Most Common Causes of Clogged Drains and How to Prevent Them

Although clogged drains and blocked pipes usually start as a minor problem, typically manifesting only as slow shower or sink drainage, when plumbing is concerned, small issues easily escalate into big problems. A clogged drain causes corrosion, flooding, and, in some cases, sewer backup and costly repairs. Homeowners can prevent these by understanding what causes drain clogs and adjusting the way they use the plumbing fixtures in their homes.


The problem with hair is that it easily binds with grease and other sticky substances, creating tangles that easily become clogs. Although the problem is usually associated with long hair, even short hair can build up in the drain pipe this way. The best way to prevent this is to use drain guards that not only catch hair but small objects such as jewellery as well. Chemical drain cleaners dissolve hair, but keep in mind that they are highly toxic to the environment, especially water ecosystems, so it’s always better to use a plumber’s snake or hydro-jets.


Although bottled bath products are made with formulas that dissolve grease, traditional, and much more environmentally-friendly soap bars are actually made with grease or fat. The fat in the soap binds with minerals in the water, leaving a hard residue known as soap scum that not only stains the fittings but also clogs the pipes below. If the problem persists, you may consider switching to a soap alternative and have your pipes pressure-cleaned.

Cooking grease

Cooking grease, such as that left from frying bacon congeals as it cools down, so pouring it down the drain is one of the worst ways to dispose of it. As it hardens, it attaches to the pipe walls, causing a sticky dam that easily catches hair, food waste, cellulose and other fibrous matter. Chemical drain cleaners are usually sufficient in this case, but for heavier blockages, you need to use a water jet or a plumber’s snake to break them up first. The best remedy is not to pour leftover grease down the drain at all, but to wait for it to cool and throw it in the rubbish.

Tree roots

They are among the biggest causes of blocked drains in suburban areas. Naturally attracted to moisture, tree roots wrap around drain pipes, and even a microscopic crack at the joint is enough for a tiny root sprout to get inside and branch out into a fine network on the pipe’s inner walls. Over time, an intruding root can block the drain line, causing a problem that is hard to solve without a professional plumber’s tools and skills. This is why experts for blocked drains use 4500psi jetting equipment and a range of spinning nozzles and multi-jet head cleaning attachments, as well as air cutting systems for dealing with blockages that withstand the high-pressure water jets.

Natural debris

During heavy storms, plumbing and sewage lines are overloaded with extra rain, as well as leaves, soil and other debris that flushes down the drainpipes or sewer grates. Your best chance of preventing the build-up is to keep your garden as neat as possible and clear your gutters from time to time to remove leaves, dead branches and other debris.

Bathroom toiletries

Personal care products such as makeup wipes, tissues, sanitary pads and dental floss can easily “stick around” in your pipes, causing a blockage. Made of nylon or Teflon, dental floss is tough to break and non-biodegradable, so it often poses a problem for municipal sewage systems as well. Richard Boyd, a district operations supervisor with Toronto Water says that dental floss lumps the size of a softball are known to jam the rotary waste shredders at waste-water treatment plants, leading to a risk of wide-range sewage spills.

If left unattended, flushed items and materials that get lodged into your drain pipes can create a blockage which may come with serious consequences that will be definitely more expensive to deal with than paying someone to professionally clean your drains once in every six months.

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Written by Cooper

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