Drain clogs can happen in any home, sometimes seemingly without any warning signs. Many homeowners aren't aware that drain clogs come in many forms, although this makes sense when you think about all the things that might go down your drains on a daily basis.
To properly address drain clogs in your home, you will need to understand the most common causes of clogs and the ways you can prevent and remove each one. Here is an introduction to four common types of drain clogs.
1. Hair and Animal Fur
Hair and animal fur are notorious clog-causers, especially in bathroom drains. Hair creates clogs easily because it sticks to grime inside your pipes and slowly becomes more wadded and entangled. Normal use of your bathtub and shower will inevitably subject the drain to hair, but you can reduce the problem with a drain cover or mesh and by bathing pets outside.
Manual removal with a drain snake is usually the most effective way to remove hair from drains. However, bleach may also provide results. Hair and fur are slightly acidic, while bleach is basic. This means bleach can cause a neutralizing reaction to dissolve hair in your drains without damaging your pipes.
2. Oil and Grease
Kitchen sink clogs vary widely thanks to the variety of foods, beverages, and waste products that go down the drain in the kitchen. Oil and grease top this list when it comes to the potential to cause clogs. These substances may be liquids at first, but a clog can appear suddenly when oil or grease cools and hardens inside your plumbing.
Fats, oils, and grease can easily fall into the kitchen sink drain when your kitchen is bustling at dinner time. If this occurs, the best option is to leave hot water running in the sink, and then follow it up with a cup each of baking soda and vinegar. The neutralizing reaction of baking soda and vinegar is often strong enough to break down clogs made of solid fats.
3. Soap Scum
Surprisingly, soap can contribute to drain clogs because many soaps are manufactured using vegetable or animal fats. Soap contains fatty acids that react with minerals like calcium and magnesium in your home's water to form soap scum in your drains.
Soap scum drain clogs have similar properties to clogs composed of fats, oils, and grease. However, soap scum is not as stubborn as food-based fats. In most cases, running boiling water down your drains right away can discourage soap scum buildup. Do this occasionally for your bathroom sinks and after every shower or bath for your bathtub drain.
4. Calcium Buildup
In addition to reacting with soap to form soap scum, calcium in your home's water can cause clogs directly by lining the inner walls of your plumbing. Homes that struggle with hard water may see frequent clogs in multiple drains throughout the home. A DIY water hardness testing kit can confirm if hard water is a problem in your home.
Removing calcium-based clogs is a job best left to professionals. A plumber can flush your home's plumbing with a solution designed to remove calcium and install a water softener if necessary to prevent calcium clogs in the future. Avoid using commercial cleaners for calcium removal; even chemical cleaners that are advertised to dissolve calcium are bad for the environment and can damage your pipes.
Drain clogs can certainly be a nuisance, but each type generally has an easy fix. Try these tips to defeat common drain clogs in different areas of your home. If you are still struggling with a stubborn clog, contact a local plumbing contractor to identify the cause of the clog and find the right solution. Go to websites for plumbing companies to learn more.