Uh-oh – you pulled the plug out of the bathtub, but the water isn’t draining. Sound familiar? Almost everyone has had to deal with a clogged drain now and then, and it isn’t any fun. Either you have to get the clog out yourself, which is usually an unpleasant job, or you have to call a professional to do it, which can be expensive.
The best way to deal with drain clogs is to prevent them from forming in the first place. But how can you do that? A good way to start is by understanding why drains clog in the first place. Here are six of the main culprits behind clogged drains.
Soap – We associate soap with cleanliness, but once it goes down the drain, soap can actually be pretty gross. Soap scum sticks to the sides of the pipe, and over time, this makes the pipe narrower and narrower. Eventually, you’ll notice that water isn’t draining as well as it used to.
Grease – Like soap, grease can stick to the sides of a pipe and narrow its diameter over time. This is especially true of grease that hardens when it gets cool, such as bacon fat. Even if the grease is liquid when you pour it down the drain, it cools as it travels through the pipe and eventually sticks to the walls. Never pour grease down a drain – dispose of it outside or in the trash instead.
Hair, dirt, and skin flakes – When you wash your hair or scrub your face, you could be unwittingly contributing to a clogged drain. Hair, dirt, and skin flakes can easily stick to soap scum that’s already built up in your pipes, making it even harder for water to get through. Hair is an especially big problem – it doesn’t take much hair to block up the drain in your shower or bathtub. To prevent or slow down the buildup, you may want to invest in a hair catcher for your bathtub or shower drain.
Food – Waterlogged food remnants can get stuck in your kitchen drain and cause a buildup. Foods that tend to get mushy in water, like rice and pasta, can be especially dangerous for your drain. Coffee grounds can also contribute to a blockage. Avoid rinsing any bits of food down the drain.
Quilted toilet paper – Quilted toilet paper might be softer and more comfortable than other kinds of toilet paper, but it doesn’t dissolve easily in water, which can lead to a blocked toilet. Opt for a septic-friendly brand of toilet paper instead. Don’t flush anything except waste and toilet paper down your toilet – wet wipes and feminine hygiene products need to go in the trash instead.
Structural problems – Sometimes your drain gets clogged because of factors outside your control. If your pipes shift over time or get damaged by tree roots, your drains might get blocked up without an obvious reason. If this happens, call a professional to assess the problem.
Drains get clogged for a lot of different reasons. Some of these reasons are preventable, and others are just a matter of bad luck. If your drains are in good shape now, keep them that way by being careful not to rinse hair, food, or grease down them. If your drains are plugged up and you can’t unclog them yourself, it’s time to call a plumbing professional.
Author bio – Charlie Teschner started MESA Plumbing, Heating, and Cooling in 1982. Charlie has a journeyman and master plumber’s license. He was raised with a strong work ethic and he now applies those values to tasks such as Longmont, CO heating repair.