Most of us don’t go about our days thinking about drainage pipes. However, that can easily change once plumbing problems start to arise in our homes. You might notice your sink constantly pooling up, you might start hearing a gurgling sound from your pipes and, one day, you might even find a growing puddle of water on the bathroom floor. Next thing you know, you’re calling an emergency plumber to keep your home from getting flooded.
Unfortunately, blocked drains are a common problem that most homes will face. Sometimes they only cause minor inconveniences, other times they cause serious damage to your property. Because of this, it’s good to be educated on the common causes of blocked drains.
1. Natural causes
One of the main natural causes of blocked drains are tree roots. Since tree roots are drawn to moisture, they will be attracted to plumbing. As a result, if your drainage pipes have cracks in them, roots can find their way into your plumbing and block the water or waste flow. Even if the roots somehow don’t make it inside the pipes, their growth can still cause the pipes to become misaligned or deformed.
If you live in an area that’s full of trees and plants, it’s a good idea to get a plumber to perform a video inspection of your drainage system every few years. This will help you identify and resolve a root problem before it worsens.
Additional blockage risks to look out for are leaves, rocks and dirt. When enough debris finds its way into your storm drain, it can easily cause a blockage. To prevent this, make sure you clear your yard regularly. As convenient as it may seem, always avoid washing the debris down the drain.
It’s easy to just lump in oil with the rest of the fluids that you wash down your drain. However, oil can dry and solidify when it cools, creating a partial blockage in your pipes.
It’s important to note that oil can be found in various foods like butter and the fat trimmings from a piece of meat. When disposing of foods like this, be sure to throw the leftovers in the bin instead.
Even if you’re disposing of solid foods that may not have a large amount of oil content, you should still be careful about washing them down the drain. Those little solid bits of food can accumulate and eventually cause a blockage. It is possible to shred the food so that it can flow with the water. However, it’s best to just dispose of such foods in a waste bin as even shredded solids can accumulate.
3. Non-biodegradable toiletries
Toilet paper, paper towels and wet wipes might seem like they can all be flushed down the toilet. If you’re not careful, however, these products can cause serious blockages.
Most drainage systems are designed to handle biodegradable toilet paper and human waste. Other non-biodegradable objects like wet wipes and paper towels cannot be broken down by the water in most drainage systems. As a result, they will accumulate in pipes and eventually cause a blockage.
When buying toiletries, you should also be wary of wipes being advertised as ‘flushable’. Oftentimes, ‘flushable’ just means it can fit in the drainage pipes, but they don’t actually break down once they reach the main lines. Other things to avoid flushing down are women’s hygiene products like tampons.
An accumulation of hair can quickly clog up your shower drain. You might notice slow draining or even backups. If you brush your hair near your vanity, such clogging problems can also occur in your sink.
To avoid this, you can get a drain screen that prevents strings of hair from clogging up your drain. You should also clean your sink and shower floors regularly to ensure the strands aren’t washed down the drain. If you need to clean your hairbrush, make sure to do it over a rubbish bin.
5. Pipe corrosion
Corrosion within pipes can occur due to water turbulence or high oxygen levels. Rust and corrosion products tend to build up within the inner lining of the pipes. Not only do they cause partial blockage, they also reduce the pipes ability to transfer heat and increase the pressure drop of the flowing water.
Common ways to prevent this issue is to keep your pipes clean and ensure that the water’s pH levels are regulated. That being said, it’s best to consult a plumber if you feel that your drainage pipes are suffering from pipe scale or corrosion. Having the issues properly diagnosed will prevent the issue from worsening.
That was just a short list of the most common causes of clogged drains. By keeping these pointers in mind, you should be able to significantly reduce the risk of blockage. In the long run, this could save you a lot of money on repairs and maintenance costs.