If you own residential or commercial property, you understand how vital functional, efficient plumbing is for day-to-day operations. Critical for wastewater management, drain systems must remain clog-free and operational for safety and legality. 

However, clogs happen. When drains stop working as they should, property owners depend on effective drain cleaning service in San Francisco. At Works Plumbing, we provide our clients with professional service, in-depth plumbing guidance, and more. 

Read on to discover the most common causes of clogged drains in residential and commercial buildings. For more information about plumbing services, upkeep, and more, browse our blog or contact us for personalized answers. 

Common Causes of Clogged Drains

Plumbing systems regularly undergo some of the most significant stresses out of any property component. For that reason, clogged drains can occur for any number of reasons. If you’re experiencing a clogged drain, review the possible culprits below to see if it’s time to call a plumbing professional.

#1: Leaks

Leaks can occur at any location in a plumbing system.

Over time, leaks can cause structural damage to a home or business, rotting out floor beams and wall framing. When underground and away from structures, plumbing leaks may erode the supporting soil or concrete. When left untreated, underground leaks can also damage a building’s foundation. 

These damages can remove critical support structures that plumbing systems rely on. Sagging, drooping, or bending pipes prevent free water flow. This compromised flow leads to backups and, you guessed it: clogs. 

How to Fix It: 

Leaks can be notoriously tricky to diagnose. By the time most property owners catch this issue, the damage is extensive and noticeable. 

If you suspect a leak in your home or business, schedule an emergency plumbing inspection. Keep up annual maintenance and assessments with a trusted plumbing provider as a preventative measure. 

#2: Plumbing Overload

Plumbing overload most frequently occurs in homes or businesses with small septic systems. In most cases, the burden placed on the system by family size or customer traffic exceeds the system’s capacity. At that point, the septic tank may overflow.

Septic overflow can lead to backflow, damaging lawns, driveways, and your home or business. 

How to Fix It: 

Once your plumbing system has become overwhelmed, call in the professionals. These experts can provide septic tank pumping and replace damaged pipes. They can also recommend any upgrades to ensure safe operation. 

#3: Excessive Slope

Excessive slope fluctuations can also cause drain clogs and backups. 

Often, slope issues become apparent quickly after plumbing installation. They rarely occur in older plumbing systems.

However, changes in the ground due to flooding, excavation, or new construction can alter the slope of sewer lines. As a result, they cause drain issues. 

How to Fix It: 

Replacing improperly sloped sewer lines is hard work. Additionally, you may face fines or further damages if you miscalculate the slope of your sewer line during repairs. 

If improper slope causes drain clogs and backups in your property’s plumbing system, your best bet involves adjusting pipe slopes. You may need heavy machinery and plumbing permits from your city officials. Call plumbing installation and sewer line experts for all-inclusive service.  

#4: Food Clogs

Food clogs occur most often in kitchen sinks and sometimes toilets. In these situations, someone has attempted to flush or dispose of food items too large for pipes and pipe openings. 

How to Fix It: 

Depending on the food in question, different methods prove effective at clearing most food clogs. In some cases, flushing the drain with hot water may work. For other food clogs, drain snakes may be necessary. 

If you have a stubborn food clog in your kitchen pipes, don’t run the risk of pipe damage. Get fast and affordable clog clearing services by calling your local plumbing experts as soon as possible. 

#5: Hair Clogs

Hair clogs frequently occur in shower drains. 

Typically, hair passes along the pipe system and into the septic tank or sewer along with wastewater. However, hair sometimes gets caught in u-bends in pipes or pipe openings. More material catches in the lodged hair clog, creating a blockage. 

How to Fix It: 

Snaking the line is your best option to clear a hair clog. This process requires tools and safety procedures best provided by plumbing experts. 

To prevent hair clogs, ensure your shower or bath fixtures have proper grating or protective drain covers. In addition, clean your drain covers often. 

#6: Tree Root Obstruction

Less common than other causes of clogged drains, tree roots still frequently cause plumbing problems. Over time, tree roots can grow to intersect with existing underground plumbing pipes. These roots can bend and crack plumbing pipes, causing massive leaks and devastating total drain clogs. 

How to Fix It: 

Tree roots can cause extensive damage to underground plumbing. Moreover, these growths require heavy-duty machinery and experience to remove. Depending on your plumbing company’s capabilities, you may need to hire more than one service.

#7: Flushable Wipes

Flushable wipes have an unfortunately misleading name. These wipes can build up in septic systems and pipes, causing septic backups and standard drain clogs. Both these outcomes reduce plumbing drain efficiency. 

How to Fix It: 

The best way to fix a flushable wipe clog is extraction. In some cases, property owners may require septic pumping. For in-pipe clogs, snaking may do the trick. 

#8: Hygiene Products

Like flushable wipes, most hygiene products don’t break down in pipes. They may also take much longer to break down in septic tanks. In fact, many hygiene products carry a label stating they are not safe for septic systems. 

How to Fix It: 

Clogs caused by hygiene products require septic pumping or snaking for clog removal. Contact your local plumbing experts for fast and reliable clog removal on your schedule. 

#9: Cat Litter

Though less common than other types of clogs, cat litter still has a place on this list. Many pet owners flush their cat litter, thinking this method is the safest way to dispose of used litter. 

However, septic and sewer systems are not designed to handle cat litter. As a result, litter will easily clog drains and u-bends. 

How to Fix It:

Like other types of clogs, cat litter requires removal by professional plumbers. In some cases, pipe sections may need removal before clog removal can occur. 

#10: Pipe Scale

Pipe scale refers to mineral buildup on the inside of plumbing pipes. This development occurs in homes or businesses with hard water or poor water filtration. It can also occur in buildings that still use old iron pipes. 

How to Fix It:

Pipe scale requires professional cleaning methods and sometimes total pipe replacement. 

During plumbing services, speak to your trusted provider about improving your home or business’ water filtration system. In particular, ask them how to reduce or eliminate scale buildup in your pipes. 

#11: Lodged Objects

Sometimes we accidentally flush foreign objects down the drain. In other cases, children experiment with sinks and bathtubs, and their test subjects become lodged in drains. Even large columns of toilet paper or paper towel can lodge in toilet u-bends. 

How to Fix It: 

Depending on the lodged object, plumbers can remove sections of pipe and dislodge the clog. They may even be able to return the item to the property owner. In other cases, snaking may pull the object back through the drain opening. 

#12: Fat, Oil, and Grease Clogs

Very common in commercial kitchens and restaurants, fat and grease clogs tend to form over time. 

Oil from fryers, skillets, fatty cuts of meat, and other sources comes into contact with cool water. The oil then solidifies and sticks to tight bends and spaces in pipes. When enough of this material builds up, it will block pipes entirely. 

How to Fix It: 

For smaller fat and grease clogs, a sustained hot water flow may work to clear the clog. In other cases, chemical clog removers or snakes become necessary. 

Are you dealing with a persistent fat or grease clog in your residential or commercial plumbing? Schedule an inspection with an expert as soon as possible. 

#13: Pipe Corrosion 

Pipe corrosion occurs when iron or copper pipes wear down over time. Layers of metal slowly flake off or dissolve inside of the pipe. This erosion compromises the efficiency of the pipe and the plumbing system as a whole. 

In some cases, corroded pipes collapse, allowing no movement. When this happens, connected drains will clog. 

How to Fix It: 

The only way to fix clogging caused by pipe corrosion involves replacing the affected pipes. Speak with seasoned plumbing professionals to learn about costs, timeframes, and more. 

Find Expert Plumbing Services in San Francisco

At Works Plumbing, we empower our San Francisco, CA clients through knowledge and service accessibility. Now that you understand the causes of clogged drains, learn how to prevent limescale from building up with these tips. You can also contact us online or at (650) 835-2009 to schedule your plumbing consultation today. 

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