Pipe Dreams – 5 Common Causes of Blocked Drains and How You Can Fix (And Prevent) Them

blocked drainPhoto: Skitterphoto/Pixabay

A blocked drain may seem like a minor inconvenience, but if left untreated, it can lead to some pretty costly repairs. When a drain becomes clogged, it can cause slow water flow, corrosion, flooding, and in the most severe instances, sewage backup.

There are many reasons clogged drains happen, and preventing them starts with understanding what causes them in the first place. Keep reading to find out the most common causes of blocked drains and what you can do to treat and prevent them.

#1 Cause of Blocked Drains – Hair

Hair is probably the most common reason for blocked drains. Hair combines with grease and other sticky substances to form tight blockages that stop the flow of water. The best way to deal with hair blockages in your drains is to stop them before they start. Install screen drain protectors to catch hair and other substances before they have a chance to become a problem. Be sure to clear these screens regularly to keep water flowing freely.

#2 Cause of Blocked Drains – Soap Scum

It may be hard to believe that soap could be a problem for your drains, but the reality is soap is made with fat which, when combined with the minerals found in most water supplies, forms a residue known as soap scum. Over time, this residue accumulates, causing blocked drains. To rid your pipes of soap scum, use soap products sparingly and have your pipes pressure cleaned to remove all traces of residue.

#3 Cause of Blocked Drains – Dirt

While your bathtub and washing machine are designed to wash away dirt, allowing excess grime to travel down your drains is just asking for trouble. Dirt, when combined with water, turns to mud. Over time, mud can build up in your pipes and cause a clog that’s difficult to treat.

If there is excess dirt on your person, be sure to shake or brush it off outside before taking a shower or washing your clothes. If your drains do become clogged with dirt, you can try a chemical drain cleaner to remove it. If that doesn’t work, you’ll probably need to snake the drain or call a plumber.

#4 Cause of Blocked Drains – Food

Even if you have a garbage disposal, you should never put food waste down the drain. Some foods don’t break down well (tea leaves and coffee grounds, for example), and other foods can solidify and cause clogs (grease).

Your best bet for getting rid of food waste is to start a compost bin. Almost anything edible can go into a compost bin, including that grease from last night’s supper. Simply absorb the grease with an unbleached paper towel and toss it in the bin.

#5 Cause of Blocked Drains – Hard Water

Minerals in hard water can build up over time, creating a solid clog that’s difficult to remove. If you have hard water, it’s a good idea to install a water softener – not just to keep water flowing freely through your home’s plumbing, but also to save the life of all the appliances in your home that require water. Minerals can build up in them as well, shortening their life spans drastically. If you have hard water and notice that your pressure seems lower and the flow slower than normal, it’s likely mineral buildup that will require descaling by a professional plumber.

Now that you know the most common causes of blocked drains, it should be easier to treat and prevent them in the future.

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