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Here’s Why Homeowners Experience Clogged Drains and Sewers

May 21, 2023 | San Francisco Plumbing

Let the experts fix your clogged drains

Are your toilet and kitchen sink slow-draining and fetid? If so, you’re not alone! Homes in San Francisco are prone to sewer line clogs, and there isn’t a single reason for this. As you may already know by now, having a clogged drain at home can be disruptive, both in terms of physical health and finances. So, it’s best to call for a drain cleaning service as early as possible to resolve the issue.

There are many different things that can clog a drain pipe and main sewer. In this blog post, we’ll explore the common causes behind sewer line clogs and provide helpful tips on how to prevent them from happening in the first place.

#1 Non-degradable items

If you use your kitchen sink or toilet for garbage disposal, you cannot escape the problem of clogged pipes. Flushing down non-degradable items like baby wipes, paper towels, and feminine hygiene products can cause significant clogs in the main sewer line. When the sewer line is blocked, sewer backups become a common problem at home.

So, always use the trash can and not the toilet when it comes to disposing of non-degradable items. Doing so will keep your sewer pipe free of obstructions, thereby maintaining the flow of water. In a worst-case scenario, you will have to call for a drain cleaning service to restore your plumbing to its optimal state.

#2 Hair and fibrous substances

Hair, food waste, and other foreign substances, when flushed down toilets and sinks, will inevitably clog the sewer drain. The main sewer line will be blocked by the accumulated debris, thereby obstructing the flow of wastewater.

Putting drain covers in showers and tubs is a great way to keep hair from clogging up your sewer pipe. When you stop using your kitchen sink for garbage disposal, you certainly can minimize the problem of a clogged sewer line at home.

#3 Soap scum

Another common cause of a clogged drain is soap scum, which is particularly seen in bathroom sinks, showers, and bathtubs. When soap mixes with hard water minerals, it forms a sticky residue composed of fatty acids and minerals known as soap scum. Over time, this scum can accumulate on the surfaces of pipes, drains, and fixtures, leading to blockages and reduced water flow.

So, always rinse the surfaces thoroughly with hot water to help dissolve and wash away any residual soap scum. Make it a routine to scrub bathroom fixtures, drains, and pipes with a brush to remove any existing soap scum. Doing so can help you prevent the clogging of sewers and drains to a great extent.

#4 Grease and oil

Grease and oil are notorious for clogging up kitchen sinks. When fats, oils, and grease (FOG) are in a warm state, they can be easily drained away. However, as the FOG cools, it hardens and adheres to the inner walls of the piping system. This buildup can cause nasty clogs over time that are hard to get rid of.

Instead of pouring grease and oil down the drain, it’s best to dispose of them properly. Allow the grease to cool and solidify, then scrape it into a sealable container or a designated grease disposal bin. You can also consider reusing or recycling cooking oil if possible. If you notice slow drainage or suspect a grease clog, professional drain cleaning services can help you get rid of the issue.

#5 Tree root intrusion

Tree roots are often a contributing factor in clogging sewer lines and drains, particularly when the pipes have been weakened or compromised. Since they’re always looking for water and nutrients, roots can easily make their way toward the pipes, being drawn in by the moisture and warmth inside. If the pipes have any small cracks, loose joints, or gaps, it’s even easier for tree roots to find their way in.

If you suspect tree root intrusion, it is highly recommended that you reach out to a professional plumber or sewer specialist. With a camera inspection, they can properly gauge the severity of the issue and decide on the best course of action. For more serious pipe damage, pipe lining or trenchless pipe replacement methods (1) may be the most viable option to reduce excavation and disruption.

#6 Corrosion

With prolonged usage, pipes constructed from materials like galvanized steel and iron may suffer corrosion, leading to the accumulation of rust, scale, and other deposits within the piping system (2). The build-up of material in pipes can reduce their diameter, resulting in restricted water flow and a heightened likelihood of clogs. Additionally, your primary sewer pipe may suffer from wear and tear due to age, environmental conditions, or substandard materials, potentially leading to cracks, leaks, or collapses. These issues can create an entry point for debris, sediment, and tree roots, which can then cause blockages.

To ensure the long-term effectiveness of your plumbing system, it is recommended that you schedule regular inspections with a qualified plumber. This allows for any potential issues, such as corrosion or clogs, to be identified and rectified in a timely manner. Should your plumber identify an aged or failing sewer line, they may choose to replace or reline the pipe accordingly.

Whenever any problem arises due to a clogged drain, it is advisable to consult with a professional plumbing company that can assess the situation and recommend the best course of action. Wondering who to approach? Our technicians at O’Grady Plumbing are there to help you solve your sewer drain issues. Contact us today!

Frequently Asked Question

What happens with a clogged sewer line?

If your sewer line has become blocked, this can manifest itself in a variety of ways. Typical signs that appear are slow drainage from sinks, toilets, showers, and bathtubs, or even water and waste backing up into other fixtures. The buildup of wastewater and debris can also cause foul smells in the affected area.

Can multiple fixture problems arise due to a clogged drain?

Clogs in the main sewer line can have a ripple effect on your home or building’s plumbing system, causing issues with drains and toilets in various areas. If you experience such problems, it is likely due to a blockage in the sewer line as opposed to individual drain issues.

What are the health risks posed by a clogged main sewer line?

A clogged sewer line can be a serious health hazard, as it can potentially expose individuals to dangerous bacteria, viruses, and contaminants found in wastewater. It is imperative to take swift action to minimize any potential risks.




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