While water and waste plumbing has been around since about 2,700 B.C. during the Indus Valley Civilization, the Romans ‘perfected’ historical drainage and plumbing systems with the introduction of aqueducts, tile wastewater removal, and lead pipes. It’s safe to say that plumbing has been around for a while and that it’s been driving us mad ever since. Today, drains are an essential yet often overlooked aspect of our lives. From pipes that serve as water sources for our homes to the drains in our showers that take the soap away. However, sometimes (read: always) they get clogged, causing a huge inconvenience in the form of disgusting scummy water and expensive plumber visits. From accidental foreign objects being thrown in the toilet by a toddler to a heavy buildup of hair in the shower, there are a seemingly endless amount of ways your drains can get clogged. Here are some of the most common types of clogs and some pretty cool ways of clearing them.
Hair buildup is one of the more common and visible causes of clogged drains. Hair naturally falls off the body during showers, accumulating in the drain. Although it's fairly easy to remove the hair with a hanger or other tool, the more accumulation of hair that happens, the more long-term damage the drain will sustain.
How To Clear a Drain Clogged by Hair:
Hair can be removed, in small quantities, by pulling it out manually with gloved hands, a hanger, or other store-bought device like a plumbers snake. For a more serious clog, or one that’s too deep for your to reach (or you literally do not want to see what’s pulled up with a hanger/snake), you can use a baking soda/vinegar combination. Pour one cup of baking soda down the drain. Wait a few minutes before pouring down 1 cup of vinegar. Once the foaming subsides, flush the drain with some hot water.
Clogging from soap buildup typically occurs in indoor drains such as laundry, showers, or bathrooms. These types of drains endure a lot of daily abuse, enduring a nearly consistent flow of soap. As soap is consistently carried down the drain, it will eventually accumulate on the pipe walls. Although a gradual effect, once the drain pipe diameter is reduced by the buildup, the clog can cause the water to back up very suddenly.
How To Clear a Drain Clogged with Soap Scum:
You can clear soap scum from your drains with a few options: hot water, baking soda and vinegar, or ammonia. If you flush your drain with these items, it’ll chip away at buildup and allow the backed up water to recede.
Food & Grease Buildup
Kitchen sinks deal with many elements, from grease to paper to food. Similar to soap buildup, grease buildup is caused by gradual accumulation of grease in the pipes. When grease is carried down kitchen sink pipes, it's typically paired with hot water from rinsing dishes which allows for it to glide smoothly down the drain. However, once the grease cools, it sticks to the pipe walls and dramatically reduces the amount of water able to run through the drain. Grease buildup develops at a much faster rate than soap buildup, due to its viscous nature.
Food can also cause some considerable clogging in your drains. Thick foods like pasta, rice, potatoes, coffee grounds, and eggshells can cause major trouble for drains.
How To Clear A Drain Clogged with Grease:
First, try to not wash fatty greases or chunky foods down the drain as much as possible. Clearing a grease-borne clogged drain is similar to clearing a drain caused by soap buildup – take a 1:1 ratio of boiling hot water and vinegar. The vinegar acts like a harsh cleaning chemical without all of the, you know, harmful cleaning chemicals. The boiling water simply helps to heat up the congealed grease and allows it to be flushed away easier.
For one reason or another, toiletries often end up being flushed down the toilet, causing major blockage in pipes and sewers. Baby wipes, feminine hygiene products, and paper towels are among the most common and can cause the most damage, as these products absorb the water quickly and expand, swiftly blocking access to water drains and pipes.
How To Clear a Drain Clogged by Toiletries:
Flushing toiletries down the toilet is not friendly to the environment and should be avoided at all costs. You should dispose of these objects in a more appropriate way by throwing them into the garbage to avoid unwanted, particularly nasty clogs. However, if you fall victim to a drain clogged by one of these products, you should can use a plunger (just be sure to get the right plunger for the type of drain/toilet you have) or a plumber’s snake.
Some things are seemingly unavoidable accidents. Whether it’s your toddler giving their toys swimming lessons or a lipstick accidentally falling off the counter, foreign objects sometimes end up in the toilet. If these foreign objects are flushed, they are likely to cause problems for your drain and water flow.
How To Clear a Drain Clogged by Foreign Objects:
Although somewhat unavoidable, try to keep children away from the toilet as best as you can. Also, keep an eye out for anything in a precarious position that may be at risk of falling in and remember to never flush anything down the toilet if it falls in. Similar to clogs caused by toiletries, clogs caused by foreign objects can be cleared with a plunger (again, remember to get the right one for your needs) or a plumber’s snake.
How to tell if your drain is clogged:
As you’re unfortunately well aware of, clogs can develop in any part of the plumbing system and be caused by a variety of elements. Some clogs are easier to spot than others, but it's important to know what signs to look for so you can catch and fix the problem before it escalates into something very expensive. Some of those signs include:
- Water or sewage backing up in a toilet, sink or bathtub
- Gurgling noises as other plumbing functions happen, such as the water flowing out of a faucet
- The shower, tub, or sink drains slowly
- There’s poor pressure in the system, resulting in a weak toilet flush or light stream from the faucet
- A foul odor coming from the drain
- The water-dependent utilities react to one another, such as the toilet malfunctioning when the washer is being used
Although unfortunate and inconvenient, clogged drains are a natural part of, well, modern plumbing. However, knowing what to look out for and treating your drains accordingly will fend off nasty clogged drains and prevent more serious damage that may need professional attention.
Clearing drains is never fun and can be avoided by being proactive and taking preventative measures.
Here at the TubShroom company, we envision a world where the need to use harmful, drain-clearing chemicals is completely eliminated. They are corrosive and a health risk to yourself, your family, your pets, and to our environment.
We are so committed to making this a reality that we’ve developed a range of products suited for virtually every possible type of drain in your home. We have the TubShroom for your bathtub drains, SinkShroom for your bathroom sinks, and ShowerShroom to protect shower stall drains. Each of these solutions is a chemical-free preventative solution to a clogged drain. What makes these drain protectors so special (aside from being infinitely safer than commercial drain cleaners), is that they are incredible simple to install and clean. They slide right into any standard tub, sink, and shower drain. Just as simple as they are to install, they’re just as easy to clean. Simply pull out it out and wipe away the debris with a paper towel. Done!
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