Most Common Causes of Drain Clogs
& How to Prevent Them
At home or in the office you may have noticed that one of the most common problems that arise in sinks and toilets is a clogged drain. If a drain is carrying water or waste material, the idea of a clogged drain is no one's idea of a good time. In the plumbing industry, we have seen nearly every object you can imagine clogging drains, from smartphones to children’s lego blocks. Usually, there are the same main culprits for drain clogs. We are going to give you the most common causes for drain clogs with the hope that you will not have to encounter a clogged drain in your near future.
The body can shed a shocking amount of hair in the shower. When you add shaving and brushing your hair over a sink, hair can quickly build up and form a sizable ball that can easily clog a drain. There are steps you can take to remedy this type of clog from occurring as frequently. Brushing your hair before showering is a great way to get excess hair off your head before it flows down the drain. You can also install a simple mesh screen or a hair collector over the shower drain, both of which can be purchased online. Another good way to break up hair clogs is to put ¼ cup of baking soda into the drain once per week, flushing it down with hot water and finishing with a cup of vinegar.
Another common offender for drain clogging is the accumulation of toilet paper or other toiletry items. Flushable wipes, though labeled “flushable,” will make it down your toilet but will eventually clog the sewer system. Cities have spent millions of dollars on unclogging sewer systems from these “flushable” wipes. Sticking to lighter-ply toilet paper is your best bet. Try keeping all other paper products from going down the toilet including paper towels, napkins, makeup wipes or feminine hygiene products. Simply put, anything that is NOT toilet paper doesn’t belong down the toilet.
Oil, Fat and Grease
These three cooking products are definitely not a friend to your drain. It may be easy to trick yourself into thinking that running scalding hot water while you pour these products down the sink or garbage disposal will prevent them from causing harm to your drainage system. This is a fallacy. Oil, fat and grease will bind to the inside of your pipes, eventually building up to cause a clog. It is much better to let hot bacon grease or oil cool and then empty it into a disposable container to then dispose of it in a trash can. Other fatty substances that are better off in the trash can are fatty meat trimmings, chocolate, starchy foods and butter.
It may seem like a good idea to dump your animal’s waste down the same system that you use, but this is a big no-no in the plumbing world. All cat litter is made up of clay-based material that, when it gets wet, forms into a cement-like substance. Cat litter is also sharp-edged and has a tendency to get caught on other things that are hanging out in your drain. This will eventually lead to a major back-up. It is best to dispose of cat litter and all animal waste in little baggies into a trash can.
This type of buildup is referring to lime or calcium building up on the inside of your pipes from hard water. Some of the signs that you may have mineral buildup include low water pressure, streaks on dishes, soap scum buildup or noticeably higher energy bills. For appliances like a coffee maker, you can use a rinse of white vinegar, which will usually do the job. You should stay away from store-bought abrasive chemicals and call your plumber if other mineral buildup clogs persist.
Sometimes it may skip your mind and one or two of these non-flushable items will end up in the toilet - especially if you have children who find flushing things down the toilet entertaining. If you take these precautionary steps you will find your drains will be clogged less often, as well as a far fewer number of times you need to send off search parties for the plunger.