9 Common Causes of Clogged Drains and How to Prevent Them

Clogs are one of the main reasons people have to call a plumber. Whether in the kitchen sink, bathtub, or toilet, having a clogged drain can be a significant disruption. Clogs are not just inconvenient. Clogs can cause flooding, corrosion, and even sewage backups in more severe cases.

Plumbing clogs are most often caused by what we allow to go down our drains. By recognizing the common causes of clogged drains, you can prevent damage and costly repairs to your plumbing system. 

Nine Common Causes of Household Clogs

1. Fats, Oils, and Grease

Many people pour small amounts of cooking fats and grease down their kitchen drains each day. Although these substances may appear harmless, they begin to coat the walls of pipes and eventually combine with other debris to create tough clogs. The easiest way to prevent this problem is to collect used cooking grease in a jar or can and dispose of it in your household trash.

2. Food Scraps

Never put large amounts of food scraps down your drain, even one equipped with a garbage disposal. Most household garbage disposals can only handle small amounts of food scraps. Some food waste, including coffee grounds, eggshells, pasta, rice, and fibrous fruits and vegetables, should never be placed down a garbage disposal. Consider composting large food scraps rather than putting them in your household trash. 

3. Soap 

Animal fat derivatives are a component of most commercially manufactured bar soaps. The fat mixes with the minerals in water and forms soap scum. Excessive amounts of soap scum are hard to remove from bathroom surfaces and can even cause drain pipes to clog. If your bar soap is leaving behind visible soap scum, consider switching to liquid soap or a bar made without animal fats.

4. Hair

Human and pet hair can form clogs by binding with grease and other sticky substances that wash down your drains. Installing drain covers in showers and bathtubs helps keep as much hair as possible from going down them. Consider bathing pets outdoors whenever possible.

5. Mineral Buildup

Mineral deposits can collect along pipe walls if your home has hard water. Water hardness refers to the amount of dissolved calcium, magnesium, and other naturally occurring minerals in the water supply. Hydro jetting is an effective way to remove mineral deposits and other blockages. Installing a water softener system prevents hard water issues.

6. Flushing Trash

Unfortunately, many people treat their toilets like trash cans. Never flush diapers, paper towels, dental floss, feminine hygiene products, cat litter, or other trash. Only flush human waste and reasonable amounts of toilet paper. Keep a trash can next to toilets to make it easy to dispose of trash properly.

7. Wipes

A leading cause of stubborn clogs is disposal wipes. Never flush baby wipes, makeup wipes, or cleaning wipes. Place even so-called “flushable” wipes in the trash, not the toilet. Most wipes do not dissolve and can form tough clogs inside toilets, drain pipes, sewer lines, and municipal water treatment centers.

8. Foreign Objects

Anyone with children has likely had a toy or other stray item dropped down a toilet or bathtub drain. Any object small enough to fit down a drain is still probably big enough to get caught in a pipe’s u-bend. These objects can cause an obstruction and lead to a serious clog. The best way to prevent this is to install drain covers to protect sinks, showers, and bathtub drains. 

9. Tree Roots

If you have more than one drain clogged simultaneously, there is likely a clog somewhere inside your sewer line. Invasive tree roots are a common cause of clogs in underground pipes. Tree roots can grow in small leaks or cracks in sewer lines. As roots grow inside pipes, they can cause a complete blockage or pipe rupture. Hydro jet cleaning can clear minor tree root clogs.  Plant trees and other large vegetation well away from underground pipes and regularly inspect for signs of sewer line problems.

When to Invest in Drain Cleaning Services

It’s essential to keep your drains in good condition to prevent clogs and blockages. Most drain clogs form over time as waste from grease, hair, soap scum, and other items stick to pipe walls. If you discover one of your drains is draining slower than it used to, it’s a good indication that a clog is forming. If you have slow-moving drains or foul odors coming from your drains, it’s time to call a professional plumber for assistance. 

Call the Trusted Plumbing Professionals in Los Gatos

If you’re experiencing clogs or other plumbing issues, call Simply Green Plumbing, Sewer & Rooter (408) 716-1686, or contact us online to schedule an appointment. Our experienced technicians have over 30 years of plumbing experience, and they are ready to help you with all of your plumbing problems, no matter how big or small.

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