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Blocked Drains – Top Causes and Best Fixes

blocked drainsHome owners will get to experience clogged drains or any similar blockage within their home. This can be a very big problem because they can cause inconveniences, become very costly to fix and even pose a health threat when left alone.

Following are five of the top causes of blocked drains and the best ways to fix them, even without using any chemical drain cleaner.

blocked drains causes and fixes

1. Clogged drains caused by trees and leaves

Clogged drains caused by trees and leaves

Autumn can be a very problematic season for home owners because this will be a time when leaves will start to fall. Most people think that the leaves only end up in their gardens or yards but sometimes they end up in streets and when rain comes in, the rainwater pushes the leaves down into the drain. When they accumulate enough to become a big solid mass, they will eventually clog up your drainage system. Tree roots can also block the nearest source of water and when they’re big enough, they can wrap themselves around pipes and even cause it to crack. In rare instances, tree roots can even get inside the pipes and grow from within, causing major blockage.

How do you fix this?
When any outdoor drain is clogged with leaves, scoop the mess away with a shovel and use a wet-dry vacuum to clean up the drain. The suction from the vacuum will suck in the leaf debris through the grates of the drain cover and whatever is left can be easily washed away with water. But prevention is often better than cure. Some plumbers recommend using a drain guard or gutter guard. This works similar to a big filter in your kitchen sink, but this one’s intended for the streets. When rainwater comes in, the leaves will not go directly to the drainage because of the drain guard. Instead, they’ll accumulate by the entrance because the guard’s filters are too small for them to fit in. You still need to regularly clean your drain guards afterwards. In worst case scenarios, the clog can be located so deep into the pipes that it will be difficult for the plumber to get rid of the blockage. Plumbers often resort to high-pressure drain cleaning wherein they use sophisticated water jets that sprays water up to 4,000PSI to get rid of sediments, debris, and obstructions. This is also referred to as hydro-jetting and plumbers use different kinds of nozzles/hose heads to get the job done.

2. Clogged sink due to grease and fat

We love to cook and that’s a fact, but grease and fat just so happens to be the second cause of blocked drains. Fatty substances that are washed down the drains don’t go down easy because they stick to the insides of the pipe. They eventually build up to the extent that no more liquid or small debris can pass through. Kitchen sinks experiencing this problem will eventually notice this problem when it takes quite a long time for the water to drain.

How do you fix this?
Bathroom sinks and kitchen sinks are similar in nature, and thus they can also be fixed the same way. You can start by running hot water through the sink, followed by a dollop of dish detergent, and then add more hot water. Use a plunger and then pour in some more hot water. When all else fails, use a chemical drain cleaner. They work 100% of the time, but you have to be very careful. In the future, you can prevent large amounts of grease and fat solidifying inside your pipe by letting them solidify outside. Scrape the mess and place them inside a plastic bag and throw them out with the garbage. This should leave you with small amounts of oil, fat, and grease that can be diluted easily with hot water. This is one of the most common causes of all, yet it is also one of the easiest to prevent. Any fatty substances which are washed down the sinks will stick to the inside of the pipes, eventually building up so much that no more liquid can pass through. This can be easily avoided by keeping a watchful eye over the liquids which you do decide to wash away. If the problem is persistent despite using a chemical drain cleaner, consult with a plumber because you may be facing more than one cause of blocked drains.

3. How to unclog a tub filled with hairHow to unclog a tub filled with hair

Hair, despite its size, can become a big problem for a lot of home owners. While there are devices that can prevent hair from entering the pipes, hair that eventually goes in your pipes can end up clogging your pipe when they turn into a huge mass of hairball. This reminds me of the time my cat’s incessant need to cough up his hairballs.

How do you fix this?
A drain stopper is your best tool for preventing hair from entering the pipes. Much like the kitchen sink, you can use hot water and dish detergent to wash away the accumulated mass of hair. Drain stoppers may also need to be cleaned out every now and then.

4. How to unclog a drain blocked by foreign objects

Blocked drains can also be the result of foreign objects getting lodged inside the pipe and children are often the culprit when their toys or any item is flushed down the toilet. Aside from toilet paper, soaps, and baby wipes, you can also find other things like small pillows, some figurines, and the remote control flushed down the toilet.

How do you fix this?

Foreign objects can be difficult to fix because you don’t really know what you’re dealing with. When drain cleaners and plungers don’t work, it’s time you use a plumber’s secret weapon. This is called a Drain Auger, or what’s commonly known as a snake. This is a tool that looks like a coiled spiral snake that’s about ¼-inch think with a handle on one end. It works the opposite version of a plunger because you push the snake into the clog and crank it to drive the snake farther into the obstruction. When the parts of the clog break up into smaller pieces that can fit into the drain, the snake will be able to hook into the obstruction so you can it out. there are some snakes that you can use as an attachment to an electric drill so you have more force when you dig through a clog.

5. Snaking a toilet clogged by toiletries

Toilet papers, baby wipes, and wet wipes are common objects found in blocked drains and even though they are number five on the list, they still pose a bigger threat than most of the items listed above. Worst case scenario is when these items eventually end up in sewers and causing another blockage. Though wet wipe manufacturers market their products as toilet-friendly, this doesn’t mean that they are sewer-friendly. Sure you can flush them down the toilet, but they won’t go down easy in the sewers. Some sewage specialists often see a mountain of toiletries in sewage and they’ve become difficult to clean up after.

How do you fix this?
The plunger is often the first line of defence for removing toiletries from toilets. You can also use a snake to remove the obstructions. To prevent clogs from happening, it’s best to dispose your toiletries in trash bins instead of the toilet, even though manufacturers advertise them to be toilet-friendly.

Blocked drains can be problematic because they require a lot of work and when things go wrong, they often go from bad to worse in the blink of an eye. Since these can become costlier to fix very quickly, you are often best of to hire a professional plumber right away. After all, we’re trained to deal with all kinds blocked drains.


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