Clogged Drains – Causes & How to resolve them

Clogged drains can be a nuisance to resolve.
No plumbing problem is fun to deal with. Whether you have a minor or major plumbing issue, both can be troublesome if you do not know how to resolve them. One of the most common types of plumbing problems are clogged drains. Clogged drains can occur in any drain in your house and sometimes it’s severity can affect the entire water works of your home. Highly clogged drains in particular can be more difficult to fix and they can take a significant amount to potentially clean out the pipe or to replace it with a new one if the damage is severe enough. Luckily, if you know the common causes of clogged drains, then you can prevent them from occurring completely. Here is a list of the most common plumbing problems, as well as how you can resolve your clogged drains by utilizing a variety of methods, depending on severity.

What are the most common signs of a clogged drain?

The most common signs of a clogged drain include:
  • Water + sewage back up
  • Slow draining after the use of water works
  • Certain appliances making strange noises when another is working 
  • Foul odours coming from your drains
  • Bubbling in your toilets whenever water is run in nearby sinks
If you notice any of these signs are taking place in your home, it is a strong indicator that you may have a clogged drain.

What are the common causes of clogged drains?

Clogged drains are among the most common types of clogs that occur in a household. When they do occur, it can be difficult to determine what has caused the clog, unless you can get a drain inspection. You can narrow down what has caused your clogged drains from the following list:

Tree Roots

  • Tree Roots are one of the most common types of causes of clogged drains. They are most commonly discovered in older homes, but just because you have a newer home does not mean that you cannot encounter tree roots. Tree roots are also even more common in forested areas, so if you live in this type of area then you should check for tree roots frequently. Tree roots naturally require water to grow and this is the reason why they are attracted to your sewer pipes, particularly if they are already damaged. One of the clear signs that your home has tree roots is if you can hear a gurgling sound coming from the pipes of your home.

Fat, Oil and Grease (FOG)

  • FOG is another common cause of clogged drains. Not only because FOG is commonly used in the kitchen, but many homeowners believe that it is fine to toss these substances down the drain. However, this is not the case as each of them can get stuck in your pipes and cause clogs which can completely disrupt your entire plumbing system. Homeowners can assume things that contain heavy amounts of FOG can clog your drain, but even more minor FOG substances such as butter and vegetable oil can result in a clog. The best way to deal with any type of FOG, regardless of how much it has, is to dispose of it into the trash. By avoiding the disposal of FOG down your drain, it will be far less likely to experience a clog.

Hair

  • Many people believe that since hair is a natural part of our bodies, that it will have little effect when it falls down a drain. However, if enough hair accumulates in a drain, it can be another troublesome substance that will disrupt the water flow throughout your home. Of course, you cannot stop hair from falling from your hair, but you can use a drain screen to prevent hair from making its way into your drain. If you also recongnize that there is alot of hair on your drain, then you can use tweezers or a safety pin to remove it from your drain. Doing this every once in a while will prevent your drain from experiecning a major clog.

Pipe alterations

  • Due to the changing weather conditions and other external factors, your pipes can directly be responsible for a clogged drain. Though this may seem strange as there is no substance that is directly causing a blockage, when your pipes undergo major weather changes such as freezing, then your drains can become clogged. This is common with pipes of older homes that may be made of weaker materials such as concrete or clay pipes. To avoid this completely, it is best to replace your older pipes with pipes made up of newer and stronger materials such as metal.

Insoluble food (e.g. eggshells)

  • While in your kitchen, there has probably been a time where you felt too lazy to throw the remains of food out in the trash, so you decided to toss it down the sink instead. This may seem harmless, but over time if you toss substances that do not break down easily, they can be difficult for your drain to run down, resulting in a clog. It is best to avoid tossing down all foods, particularly egg shells, meat bones, potato peels and other vegetables. Remember that even if you have a garbage disposal, it does not mean that you can freely toss down whatever you want!

How can I resolve my clogged drain?

Depending on the severity of your clogged drain, you can experiment with some DIY methods to relieve it. Here are some DIY steps that you can attempt on a minorly clogged drain:
  • Check if your drains contains any visible debris 
  • Try to pour hot water down your drains to see if it eases the clog
  • Using a drain cleaner product (avoid using too much as it could damage your pipes)
  • Use a sink plunger 
  • Pour vinegar and baking soda down your drain and let it sit for a couple of minutes
These methods are to be attempted at your own risk. Avoid using too many chemicals in your drains as it could damage your pipes. If you attempt each of these methods but have no success, you are best off calling a plumbing professional. Here are some of the measures that you can take with the help of a plumbing professional:
  • Camera Inspection: Camera inspections that are designed specifically for your pipes can help you in determining the likely cause of your clogged drain. It will also give the plumbing professional a better idea of what resolution method is best suited for the condition of your pipes.
  • Pipe Cleaning: Using a pipe cleaning method such as hydro jetting or a router machine can cut through thicker substances that are causing your drains to clog. Hydro jetting uses a high-pressure water beam to clear out your pipes of debris while the router machine can cut directly through substances and relieve a clog in your pipes.
  • Pipe Replacement: If your clogged drains are so severe that no other drain cleaning methods work, then it is best to replace your pipes completely. If only a part of your pipes are damaged then you can get a plumber to add an epoxy lining to your pipes, which can be installed directly into broken pipes and cause them to work normally again.
Remember these second set of clogged drains resolutions should only be conducted by a plumbing professional, so DO NOT attempt to do them by yourself or you may experience property damages. If you have any questions about the signs, causes and solutions of clogged drains, feel free to contact us, we will be ecstatic to answer your questions!
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What’s a Water Hammer and How Do I Fix It?

Water hammer or hydraulic shock is the loud bang you hear when a faucet or water-using appliance is quickly shut off. The banging is caused by the shock wave that causes the pipes to move and strike against one another or another closeby structure such as wall studs or floor joists. But it isn’t just annoying, it can potentially damage your plumbing system. Read on to find several methods of eliminating water hammer.

Tightening Pipes

Even a tiny shock wave can create loud banging if the pipes aren’t secured well. This usually won’t cause pipe damage, but the sound is still an annoyance to deal with. Tightening any loose pipe straps or hangers that secure the pipes to studs or joists will prevent water hammer from occurring. Foam pipe insulation can be wrapped around pipes to absorb any shock and prevent banging. Additional pipe straps or hangers can be installed where pipes cross studs or joists.

Resetting Air Chambers

In older homes, water supply systems may have air chambers located on every hot and cold water line or near each faucet or water inlet valve. These chambers are usually located behind walls along with the rest of the plumbing pipes. The purpose of the air in the chamber is to act as a shock absorber for high speed flowing water. Overtime, this can fill up with water, eliminating the air that absorbs shock. By shutting off the water supply and draining the pipes, air can be filled in the chambers again.

Installing Water Hammer Arrestors

Installing a water hammer arrestor on each water supply line is usually the best solution for the long-term elimination of water hammer. The water hammer arrestor is similar to an air chamber but it includes air or gas-filled chamber sealed by a diaphragm or piston. The diaphragm or piston moves to absorb the shock from the water. The water and air or gas are kept separate, meaning that water will never need to be drained from the arrestor.

Installing a Water-Pressure Regulator

When the pressure of the water entering the building is too high, water hammer can occur. Normal water pressure runs between 40 - 80 psi (pounds per square inch). Anything past 80 psi is considered very high pressure and can damage appliances. Installing a water-pressure regulator where the main water supply enters the home will help to control the pressure, protecting all appliances and fixtures against high water pressure. After testing, if water pressure is higher than normal with a pressure gauge kit from a hardware store, adjust the regulator to a pressure below 50 psi or as needed.

If the source of your water hammer issue cannot be found. Consider calling your local plumbing professional to assess and fix the issue for you. If you have any further questions, contact us!

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Signs A Sewer Backup Is Coming

Awaking in the morning and hearing that the house has a sewer backup is the probably one of the worst things to hear.  You can hear your toilets are overflowing. Also, the water is not draining down the sink, and your children are screaming all around the house. No one should have to go through this. Yet, the best way to fix this issue is to have avoided it from the very beginning. Here at Drain1, we understand this pain more than anyone else. We have many customers call in to our Drain 1 Toronto location asking for help. However, we also know that it is best to prevent them before they begin. We will take you through signs that will help you spot them before they begin!

Sign of Sewer Backup #1

The first and usual indicator that your house is about to have one's if there are more than one drain having issues draining. Remember, it has be more than one, since a single drain getting clogged happens occasionally. It can be fixed easily too. If the drains that are getting clogged are ones that you do not use frequently, then it is a much bigger warning, and something that requires dire attention.

Sign of Sewer Backup #2

Everyone likes bubbles. Kids, adults, and even grandparents can find enjoyment in them. However, if you see them popping out of your toilet, or any other area which has a drain, it isn’t anything good. The bubbles are coming from the air bubbles that are getting trapped when water trying to get past a clog. The best way to determine if this is a one-off event, just collect several gallons of water and flush it down the drain.

Sign of Sewer Backup #3

Say you flush your toilet, but then hear the water gurgling as it flows down a drain perhaps under your shower. Sure, it sounds creepy, however it hints at a greater threat, which is a clog existing in your plumbing. When the water is flushed down the toilet, since there is a clog, it is seeking another way of getting past it. Hence the reason you hear water gurgling in other drains.

These 3 signs will be enough to spot a sewer backup happening in your house early on. However, if you have questions, or any comments on what we said, please contact us at our Drain 1 Toronto location!

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5 Tips for Keeping Kitchen and Bathroom Sinks Clean & Clear

Bathroom drains routinely become slow from sticky substances like toothpaste, shaving cream and hair which all collect in the drain pipe. Kitchen sink drains have similar problems because oil and grease tend to solidify and build up over time.

Drain Cleaning Tips From the Pros

It is easy to treat and prevent these issues using items you already have at home. Learn how with these simple drain cleaning tips:

1. Do-It-Yourself

It is Bathroom sinks and tubs that usually become slow and blocked for different reasons than kitchen sinks, so you have to deal with them in different ways. For cleaning bathroom drains, ordinary table salt can be a very effective ingredient in your toolbox. Pour at least one tablespoon of salt into your bathroom drain followed by 1⁄4 cup of plain white vinegar, and let it sit for an hour. Then, run HOT water to clear out all of the loosened substances from the drain. For best results, do this a second time. So, to treat and prevent these issues using items you already have at home.

2. Maintain Your Sinks

To keep your drain clear after you clean it out, you need to pour a little bleach into the sing from time to time. Let it sit overnight or for at least an hour before you run water down the drain again

3. Ditch the Grease

 bleach into the sink to fight grease build-up in your kitchen sink. The drain can be remedied with liquid dish detergent and a large volume of boiling water. Put a big pot of water on the stove and bring it to a boil. Squirt a generous amount of dish liquid (at least a tablespoon) directly into your drain and pour the boiling water into the drain, a little at a time. The rapidly boiling water will melt grease deposits while the detergent helps to dissolve grease and oil and allow the boiling water to flush it away. You may want to repeat this process two to three times if the grease build-up is substantial. Let it sit overnight or for at least an hour before you run water down the drain again.

4. Hotter Than Usual Water

It may seem obvious, but simply putting hot water down your kitchen and bathroom sink drains at least weekly can go a long way to keeping them clean and clear. For the kitchen sink, hot water will help to melt and flush away light grease deposits. Bathroom drains also benefit from very hot water, since you normally wouldn’t use such hot water for washing your hands or face.

5. Use Cold Water Wisely

Conversely, when running your garbage disposal, it also runs copious amounts of COLD water down the drain, not hot. Coldwater will keep oils and grease in a solid-state so they can break by the disposal, whereas hot water will melt and soften grease and encourage it to coat the inside of your drain. Only use hot water after you have already run the disposal to help remove any grease deposits that may have formed when you were washing pots and pans.

Contact Drain’s 1 team for more tips.

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