Drains can be blocked by a variety of things, many of them normally occurring in households. Some items are more common than others to cause clogs, but all should be considered possible blockage hazards if they have the opportunity to move towards a drain.
Plumber Newcastle owner Cherie Outjers explains that drains can become blocked very quickly, as they are so small and narrow compared to other household fixtures such as toilets or showers. They may also be subject to damage from foreign objects which lay undiscovered until it is too late.
With all this in mind, homeowners must watch out for the following things that can easily jam their drains.
Human hair is a fairly frequent offender and probably one of the first things that come to mind when talking about clogged drains. Long-haired people might especially have this issue, as their locks will sometimes manage to wrap around small objects or completely cover larger ones on their way down into a sink or shower drain. Hair can also combine with soaps and shampoos as well as oils from the body to form plaques that are extremely difficult for water to move past.
Fats, Oils and Grease
Cooking oils are one of the most frequent offenders in drain clogging. Many people pour excess oil into the sink to dispose of it later when it has cooled down, but this can be a dangerous practice as it cools near instantly due to its chemical makeup. The practice is especially harmful when done with frying oil which typically solidifies at room temperature making it much harder to remove once cooled than other oils.
The pesky little grains found in coffee makers are not only bad for drains because they often end up there by accident during clean-up, but they are also a culprit because of their density. Coffee grounds can easily form a sludge that takes up so much room in a drain it prevents other objects from passing through.
The dreaded “hairbrush”
This is easily one of the most common drain blockers, though it may be unexpected to those who have never experienced such a clog themselves. It occurs when hair gets caught on the bristles of a hairbrush and then travels down into the pipes where it can combine with soap or oils to create an impenetrable blockage that water cannot penetrate.
Makeup and cosmetics
Many people use makeup brushes, Q-tips and similar items designed for applying make-up without realizing they are adding to their plumbing problems as well. Many of these items are not designed for being flushed down the drain and therefore cannot be safely dealt with in this manner. Makeup can also break down into a sludge that is very difficult to remove from a drain once it has been allowed to settle there, making the problem even worse with time.
While some foods can dissolve or easily pass through a plumbing system, others have just enough bulk to form a mass that water cannot penetrate. These types of foods will either collect at the bottom of pipes where they prevent water from moving past them or they will catch on obstructions like small protrusions caused by corrosion which prevents other materials from moving forward as well.
This is another issue that is not limited to humans, but the sheer size of the average house cat or dog means their fur can easily move down bathroom drains on its own. While it will not typically cause problems if water can push past it, excess fur deposited in a drain over time can form enough of a layer to prevent water from doing so causing an overflow situation.
This material has some bulk to it without having too much weight like many other items which makes it perfect for clogging drains while still being able to dissolve with time. Toilet paper is normally disposed of after use, but small amounts are often missed during clean-up and this can lead to big problems further down the line. This material can combine with other drain clogging materials to form a mass that is much harder to remove than if the materials were separate.
Sawdust and wood shavings
Unlike paper products, sawdust and wood shavings are very light but have plenty of bulk which makes them another culprit when it comes to drain clogs. Materials like these often accumulate in showers where they fall from workbenches or shelves over time and once water cannot reach the bottom of a pipe because of this, it will typically overflow onto adjacent surfaces until it has drained out completely.