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Ask John Clogged Drains Main Image

John Turpin is our resident home service repair expert here at Service Direct. He’s got the knowledge and experience to help homeowners like you make sense of most home repair issues. And with Service Direct, we connect you with top-tier service professionals to help with any repairs needed.

Find Out Why Your Drain Keeps Clogging

No one likes a drain that keeps clogging. Whether it is a full or partial blockage, you can expect all kinds of reactions as water redirects itself. There will be backups, low water pressure, slow drainage, and flooding, among many others. Some clogs are minor hassles, but others can cause costly damage to your home.

Clogs happen constantly, even when you try to be careful with whatever you flush down the drain. This makes it important for homeowners to know how to address various clogged plumbing situations. For this, it’s a great idea to know about the different causes of clogged drains, which can help you identify, avoid, and prevent plumbing problems before it is too late.

Read on to learn about some of the most common reasons why your drains keep getting clogged and how to troubleshoot the root cause of the problem.

Blocked Kitchen Sink
Check out the following reasons why your drains are clogging.

Reasons Why Your Drain Keeps Clogging

Drain clogs can be an aggravating and persistent problem in many households. Sometimes, it seems like no matter how many times you clear the blockage, it keeps returning. There are a variety of reasons why drains keep getting clogged. Understanding these causes is the key to stopping clogged drains and keeping pipes clear and flowing smoothly.


Why do drains keep backing up? When hair collects in the drain, it can form a tangled mass that traps other debris and prevents water from flowing freely. This can lead to slow-draining sinks and showers or even complete blockages. If you want to lessen the frequency of clogged drains, install a drain screen to prevent hair from getting into the drain and pipes. You can also regularly clean your gutters with a drain cleaner to break up any hair and other buildup.

Soap and Shampoo Residue

Soap scum and shampoo residue can gradually accumulate in the drain pipes, making it difficult for water to pass through. Over time, this buildup can lead to clogs that are usually difficult to clear. If you want to prevent this, you must regularly clean your drains using a drain cleaner or cleaning solutions designed to break up buildup. You can also use a drain screen to catch excess soap and shampoo before they get into the pipes.

Food Waste

One of the most common reasons your kitchen drain keeps clogging is food waste. Items such as grease, oils, and food scraps can accumulate in the pipes, causing blockages. This can lead to slow-draining sinks and a foul odor emanating from your drain. If you don’t want your drain to clog because of food waste, you must dispose of it properly. The key is to dispose of small amounts of food waste at a time and never put hard or fibrous items down the disposal, like bones or celery.


Items like baby wipes, sanitary products, and cotton swabs can easily get flushed down the toilet and create blockages in the plumbing system. Avoid putting them down the drain because they don’t break down like toilet paper. They can easily get stuck in the pipes, causing clogs that are difficult to remove. Never flush anything that isn’t human waste or toilet paper down the toilet.

Our resident home repair guru, John Turpin, has provided a list of common reasons why your drains are clogged, along with some suggested solutions and DIY tips to fix it.

Mineral Buildup

One of the common reasons why your main sewer line keeps clogging is mineral buildup. Hard water can cause mineral buildup in the pipes, eventually leading to blockages. If you live somewhere with hard water, it’s essential to maintain your drains regularly. You can use a solution of baking soda and white vinegar to break up any mineral buildup in your pipes. Also, you can install a water softener to help prevent mineral buildup in the first place.

Tree Roots

Your drain probably clogs because tree roots have invaded your pipes, causing damage and blockages. This is a particularly common problem with older homes that have clay pipes, as tree roots can easily penetrate this type of pipe. If tree roots are a persistent problem, you may need to replace your pipes with a more durable material, such as PVC.

Poor Drain Design

Sometimes, the problem with clogged drains is simply poor design. If your drain system isn’t properly designed or installed, it can lead to slow-draining sinks and frequent clogs. This can be problematic if you live in an older home or a building with outdated plumbing systems. If you suspect poor drain design is why your drain keeps clogging, it may be necessary to have a professional plumber assess your system and recommend any necessary upgrades.

Aging Pipes

Over time, pipes can deteriorate and become more prone to clogs and other plumbing problems. This is particularly true for older homes, which have outdated plumbing systems. If you are experiencing frequent clogs despite your best efforts to maintain your drains, it may be time to have them inspected by a professional plumber. They can assess the condition of your pipes and recommend any necessary repairs or replacements.

Aging Pipes Susceptible To Blocking
Old and deteriorating pipes are more susceptible to clogging.

How to Troubleshoot Drains That Are Always Clogged

If you are dealing with drains that keep clogging, we understand how frustrating and time-consuming it is to try to keep them clear. Knowing the possible causes of a drain clog should help you understand what to do next. But before that, the following troubleshooting tips should help you identify and address the root cause of your persistent clogs.

1. Identify the Problem Area

The first thing you should do is to identify the problem area. Which drains are always clogged? Is it just one shower or sink, or are multiple drains affected? This can help narrow down the cause of the clog. If only one drain is affected, you may have a localized problem. If multiple drains are affected, the problem is likely more widespread, possibly in the main sewer line.

2. Try a Plunger

Once you’ve identified the problem area, use a plunger to clear the clog. A plunger can be an effective tool for clearing minor clogs in sinks, shows, and toilets. Be sure to use a plunger specifically designed for sinks or toilets. These plungers are designed to create a seal around the drain and create the necessary suction to remove the clog.

3. Use a Drain Snake

You may have to use a drain snake if a plunger doesn’t work. A drain snake is a long, flexible cable with a barb or hook on one end. They can be used to break up and remove clogs. All you need to do is insert the snake into the drain and turn it clockwise until you feel resistance. After, slowly pull the snake back while turning counterclockwise, catching and clearing the clog.

4. Clean the Pipes

If neither a plunger nor a drain snake works, the problem may be due to buildup in the pipes. You can try cleaning the pipes using a commercial drain cleaner. Or, you can mix your own using baking soda and white vinegar. Pour the cleaner down the drain and let it sit for several minutes. Then, flush the drain with hot water to remove any buildup.

Get A Pro To Snake Your Drain
Soap scum and organic waste are common reasons for blocked drains.

Clogged Drain FAQs

How often should I have my drains cleaned?

The frequency with which you should have your drains cleaned depends on several factors. It depends on factors such as the age and condition of your plumbing system, the type of waste that goes down your drains, and how frequently you use your plumbing fixtures. But in general, it’s a good idea to have your drains cleaned professionally every 1 to 2 years as a preventative measure. You may have to clean your drains more frequently if you are experiencing frequent clogs or other plumbing issues.

Is it safe to try and clear a clog myself?

It’s generally safe to try clearing a minor clog using a drain snake or plunger. But it’s best to call a professional plumber if you’re not confident in your ability or the clog is more serious. Attempting to clear a clog using harsh chemicals or other methods can be dangerous. They can potentially cause damage to your plumbing system.

Can a clogged drain cause a leak?

A clogged drain can lead to a leak if the blockage is severe enough to cause pressure to build up in the pipes. This pressure can cause joints and connections to loosen or break, potentially causing leaks or water damage. If you suspect you have a clogged drain, it’s important to address the issue promptly to prevent possible damage to your plumbing system.

Hire a Local Plumbing Pro

If none of the above steps work, it may be time to call a professional plumber. A pro can assess the condition of your plumbing system and recommend necessary repairs or upgrades. They may also use specialized equipment, such as a video camera or hydro jet, to identify and remove stubborn clogs.

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