases, you might need to dismantle severely clogged drain fixtures, which is why you need these handy tools in your toolbox:
- Pipe cutters
- Metal files
- Tubing cutters
3. Long Wire
A simple way to remove hair and small objects stuck in bathroom drains is by using a long wire, such as an extended coat hanger. Using your pair of pliers, bend the end of the wire into a small hook, then use the hook to fish for hair and other objects you can pull out of your drain.
4. Hot Water
Yes, you can use hot water as a tool! When mixed with materials such as acidic soda or detergent, it might help to dislodge and break apart clogged debris in most cases.
You might feel like purchasing commercial chemical drain cleaners for more stubborn clogs, but don’t do that as these chemicals might severely damage your drain pipes. Instead, use a mixture of vinegar and baking soda, which is a much safer alternative for dealing with tough blockages.
How to Prevent Clog Drains
While you may not be able to avert all clogs, there are a couple of handy tips for preventing most clogs and backups. Just follow these clever tips to prevent clogs, and you’ll be able to keep your drains flowing freely.
1. Never pour FOG (Fats, Oil or Grease) down a kitchen drain or garbage disposal
All substances high in fat are your drain’s biggest enemies. So, how do you clean utensils with bacon grease, butter, coconut oil, peanut butter, and other high-fat food? Use a paper towel to soak up oils, then throw it in the trash before washing the frying pan.
2. Don’t melt fats using hot tap water
You shouldn’t use hot water to melt fat before pouring it down the drain. It is because the fat will cool down and harden, clogging your pipe.
3. Baking soda and hot water
Some fats and oils will still find their way into your sink. To get rid of these, throw a handful of baking soda into your drain, then follow it up with boiling water. To maintain a spotless kitchen drain, do this once a month.
4. Collect your food waste
Shredding food in your garbage disposal might seem convenient, but it could clog your drain. A better idea is to put onion peels, banana peels, potato peels, and eggshells in the trash.
In the Bathroom
5. Only flush human waste or toilet paper down the toilet
Also, don’t use excess toilet paper as it could clog your toilet.
6. Prevent hair from going down the drain
Install a mesh screen to prevent hair and other gunk from going down your shower or bathtub drain. Be sure to clean these drain stoppers regularly.
7. Put a lint catcher on your washing machine hose
Installing a lint catcher on the end of your washing machine hose will prevent bits of fabric, lint, and even the occasional sock from sneaking through your washing machine hose resulting in blockages.
8. Consider installing drain screens on all your drains.
Drain screens will help you ensure that food, soap scum, hair, and other gunk don’t enter your drain in the first place.
9. Never dump paint, cement, or paint thinner down your drains!
Paint thinner will corrode your pipes, while cement and paint solidify, leading to blockages.
Benefits of Cleaning Your Drains
1. Speed Up Drainage
Imagine cutting your showers short because your pipes can’t drain water away quickly. Water quickly flows down clean drains, so you won’t have to deal with standing water and backups.
2. Prevention of Foul Odors
Imagine all the gunk and debris that goes down your drains daily. Thorough drain cleaning washes away mold spores before bacteria sets in, leading to unpleasant smells.
3. Prevent Damage to Your Home
If you thought water damage from a clean water pipe was bad, imagine the damage leaking wastewater can cause to your home. Prevent this by ensuring debris and waste don’t build up in your pipes by cleaning them regularly.
4. Money in Your Pocket
Clogs could lead to corrosion which usually results in water leaks and an increase in water bills. In addition to lower water bills, cleaning your clogs also saves you money as your pipe and drain systems have a longer life span.
5. Avoid Disasters and Plumbing Work
Failure to clean your pipes could eventually lead to significant flooding in parts of your home, and such a plumbing disaster won’t be easy to fix. Drain cleaning keeps your home clog-free, which in turn helps you to avoid backups and floods.
Need Professional Drain Cleaning Services?
There are so many things that cause clogged drains, but you can prevent all of them.
As long as you never put anything you shouldn’t down the drain, your home will remain clog-free. However, if you still experience a clogged drain and none of these tips work, don’t risk damage to your home. Just call Gallegos Plumbing, the number one plumbing specialist in Ventura County. At Gallegos Plumbing, we possess all the tools, skills, and experience required to swiftly assess and eliminate all kinds of clogs from your plumbing system.
Call us at (805) 243-2622 or request our services today!