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Why Do I Have Clogged Drains?

Clogged drains, clogged toilets, backed up sewage are all very nasty, but unfortunately, dealing with them is a fact of life for many homeowners. However, while the occasional clog or backed up sewage pipe is not uncommon, they should not be happening often. If you find that you have to deal with clogged drains or backed up toilets at least once a week, then chances are there is a bigger issue at hand; either you are doing something that is causing the clogs, or there is an issue with the pipes themselves. Here are some of the common causes of clogged drains.

Tree roots

Tree roots are one of the prime culprits when it comes to backed up sewer pipes. Tree roots love to cause damage to pipes. What happens is that as the tree roots grow, they come into contact with sewage pipes. The tree roots either puncture the sewer pipe, or grow around the sewer pipe and cause damage by crushing and cracking the sewer pipe. Either way, this results in damage to the sewer pipe and can result in blockages and clogs. Even if you are proactive and keeps trees off your property, the roots of your neighbour’s trees can cause damage to your pipes. You have two options if tree roots are causing clogs and blockages. You can have your pipes replaced completely. This is an effective solution, but also very expensive and time consuming. Anyone who has had their pipes replaced can testify to just how expensive total pipe replacement is. Not to mention, the fact that the contractors may have to pull up parts of your yard to get at the pipes, which is a major inconvenience. The other solution is to have your pipes relined. Pipe relining is a process where a new lining is pushed into the pipes and then inflated. Pipe relining is less expensive, takes less time, and is just as effective as a total pipe replacement, If you suspect tree roots are causing pipe blockages, call up a licenced plumber ASAP.

Food, fat, and grease

This applies to kitchen drains only (unless you make a habit of throwing grease and fat down your toilet). It is very common for people to dump left over grease or fat down their sink, or wash small pieces of food down the sink (usually the small amount left on the plate). This is a big mistake. Grease and fat get stuck to the inner lining of pipes very easily. They then harden over time. Eventually your pipes become filled with so much hardened grease and fat that they start becoming blocked. Thankfully, avoiding grease and fat buildup in your drains is fairly easy. After you are done cooking, take any excess grease or fat and dump it into a container. Put the container in your fridge and let the grease or fat harden overnight. Then you can simply dump the hardened grease and fat into your trash. Also, make sure you wipe any food scraps off of your plates before you begin cleaning them.


Hair is a very common cause of blocked drains and clogs. People with long hair have to be vigilant when showering, because it is very easy for long strands of hair to get pushed deep into the shower drains by water. The occasional bit of hair is not a huge concern, but much like grease, the hair builds up over time and begins blocking the drain. If you think hair is causing your drains to become clogged, then you have two options. You can call a licenced plumber to come take a look, or you can buy a plumbing snake from the hardware store, and attempt to fish out the hard yourself. To prevent hair from causing clogs, you need to protect your drain. There are a bunch of home remedies online, for example some people recommend putting a dryer sheet over the drain when you shower. These home remedies are generally bad ideas and can even cause blockages of their own. The best bet is to get a cheap drain protector or hair strainer online. They are cheap and effective.

Wipes and hygiene products

“Flushable wipes” are very common products, especially in the homes of people with infants. But, they are not just meant for infants, plenty of people use flushable wipes. The problem with “flushable” wipes, is that they are anything but. Flushable wipes wreak havoc on piping. They do not break down, they get caught in pipes, and they cause massive blockages. Companies that make flushable wipes have tried to deny this, but increasingly large numbers of plumbers and government officials are warning people not to use flushable wipes. Feminine hygiene products also present a similar problem. They say they are flushable, but they really are not. It is better to throw out wipes and feminine hygiene products.

Toilet paper

This seems odd, after all if you cannot flush toilet paper down your toilet, what can you flush? The issue is not all toilet paper, but rather multi-ply toilet paper. Multi-ply toilet paper does not dissolve as well as single ply toilet paper, and can sometimes get caught in the pipes and cause clogging. So, when buying a toilet paper, try and strike a balance between comfort and solubility; otherwise you might find your pipes being clogged by undissolved toilet paper.

Damage or old pipes

Older pipes or pipes that have been damaged are very susceptible to clogging. So, if you notice an increase in the amount of clogs and blockages, check your pipes to see if they are broken or just worn out from use. If this is the case, you will need to get your pipes relined or replaced.

If you are interested in learning about more ways to deal with a clogged drain, check out this earlier article outlining 7 simple methods for fixing a clogged drain. As always, when dealing with plumbing issues, consult with a licensed plumber before doing anything major.