Household Items That Commonly Cause Drain & Sewer Clogs

A clogged drain or sewer line– one of the most dreaded home plumbing problems of them all. If left unattended, drain clogs can wreak havoc on your home’s plumbing system. When the pipes running to and from your sink or shower aren’t performing properly, it can be pretty difficult to do basic household chores like washing the dishes, or completing every day tasks, like bathing and washing your hands. But what causes those clogs in the first place?

When it comes to drain & sewer clogs, hazards are hiding everywhere! Sure, there are some obvious items to keep out of the drain, but some of these household drain dangers may surprise you.

Here is a list of the most common items that clog your drain & sewer lines — be sure to keep them far away from your drains!

6 Common Items That Clog Your Drains & Sewer Lines:

  1. Grease and Fats
    Frying oil from the kitchen or coconut oil from your last DIY hair treatment in the bathroom – both can harden when poured down the drain. Although bacon grease may look like a liquid in the pan, when it’s dumped down the drain, it solidifies as it’s cooled. The result? When enough grease and fat make its way into your plumbing system, you could wind up with with a “fatberg” – a plumbing problem that can cause major sewer backups. Hardened grease sticks to the sides of your plumbing pipes, reducing drain flow. The easiest answer to this problem? Find another way to dispose of your greasy, oily grime. Pouring it into a disposable cup until it hardens and is able to be thrown away is one good option.
  2. Hair
    Let’s face it ladies, sometimes your shower looks like the lovable, yet furry Chewbacca just washed off in there when you get out. We know, it’s not your fault, but allowing all that hair to go down the drain is! Invest in a good drain screen of sorts to catch the hair before it’s able to wreak havoc. It’s a lot more gross to clean after the fact, we promise.
  3. Coffee Grounds:
    If you can’t start your day without coffee, make sure you pay extra attention to this one! Coffee grounds should never be washed down your sink drain or your garbage disposal – did you know that coffee grounds are one of the leading causes of blocked drains next to grease? You may be thinking, “but they’re already ground up.” Technically yes, but that actually makes it easier for coffee grounds to cling to your plumbing and gum up the works within your garbage disposal.
  4. Lingering Food
    Nine times out of ten, food particles from unscraped dishes are to blame for a clogged kitchen sink. The solution? Stop rinsing before scraping! It’s as simple as that. Food should never be put down your drain (unless it’s headed down the garbage disposal). Even then, it’s not a catch-all. Bones, breads and fibrous foods are just some of the food items to avoid putting down the disposal.
  5. Paper & Cotton Goods
    Toilet paper, yes. Paper towels, napkins and cotton balls? No! These have a tendency to expand as they absorb, so flushing them down the toilet can cause major plumbing problems down the line. You know those small stickers that come on your produce? They’re easy to crumple up and flush down the drain, but likely to cause a problem. Regardless of how small they are, these stickers can get stuck in drains, pipes and even on wastewater treatment plant pumps. Not to mention, if they happen to pass through everything without a problem, they then wind up in our water. Also, we hope you’re not smoking indoors to begin with! But, if you happen to light the occasional cigarette butt once in awhile, make sure you’re not throwing its remains down the drain. Lastly, stick to single ply toilet paper and say no to the rest. Anything else is too dense to be flushed and can risk snagging and causing a clog.
  6. Flushable Wipes
    Just because they’re advertised as being flushable doesn’t mean your toilet is the best place to dispose of them, wet wipes aren’t able to break down as easily as toilet paper does, so a lot of times they wind up causing plumbing problems despite their “flushable” characteristics. Trust us, as experts in our field, we stick behind the idea that the only thing that should be flushed down the toilet is waste and toilet paper!

Honorable Mention:

  • Tree Roots
    While tree roots have little to do with what you put down your drains, they can cause major problems and backups within your plumbing system. Plants are naturally attracted to water that is rich in minerals. If there is a small crack in your sewer line, you may find that tree roots will seek out this water source and clog your sewer line.
  • Bath Bombs
    They’re all the rage lately, so we wouldn’t be surprised if you and your family have hopped on board and given one a whirl. While their colors and scents might be mesmerizing, they often don’t dissolve completely, leaving large chunks to harden within your plumbing.
  • Makeup
    Beauty products may help with your appearance, but they certainly don’t help with your plumbing. To prevent a clog specifically in the bathroom, you’re much better off by including old makeup and gels/liquids that you use to style your hair with the rest of your daily garbage.
  • House Paint
    While this might not be something you use everyday, homeowners often wind up with a paint can or two stored in the basement or garage after a home improvement project is complete. And, like grease, many tend to think that you can just wash all of the excess away. The truth, though? You can’t! Dispose of paint safely in the trash, not down the drain.
  • Pet Waste
    Although your toilet is meant for waste, it should only be used for human waste. Pet waste, including cat litter, can clog your toilet.
  • Hard Water Deposits
    Do you have hard water in your home? As the water dries, it can leave behind calcium deposits that make it difficult for water to flow freely through your plumbing system. If you experience hard water deposits in your home, it is worth looking into whole home filtration & water softening systems.

Now fast forward to what happens once any of these items make their way into your pipes – this can’t be good for our plumbing, right? Sending things deep down into our pipes when they aren’t meant to be there can take a huge toll on our plumbing systems, so it’s up to all of us to make sure that we’re acting accordingly.

Sometimes, no matter how vigilant we are, clogged drains are inevitable, and for that reason, there’s always Barker and Sons Plumbing & Rooter. Available 24/7/365, we’re ready and willing to lend a hand to folks in the Orange County CA area, no matter when a plumbing disaster strikes.

The next time you think about turning to your drains to get rid of common items and materials, we hope you’ll step back and remember that not all household products are plumbing friendly. If you’re on the fence about using your drain to dispose of an item, just don’t!

If you’re located in Orange County, California and experience a clogged drain or would like to have yours cleaned to prevent one, give Barker and Sons Plumbing & Rooter a call at 714.630.8766 or contact us online. There’s no clogged drain we can’t manage.