Paul's Plumbing Tips

What Causes Clogged Drains, and How to Address Them

When your home's sinks or bathtub drains get clogged, you may assume that it's just hair or food caught in the stopper; this can certainly be true, but this isn't the only reason for such clogs. It's good to understand this, because it's good to do everything you can to avoid those clogs in the first place. Too many clogs can actually damage your home's plumbing pipes, and of course there is the expense of having them cleared by a plumber. Note a few things that can cause clogged drains so you know how to avoid them.


Cooking oils or body oils may easily clog a drain, since oil and water don't mix; those oils separate from the water in the drain and may not be washed through the pipes completely. Also, note that grease of any sort can solidify once in the pipes and then trap solid materials, also leading to clogs. Use body oils after a shower, not in the shower, and never dump cooking oils or used grease down the kitchen sink; instead, store these in a coffee can with a lid, and put them in the rubbish.


Gritty materials may not wash through your home's plumbing pipes completely, as they may cling to any residual oil or solid materials in the pipes, eventually causing a clog. These gritty materials can include coffee grounds or exfoliating substances put in body washes. To avoid clogs, avoid using these types of washes in the shower; as with oils and grease from the kitchen, put old coffee grounds in a coffee tin or other receptacle and then add them to the trash.

Solid Items

You never want to put anything in a drain or the toilet that doesn't break down quickly and easily; this includes items you might think can be flushed or drained, such as facial tissue, cigarette butts, or human hair. While these types of items may eventually break down, the time it takes for them to dissolve in water can allow other waste in your home's plumbing pipes to build up and cause a clog. Never put anything in the toilet other than human waste and toilet tissue, and never put anything in the kitchen sink other than food scraps.

Note, too, that it's good to have your home's plumbing pipes professionally cleaned on a regular basis; a plumber can use a special type of air blast or heavy-duty snake to remove any built-up waste or soap scum, so the pipes are always clear and you reduce the risk of your home suffering a clog.