Causes of Clogged Drains

Have you ever wondered why your drains seem to clog up so frequently? Is it possible that there are underlying causes beyond just a simple blockage?

In this article, we will explore the truth behind the various theories surrounding clogged drains. From tree roots infiltrating your pipes to the accumulation of fat, oil, and grease, we will delve into the common causes and offer effective solutions.

But that’s not all – we’ll also uncover the impact of aging materials, freezing temperatures, and objects lodged in drains.

So, if you’re tired of dealing with clogged drains and want to understand the root causes, keep reading to discover the answers you’ve been searching for.

Key Takeaways

  • Tree roots, flushable wipes, feminine hygiene products, fat, oil, and grease buildup, and hair accumulation are common causes of clogged drains.
  • Aging materials, freezing temperatures, nature infiltration, object blockages, and improper sizing and pitch of drainage pipes can impact the drainage system.
  • Inappropriate items like cat litter and dog waste should not be flushed or drained, and separate systems for wastewater and stormwater drainage should be maintained.
  • Signs of drain clogs include water spraying or standing in sinks, slow drainage, water overflowing from toilets or sewer lines, and clogged drainage systems causing damage. Regular maintenance and proper disposal practices are essential to prevent further damage and costly repairs.

1. Tree Root Invasion

Tree root invasion is a common cause of clogged drains and can lead to significant damage to plumbing systems. When trees are planted near water and sewer mains, their roots can grow and infiltrate the pipes in search of water and nutrients. These roots can enter through small cracks or joints in the pipes, and over time, they can expand and cause blockages. As the roots continue to grow, they can exert pressure on the pipes, causing them to crack or collapse. This can result in costly repairs and disruptions to your plumbing system.

root invasion as cause of clogged drains

It is important to be aware of the signs of tree root invasion in your drains. If you notice slow drainage, gurgling sounds, or recurring clogs, it could be an indication of tree roots in your pipes. In such cases, it’s crucial to take immediate action to prevent further damage. One effective solution is to use a rooter or hydro-jetting machine to clear the roots from the pipes. Applying root-killing chemicals can help to inhibit the growth of roots and prevent future blockages.

2. Flushable Wipes

Here are a few reasons why flushable wipes can lead to clogs:

  • They don’t break down

Unlike toilet paper, flushable wipes are made from materials that don’t easily dissolve in water. This means that even though they may go down the drain, they can get caught in pipes and accumulate over time, leading to blockages.

flushable wipes for clogged drains
  • They can tangle with other debris

Flushable wipes can easily get entangled with other items in your plumbing system, such as hair or grease. This combination can create a stubborn clog that’s difficult to remove.

  • They can cause damage to your pipes

The durability of flushable wipes can be a disadvantage when it comes to your pipes. As the wipes accumulate, they can put pressure on your pipes, causing them to crack or burst.

To avoid the hassle and expense of a clogged drain, it’s best to dispose of flushable wipes in the trash instead of flushing them. By taking this simple precaution, you can keep your plumbing system running smoothly and avoid potential plumbing emergencies.

3. Feminine Hygiene Products

Feminine hygiene products, such as tampons and pads, aren’t designed to break down in water like toilet paper does. They can easily get caught in the pipes, causing obstructions and backups. When you flush these products, they can accumulate in the plumbing system, leading to costly repairs and inconvenience.

To avoid clogs caused by feminine hygiene products, it’s best to wrap them in toilet paper or place them in a small disposal bag before throwing them in the trash. This will help prevent them from getting stuck in your pipes and causing blockages.

4. Fat, Oil, and Grease Buildup

Clogged drains can often be attributed to the buildup of fat, oil, and grease in your plumbing system. When you pour grease or oil down the drain, it may seem harmless at first, but over time it can solidify and create a sticky residue that traps other debris and causes clogs.

clogged drains

Here are three important points to consider regarding fat, oil, and grease buildup:

  1. Improper disposal

Pouring oil or grease down the drain is a common mistake many people make. It’s important to remember that these substances should be disposed of properly, such as by allowing them to cool and then placing them in a sealed container for the trash.

  1. Accumulation over time

Even small amounts of fat, oil, and grease can accumulate over time and create a thick layer inside your pipes. This can restrict the flow of water and lead to clogs.

  1. Prevention is key

To prevent fat, oil, and grease buildup, consider using strainers or filters in your kitchen sink to catch any food particles. Additionally, wipe greasy dishes with a paper towel before washing them to remove excess oil.

5. Hair Accumulation

Hair accumulation in your drains can lead to clogs and blockages in your plumbing system. As you shower or brush your hair, loose strands can easily find their way into the drain. Over time, these strands can accumulate and form a tangled mass that restricts the flow of water. The more hair that gets trapped in your drains, the more likely it’s for a clog to occur.

Regularly cleaning your drains is also essential. You can use a drain snake or a mixture of baking soda and vinegar to break up any hair or debris that may have accumulated. It’s important to avoid using chemical drain cleaners, as they can be harsh on your pipes and potentially cause more harm than good.

6. Aging Pipes and Soil Erosion

As pipes age and soil erodes, the integrity of your drainage system can be compromised, leading to potential clogs and blockages. The combination of aging pipes and soil erosion can have significant impacts on the functionality of your plumbing system. 

Here are some key points to consider:

  • Weakened pipes

Over time, pipes made from materials like clay or cast iron can deteriorate, resulting in cracks, leaks, and collapses. These weakened pipes are more susceptible to clogs and blockages caused by debris and sediment.

  • Shifting and sagging

Soil erosion can cause the ground around your pipes to shift and sag, putting pressure on the pipes and potentially causing them to become misaligned or disconnected. This can restrict the flow of water and lead to blockages.

  • Increased debris accumulation

Eroded soil can enter the pipes and cause a buildup of sediment and debris. This accumulation can restrict the flow of water and contribute to clogs.

It is important to address these issues proactively to prevent further damage to your drainage system. Regular plumbing inspections and maintenance can help identify any signs of aging pipes or soil erosion, allowing you to take timely action and avoid costly repairs down the line.

7. Freezing Temperatures

When the winter months arrive, freezing temperatures can pose a significant threat to the integrity of your drainage system. As the temperature drops, water inside your pipes can freeze and expand, putting immense pressure on the pipes. This pressure can cause the pipes to crack, rupture, or even burst, leading to clogs and blockages in your drains.

One of the most common areas where freezing temperatures can cause problems is in outdoor pipes and drains. These pipes are more exposed to the cold weather and are at a higher risk of freezing. If your outdoor drains become clogged with ice, water won’t be able to flow freely, resulting in backups and potential damage to your drainage system.

If you do experience a clogged drain due to freezing temperatures, it’s important to address the issue promptly. You can try using hot water or a hairdryer to thaw the ice and unclog the drain. Learn more here about winter plumbing tips

8. Keep The Professionals’ Number Handy

Make sure to have the contact information of a reliable professional plumber in Maryland and Delaware readily available. While there are some DIY methods that you can try to clear clogged drains, there are instances when you’ll need the expertise of a professional. 

Having the contact information of a reliable professional plumber on hand can save you time, money, and unnecessary stress. So, make sure to keep their number handy for any plumbing emergencies or persistent clogs that require professional attention.