Clogged drains are frustrating, but they can turn into a nightmare if they clog repeatedly for no visible reason. Problems with water flow can be caused by much more than just a physical block of the drain pipe, especially if you live in an older house. Fret not, however; many of these problems are still relatively easy and inexpensive fixes.
Deteriorated Or Improperly Installed Pipes
The good news is that your house's plumbing is installed in segments, making it easy to fix localized problems without having to tear everything up. The bad news is that a problem in just one area can back up the entire pipe.
For example, waste pipes shouldn't have any sharp bends, as this makes it easy for debris and waste to accumulate and result in a block. These bends can occur over the course of time, but they can also be installed that way by an inexperienced plumber. A quality plumber can figure out the topology of your waste plumbing and figure out if there are any problems.
Older pipes can also develop sags which end up catching debris despite the slope, and this can also lead to constant clogs.
Waste plumbing is installed with a certain amount of flow in mind, so while it may work fine to start, adding additional water-using appliances can cause an overflow. There are a few things to look for here.
To start, test the problem by running your appliances one at a time. If the clog is more frequent during periods of heavy water usage, this could be a contributing factor.
Next, make sure that the pipes have enough ventilation. While lack of ventilation may not cause a clog directly, it can definitely impede the flow of water in an already very-full pipe. Make sure your air vents are as clean as the rest of the plumbing.
Interference From Mother Nature
A common cause for clogs can be found outside the home, where your main drain pipe meets either your septic system or the sewer system. Trees and bushes with long roots can eventually get in the way of the main pipe, causing a steady block until the roots are removed. If you know where the outlet pipe exits your house, follow it along to make sure there aren't any plants in the way. Shallow-root plants are usually fine, but it also helps to know how far underground your pipe is so you can be certain.
Food, Hair, And Lint
If you're constantly having to remove blockages from your drain pipes but don't know where all the debris is coming from in the first place, take an inventory of what you usually send down your drain on a typical day. This includes not only what goes through the garbage disposal, but also your washing machine and tub. If you don't have a lint filter on your washing machine, you can add one to the drain to prevent lint from catching farther down in the pipes. Hair catchers on every tub and shower drain can also work wonders. Finally, while garbage disposals themselves can handle much of what you feed them, the pipes beyond them can't; even tiny food particles can start to bunch up and clog, especially since much organic material will expand in water. When in doubt, use the trash instead.
Contact a professional drain cleaning service for more information and advice.