15 Common Drain Clog Questions + How To Fix Them
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When you think about it, your house is full of drains, from the kitchen to the bathrooms to the laundry room and more. You likely have a kitchen sink, multiple bathroom sinks and toilets, a tub or two, showers, and don’t forget a washing machine, dishwasher, etc. In other words, your home has many places for wastewater to go, which means it also has lots of opportunities for clogs.
We put everything down our drains, even when we know we probably shouldn’t. And, often, our drains are hardworking and do the best they can, but eventually, enough is enough. Over time, whether it’s from build-up, breakage, a blockage, or something else, drains can clog.
For more s clogs, it’s best to call in the help of a professional plumber. But, in many cases, you might be able to solve the issue with some DIY effort and a plunger or a plumbing snake.
Why Is My Drain Clogged?
The build-up of various materials is one of the most common reasons for a clogged drain. Do you make a habit of putting pretty much anything and everything down your drains? If you don’t regularly flush or clean your drains, you might notice that they clog more often.
For example, items like hair can start to snag and catch on other elements, mixing with things like soap and creating bigger clumps over time. This is especially the case in shower drains. Kitchen drains often end up clogging due to a build-up of grease and cooking oils.
Of course, sometimes, a clog occurs from a larger object getting stuck in the drain or the drain line. You might especially deal with more frequent clogs for this reason if you have older plumbing.
If your plumbing system is older, it might struggle to keep up with the amount of wastewater you’re generating in the home. In some cases, it could be deteriorating pipes or a plumbing system that’s too small.
For example, consider if you purchase an older home, then add a bathroom, laundry room, a larger kitchen sink, a dishwasher, and more. You very well may need to update the older plumbing as well. Otherwise, the outdated system might not be able to keep pace with your new additions.
In rarer cases, mother nature could be to blame for your clogged drains. There could be dirt, leaves, and other items stuck in the pipes somewhere down the line. You might even have tree roots busting through an ill-placed pipe.
If your foundation has experienced any shifting, it could potentially mess up the slope of your underground pipes. Drains need gravity to work properly, so if the pitch is off, you’ll likely end up with a clog.
Most Common Questions About Clogged Drains
The first step to fixing your clogged drain is to determine the cause of the clog. If you’re experiencing a clogged drain, it’s more than likely due to build-up or something blocking the drain or drainpipe. Before putting your plumber on speed dial, inspect your drain a bit closer to see if any of these everyday items could be to blame.
1. Can Baby Powder Clog A Drain?
It’s doubtful that baby powder is the source of your clogged drain. Although the powder doesn’t dissolve, it’s very fine. Therefore, you’d have to put a massive amount of powder down the drain to clog it.
2. Can Drano Make A Clog Worse?
Many plumbers advise against using Drano to deal with clogs. Typically, this is because the chemicals in many cleaners could cause pipes to corrode. Sometimes, it’s because Drano doesn’t work on all types of clogs, so it has the potential to build up around the clog and sit, leading to pipe corrosion.
The build-up could also potentially make the clog worse or break it up enough to move further down the line and form a new clog. However, on their page, Drano and SC Johnson claim that Drano Max Gel Clog Remover contains a special ingredient. This ingredient prevents the product from corroding pipes.
Still, it’s essential to keep in mind other cleaning products you might use before or after using Drano. If the two different products combine in your pipes, it could cause a chemical reaction that can create some nasty fumes.
When to Use Drano for a Clogged Drain
According to Drano, their cleaners are safe for pipes, but they warn to avoid using other chemical cleaners. Specifically, they recommend steering clear of products containing sulfuric or hydrochloric acid. These acids can damage various materials, like your pipes, when misused.
If you do use Drano products, it’s imperative to follow the instructions on the label to the letter. Most guidelines usually advise waiting for a specific period after pouring the Drano and then flushing the drain with hot water. Still, with all of the debate surrounding Drano and other chemical cleaners, it’s worth attempting other unclogging methods first.
3. Does Epsom Salt Clog Drains?
You shouldn’t have any issue with Epsom salts clogging your drains, especially if they’re fully dissolved. In fact, some people even use Epsom salts as part of different DIY methods to unclog drains. Therefore, if you’re concerned, simply ensure the salts dissolve before draining your tub.
4. Does Shaving Cream Clog Drains?
You might be surprised to learn that shaving cream will clog your drain. Especially if you regularly shave in your sink and don’t take any precautions to protect your drain. Shaving cream will build up over time and form a sludge along with soap and other materials.
Also, often, with shaving cream comes the hair you’re shaving, so it all goes down the drain. So, instead of letting everything go down the sink and rinsing your blade under the faucet, use a bowl. Fill a bowl with hot water to rinse your blade, and put a good hair catcher in your drain.
After shaving, wipe any hair out of the sink and let hot water run down the drain for a couple of minutes. This will help dissolve any shaving lather that might be hanging out inside the pipes.
5. Does Coconut Oil Clog Drains?
Coconut oil can potentially clog your drain, especially if used in a cold shower or bath or cold conditions. This is because coconut oil typically melts at 76 degrees Fahrenheit. Therefore, if you use it at a temperature below this, it can harden and clog your pipes.
But, if you use it in a hot shower, let the hot water run for a bit after the oil goes down the drain. If you do this, you shouldn’t have an issue.
6. Does Denture Adhesive Clog Drains?
Denture adhesives like Fixodent and other products dissolve in hot water but can still build up over time if frequently flushed down the drain. This build-up can cause a clog.
Therefore, it’s best to toss denture adhesives in the trash. If the adhesive does go down the drain, ensure to run hot water for several minutes to help it dissolve.
7. Does Castile Soap Clog Drains?
You probably wouldn’t think soap would cause a drain clog, but Castile soap contains a high oil and fat content. These ingredients gunk up your pipes and build up, causing scummy clogs.
8. Do Coffee Grinds Clog Drains?
Tossing your coffee grinds down the drain can certainly cause a clog. Coffee grinds can clump together, especially if they mix with other substances like grease and oil.
So, toss coffee grinds in the trash, or better yet, use them for composting. You can even use coffee grinds to create exfoliating scrubs and facial masks. (But don’t rinse them down the drain.)
9. Can Short Hair Clog A Drain?
Small pieces of short hair here and there likely won’t cause your drain much issue, unlike long hair, which can create giant hairballs. But, rinse enough of it down the drain, and it can cause problems. It builds up over time and mixes with other materials like soap scum and grease.
The rule of thumb is, don’t put any hair down your drain. It doesn’t matter if it’s short, long, human hair, or pet hair. Throw it in the garbage can instead.
10. Do Detergent Pods Clog A Drain?
There have been recent claims that detergent pods can cause clogged drains, but these are mostly unfounded. The pods are designed to dissolve fully and flow through the plumbing system with no problem. However, this is when they are used appropriately.
11. Do Bath Bombs Clog Drains?
While bath bombs are meant to go in the tub, they can still clog your drain. Although the likelihood can vary based on how often you use bath bombs and what’s inside them. Many bath bombs contain Epsom salts and baking soda, which dissolve in water.
However, a lot of bath bombs also contain essential oils, cocoa butter, and even bits of glitter or flowers. These items can definitely get stuck inside of your pipes and cause a clog. Therefore, use a strainer over your tub drain whenever using bath bombs.
If you notice things like glitter or other particles in the water, use a mesh strainer to get them out before draining the tub. Lastly, run hot water down your tub drain for a couple of minutes after using a bath bomb.
12. Do Essential Oils Clog Drains?
Essential oils typically won’t clog your drain, mainly since you commonly use them in minimal amounts. For example, many different scrubs and other products containing essential oils only call for one or two drops. Plus, essential oils are often diluted when using them in things like natural household cleaners.
However, some oils, like lavender oil, olive oil, etc., can harden up in your pipes, similar to coconut oil. Therefore, it’s best to use essential oils sparingly when it comes to your drains.
13. Does Grease Or Fat Clog Drains?
Grease and fat account for a good portion of drain clogs, especially in kitchen sinks. Over time, these materials solidify and form into gunk that can cause some significant (and gross) clogs.
It’s best to wipe down plates and pots before washing them in your sink. Also, you can use a fat catcher in your drain to let water drain through, but larger particles stay put.
If there are excessive amounts of oil, grease, or fat in your pots and pans, pour it into an old container or can. Cover it and toss it in the garbage instead of washing it down your drain.
14. Do Body Scrubs Clog Drains?
As relaxing as body scrubs can be, the clogs they can leave behind aren’t so relaxing. The problem is, many scrubs contain ingredients like coconut oil and microbeads that can cause clogs.
If you plan to use a body scrub in the shower or tub, use a filter to catch the larger chunks. After your bath or shower, toss out the pieces, then flush the drain with hot water for several minutes to try and keep the oils moving.
15. Does Acrylic Paint Clog Drains?
You might assume because acrylic paints are typically water-based, they’re safe to toss down the drain. In reality, this can not only cause environmental issues, but it can eventually clog your drain as well.
It’s best to rinse off paintbrushes in a bucket of soapy water instead and dispose of the buckets with hazardous waste collections. The recommendation is to mix paint with twice as much cat litter to get it to clump and throw it in the garbage.
How To Fix A Clogged Drain
While taking care not to let too much stuff go down the drain helps, getting a clogged drain at some point is inevitable. But, you can resolve many clogs with a few easy DIY methods and basic items, like a plunger and plumbing snake.
So, before pulling your hair out in frustration (and washing it down the drain), first, try some of these helpful fixes to unclog a drain.
Use A Plunger
A plunger isn’t just for toilets; it can help unclog your sink drains too. You need a small plunger that can form a tight seal over your drain for it to work properly. Plus, the bell of the plunger needs to be submerged in water.
If there are other drains nearby, it can even help to close or cover them. This helps maintain the seal. If there’s standing water in the sink, there just needs to be enough to cover the drain and plunger.
Therefore, if the basin is full, use a cup to scoop some water out to prevent making a mess. Ensure the sink stopper is out. You can typically pull them out or unscrew them by turning counterclockwise.
Finally, position the plunger over the drain and press down hard to form the seal. Move the plunger up and down for roughly 15 to 20 seconds, then remove the plunger.
If plunging your sink took care of the clog, you should notice the water going down instantaneously. Use a flashlight to peek inside the drain in case any objects came up and are visible. If the clog persists, try plunging again.
Use A Plumbing Snake
Plumbing snakes are a useful tool to add to your DIY arsenal. Feeding a line down the drain to snake it can help grab hold of an obstruction and pull it up. The snake can also help break up clogs to get things flowing again.
Typically, you feed the snake down the drain using a hand crank. Before doing so, remove the sink stopper or drain cover in the shower or tub. Once you reach the clog, simply move the snake around and up and down a bit. Then, retract the line using the hand crank.
As you retract, use a rag to wipe off the snake. Plumbing snakes can work well on clogs caused by clumping hair and other debris. They also come in various lengths, so make sure to get the one that’s a good fit for your job.
Unclogging A Drain With Baking Soda And Vinegar
Using a baking soda and vinegar mixture can help clean drains and keep them working correctly. It’s a good way to address a clog caused by hair and the build-up of various materials. It’s also a good practice to add to your regular drain maintenance, performing the steps monthly.
Follow these steps to clean your drain with baking soda and vinegar:
- Remove the sink stopper or drain cover.
- Pour ½ cup of baking soda down the drain slowly.
- Next, pour ½ cup of white vinegar down the drain and immediately plug the drain. The baking soda and vinegar combo will start to fizz.
- Leave everything as-is for about an hour.
- Unplug the drain and flush it with about 4 to 6 cups of boiling water.
- Repeat if necessary, especially for stubborn clogs.
Unclog Your Drain With Dish Soap
If your drain clog is mostly from grease, dish soap can be just the ticket to unclogging it. After all, dish soap is designed to cut through grease and fats. Also, it will only work if your sink is allowing some water to drain.
If absolutely no water is draining from the sink, try plunging or snaking it first to create some water flow, even if it’s slow.
To attempt to unclog your drain with dish soap, do the following:
- Remove as much standing water as possible with a cup.
- Pour about 4 cups of boiling water down the drain.
- Pour one cup of liquid dish detergent down the drain.
- Let it be for about 5 minutes.
- Pour another four cups of boiling water down the drain.
- Repeat if necessary.
Check The Pipe Below The Sink
You might need to go below the sink for clogs caused by a blockage due to an object. For example, if you drop something large down the sink, it could be stuck in the pipe below the drain. Shut off the water immediately at the tap, then turn off the supply valve below the sink.
Use a pipe wrench or your hands to undo the pipe. Make sure to place a bucket beneath the pipe to catch any water. Remove the object, then put the pipe back into place and turn on the water supply.
How To Keep Your Drains Clear
Of course, the best way to deal with clogs is to try and prevent them in the first place.
- Avoid sending things like grease, oil, hair, shaving cream, and other materials down your drains.
- Clean sink stoppers regularly to get rid of hair and other gunk that can collect on it.
- Use hair-catchers or mesh screens over drains.
- After shaving, using bath products, fooling with greasy pots and pans, etc., run hot water down the drain for several minutes.
- Regularly clean your drains using baking soda and vinegar to avoid back-ups.
Call A Plumber
If nothing you try resolves the clog, it’s best to call a pro. A plumber can deal with the clog quickly and efficiently.
Other Frequently Asked Questions About Drain Clogs
It depends. Ultimately, the landlord owns the property and is responsible for seeing that all clogs are resolved to prevent further damage. However, even so, the tenant may still be liable to pay for the repair.
If the clog is caused by natural elements, normal wear-and-tear, or deemed as nobody’s fault, the landlord takes full responsibility. However, if the clog is due to damage from the tenant or an accidental clog, it’s on the tenant’s shoulders. For example, if a tenant accidentally clogs the drain from putting hair and other things down it, they would need to pay for the fix.
Coke and other sodas contain phosphoric acid that can technically unclog your drain. However, you need to be aware of a few things. It only really works if your sink is completely backed up; otherwise, the soda just washes down the drain.
If you want to attempt to unclog your sink with soda, let a two-liter bottle come to room temperature. Then, ensure you scoop out any standing water in your sink and pour the two liters of soda down the drain.
Let it sit for at least two hours, although overnight is best. Then, flush the drain with hot water for several minutes to rinse away any sticky residue. It could work, so why not try it?
Salt tends to have mildly abrasive and antiseptic properties that can be an excellent way to clean your pipes. However, many plumbers recommend salt as a cleaner when mixed with other elements like vinegar or baking soda.
For example, you can mix equal parts salt and vinegar or salt and baking soda (usually ½ cup to one cup of each). Then, pour the mixture down your drain and let it sit for about 15 to 30 minutes. Finally, flush the drain with about 4 to 6 cups of boiling water.
No, you shouldn’t put flour down your drain. When flour mixes with water, it creates a gluey-like substance. If flour goes down your drain, it can form into this substance in your pipes, causing clogs.
If you want to avoid using chemical cleaners, a baking soda and vinegar combo is best for dealing with many clogs. If you do decide to go with a commercial product, Drano Max Gel Drain Clog Remover claims to remove all clogs in showers, tubs, and sinks. Plus, it states it’s safe on metal and plastic pipes, and they offer a money-back guarantee.