Your plumbing system needs to be cared for properly to ensure that it remains in good working order. Sometimes things can occur that are out of your control. At other times, you have total control over those happenings and need to deal with them as they occur. Here are the most common reasons for clogs and what you can do about them.
- Dirt. You might think that you can wash dirt away down your drain as much as you like. In reality, dirt can build up and will cause a clog, particularly as it gathers soap scum, grease and hair. You can plunge your drain or use an auger or a snake. Prevention is key, if anything is covered in dirt, it should be rinsed and shaken out before rinsing it in your sink.
- Hair. All types of hair and stringy items (dental floss) are a great way to clog your plumbing system. These clogs can occur in any type of drain including bathtub, shower, and sinks. Hair tends to clump up in a ball and collect other items that are washed down the drain. Some of the worst clogs are due to hair collecting in the drain. You can plunge the clog or use a commercial drain cleaner, but those commercial products might damage your pipes, especially when you use them often. Baking soda and vinegar is a natural type of product that is often effective but it you need something stronger; you can try using a plumbing snake. Hair strainers are something that you can add to your drains to prevent hair from going into the drain.
- Soap. Soap scum can build up over time in your shower and laundry or bathroom drains. This build-up makes the diameter of your pipes, causing your drain to slow or back up. Soap can also combine with other materials to cause clogs. Pressure cleaning can remove the buildup of soap from your pipes, but it is best to prevent the build-up by trying to reduce the amount of soap that is put into your drains.
- Grease, Fat, Oil. These products can lead to serious drain clogs. Oil, grease and fat may at first be liquid when they are put into a drain, but they can become solid and clog up your plumbing. Running hot water into the pipes does not really assist with preventing clogs. If a clog occurs, you can try to plunge it or mix detergent with hot water and pour that into the drains. This can break up solid oils to allow you to plunge them and clear the drain. If this is not successful, you can use a commercial drain product, but use it carefully and make sure you read all the directions. You can prevent issues by absorbing oil and grease with paper towel and placing it in the compost. If you have large amounts of fat, pour it into a can or a cup and when it hardens you can dispose of it in the trash.
- Small Solid Objects. Children often think it is great fun to flush toys down the toilet or thrown them down the sink. If any small items go down a drain which is not protected by a guard, it can lead to a clog. You can try to plunge the clog or use an auger but if the object is solidly lodged in the drain, you might need assistance from a professional. To prevent this from happening, be sure to explain to small children the importance of not throwing toys into the toilet. Nothing should be flushed down a toilet that is not toilet paper or human waste. Cover all shower or sink drains with guards to ensure objects are not accidentally flushed down them.
- Food Waste. Garbage disposals are useful, but when you have one you can still clog your pipes if you put too much volume through it. Tea leaves and coffee grounds are particularly nasty because they do not break down at all. If you have clogged pipes you should try to clear them with a drain cleaner, a plunger or a plumber snake. You can remove your garbage disposal unit an inspect it to ensure it is not clogged and is working correctly. Put all of your food wasted into a compost bin rather than using your garbage disposal unit.
- Cat Litter. This is a product comprised of silica, clay and sand and is meant to absorb moisture and form clumps. This could cause bigger clogs within your plumbing system. If you clog your drain with this product, try a drain cleaner or plunge the drain or use a drain snake. You should never flush cat litter down your toilet. Put it into a garbage bag and throw it into the trash.
- Wipes and Diapers. Nothing should be flushed down your toilet aside from human waste and toilet paper. Wipes and diapers are bulky and will clog your drains. If you use thicker toilet paper it can also cause clogs, especially if a lot of toilet paper is used. You can plunge the clog or use an auger to try and clear it. Never flush anything down the drain aside from what should be flushed.
- Tree Roots. A major cause of plumbing clogs and issues is tree roots. A small crack in a pipe can allow a tree root to work its way in. Once a tree root gets into a pipe, it will get larger and cause an obstruction and damage. You might need to have some professionals come to rectify this issue. This can be a very complex and costly situation, particularly if the pipes need to be excavated. Keep a close eye on trees and plants in your yard and ensure that you know the condition of your drains, it is a fact that older pipes will break down over time.
Recognize the symptoms of clogged in your plumbing system when they occur. If you notice that your sink, toilet or bathtub drains very slowly or do not drain at all then this is usually an indication that your plumbing system has a serious clog. It is advisable to call a professional plumbing company to deal with any clogs that you encounter as soon as you notice them because they will only worsen over time.
Read more about Drainage Problems and What To Watch Out For