Clogged Drains: Causes, Fixes, and Prevention

If your drain is clogged, you’ll need to arm yourself with a few simple tools and get to fixing it right away. Doing this doesn’t require any specialized skills. Therefore, as long as there are no complications, you should be able to get rid of that clog in a jiffy.

However, this problem should make you think about the importance of clog prevention. You might need to make a few changes to your routine house maintenance and some habits if you want to avoid more serious problems than clogged drains.

Why Is Your Drain Clogged?

The first thing you should do if your sink won’t drain properly, is trying to understand what exactly the problem is. A clogged drain is a common problem that can happen in any home. The most common causes of those clogs, depending on the location of the drains, are:

  • Oil, grease, fat (they coat the insides of pipes and make them sticky)
  • Soap (also adds to the buildup inside the pipes)
  • Hair
  • Dirt
  • Food particles
  • Objects that should not be flushed
  • Diapers, wipes, personal hygiene products, etc.
  • Cat litter
  • Too much toilet paper

Note that the buildup on the insides of pipes often “catches” food particles, hair, and small debris. Therefore, while the things that go down the drain in a single flush aren’t enough to create a clog, they can get stuck and attract more of the same. Eventually, this will result in a clogged pipe.

How to Unclog a Drain Fast

You might have heard that the easiest way to unclog a drain is by using baking soda and vinegar. However, that’s hardly an effective solution because the “potency” of that mix isn’t high enough to deal with a big clog.

Instead, you should use specialized tools like a snake or an unclogging tool to physically remove the obstruction. You can use a guide with video to see exactly how it’s done. But in essence, you remove the trap and use the tool pushing it down the drain to remove whatever is in the way. Clean the trap before putting it back on.

Put everything back together and run hot water down the pipes for about 5 minutes. Now you can use the baking soda and vinegar solution or some specialized chemical drain cleanser. This will help cleanse the pipe and reduce the risk of it clogging again.

That risk is something you should be very concerned over because while unclogging a drain is easy, this problem can potentially lead to others. Clogged drains and pipes might cause structural damage to your plumbing system. This can result in leaks and other issues that are much more expensive to fix.

For example, clogs often cause cracks in pipes and the cost of fixing that can be $1,169 and more. A cracked and leaking pipe might also cause water damage and mold. Those can, essentially, ruin your home completely and make it impossible to sell even if you use the best property value boosting tricks.

Therefore, preventing clogs should be your priority.

How to Prevent Clogged Drains and Future Problems

  • Always use a screen or drain grate and cleat it regularly.
    You can buy those easily in any store that offers basic plumbing supplies. You should take a picture of your drain system and measure the drain itself beforehand so the shop assistants can help you choose fitting fixtures.
  • Never pour cooking grease down the drain.
    You shouldn’t flush it down the toilet either. The best thing to do is to pour it into a milk carton or some other disposable container and throw it away with the trash.
  • Compost coffee grounds and tea leaves.
    Composting at home is great for the environment, states the Environmental Protection Agency. Therefore, doing this is a good idea by default. If you choose to go through with this plan, you should dispose of ground coffee and tea leaves by adding them to the compost heap. And even if you don’t compost, throw them away with the trash instead of flushing them from cups down the drain.
  • Clean your drains regularly.
    You shouldn’t wait for drains to clog before using the baking soda and vinegar solution or some basic products designed for drain unclogging. Use them every three months or so simply to clean your drains and pipes from the inevitable buildup. In this particular case, the milder homemade baking soda and vinegar solution will work better.
    Also, run hot water down the drain for a few minutes after every major washing up session.

Even with regular care, you might not be able to prevent clogs completely, especially if the house and plumbing systems are old. Therefore, you should always be on the lookout for any drainage problems. As soon as you notice that water doesn’t flush as fast as it should, clean the drain right away. Do not wait for it to get completely blocked because by that time the risk of cracked pipes will be much higher.

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