Common Causes of Clogged Drains and How to Prevent Them

One of the most annoying plumbing problems that homeowners have to deal with is a clogged drain. No matter what the cause of the clog is, it’s always a pain when it happens. The good news is that you can prevent serious clogs from forming in your pipes and drains. Here are a few of the most common causes of clogged drains and how to prevent them.

10 Most Common Causes of Clogged Drains


This cause is so common, it has its own code name: F.O.G. Fat, oil, and grease (or F.O.G.) don’t belong anywhere near your drains. When these nasty cooking byproducts make their way down your drain, they cool down and solidify into a stubborn (and disgusting) blockage. F.O.G. clogs build up quickly, causing damage to your pipes, leaks, and even flooding.

How to Prevent a F.O.G. Clog

Drain maintenance helps keep fat, oil, and grease from clogging your drains; and the professionals at Benjamin Franklin Plumbing can help.
The best way to prevent your sink or garbage disposal drain from being clogged with fat, oil, or grease is by never pouring them down your drain in the first place. After cooking, pour the byproducts into an empty container, like a coffee can, so you can properly dispose of it later. Use a paper towel to soak up any excess F.O.G. from your pots and pans before rinsing them off.

Hair and Animal Fur

Another one of the common causes of clogged drains, especially in showers and bathtubs, is hair. If you have pets and give them baths in your bathtub or sink, then animal fur can cause a pretty significant clog too. Loose hair and fur combine with soap scum to form thick, persistent clogs in the pipes.

How to Prevent a Hair Clog

Frankly, if you have hair and you take showers, then hair is getting in your pipes. You can cut down on the amount of hair getting into your pipes by using a drain screen. If you have long hair, then brushing your hair before getting in the shower can also cut down on hair clogs in your drain.

It’s also a great idea to invest in yearly drain cleaning services from a professional plumber to keep your pipes clear and healthy. This will extend the lifespan of your pipes, drains, and plumbing system.

Paper Products, Toilet Paper, and Wipes

Toilet paper is the only paper product or hygiene product that should be getting flushed down any of your drains and even then, you shouldn’t be flushing a lot. When you read “flushable” on a container of wipes or paper products, you should immediately be skeptical.

If the paper product doesn’t fully break down, it gets gunked up with soap scum, hair, and anything else in your drain. In no time, you’ve got one heck of a clog.

How to Prevent a Paper Product Clog

Prevent damage to your pipes and possible flooding in your home by simply throwing your paper products in the trash or recycling bin.

Soap Scum

Soap scum is another one of the most common causes of clogged drains in Howell, MI, that's why Benjamin Franklin Plumbing put together one of the most comprehensive drain cleaning programs in the state.
Soap scum is another big culprit of clogged drains. As soap residue slithers down the drain, it clings to the inside of your pipes, often mixing with hair and other materials down there. When that happens, a clog is inevitable.

How to Prevent a Soap Scum Clog

Prevent soap scum from clogging your drain by using a drain screen or mesh trap whenever you use the shower or tub. This eliminates most of the soap and hair going down the drain so you’ll have far fewer clogged bathtubs and shower drains.

You can also keep the drain in your bathtub or shower clear by getting drain cleaning maintenance once per year from the professionals.

Food Scraps

When it comes to clogged sinks or garbage disposals, food scraps are a big problem. These chunks get caught in the drains and continuously build up until you’ve got a mega clog on your hands. You’ve also got to be careful of what types of food you’re putting down the disposal because some types of food are worse than others.

Don’t put things like eggshells, tea leaves, coffee grounds, pasta, or rice down the disposal because these materials can get caught on soap scum and any other obstructions in your pipes, resulting in a seriously clogged sink.

How to Prevent a Food Scrap Clog

Avoid using your sink drain as a garbage disposal. It’s also a good idea to use a drain plug, cover, or screen to help keep food scraps from getting down into the drain.

Mineral Build-Up

If your hot water is not working, then it's time to have the professional plumbers do a sediment check on your water heater; the pros at Benjamin Franklin Plumbing can help!
A major cause of clogged drains is mineral build-up in the system. For systems with hard water, mineral build-up can be an extremely costly problem. Over time the minerals found in hard water build up in your pipes, resulting in reduced water pressure, sluggish flow, and clogged pipes.

Mineral build-up also causes damage to water heaters, eventually wearing them down. Mineral build-up in your plumbing system is definitely something to monitor so you aren’t surprised by extravagant plumbing bills.

How to Prevent a Mineral Build-Up Clog

Preventing clogs from mineral build-up is essential to the health and longevity of your pipes and drains. Installing a water softener is an important first step. If you have hard water, then a water softener will help you get the absolute most out of your pipes and drains.

You should also have your pipes inspected and cleaned at least once per year. Professional drain cleaning services from Benjamin Franklin Plumbing include video pipe inspections so we get a good look inside the pipes. This allows us to monitor any mineral build-up so we can come up with a customized maintenance plan for your situation.

You can prevent mineral build-ups in your water heater by investing in a tankless water heater. This ingenious system eliminates the threat of mineral build-up in your heater and lasts much longer than traditional tank heaters.

Tree Roots

One of the most common causes of clogged drains are rogue tree roots. Because our pipes are mainly underground, tree roots can be a pretty big problem. Over time, roots from trees and other plants spread out, eventually putting your pipes in danger. Without proper planning or regular check ups, it’s difficult to even know when the roots become a problem.

Tree roots find their way into pipes via cracks, gaps, or weaknesses. Once inside, the roots take no time to clog up the pipes. Tree root damage is especially costly because it often results in ruined pipes, and replacing damaged pipes isn’t cheap.

How to Prevent a Tree Root Clog

Preventing clogs in your pipes from tree roots is a little tricky because it’s impossible to observe the roots growing underground. If you’re installing a new plumbing system, avoid laying the pipes near any tree, shrubs, or bushes.

Keep an eye on your pipes by having a professional plumber come out once per year for routine drain cleanings. The professionals use a camera to inspect the inside of your pipes, looking for any blockages, clogs, or damage.

Keep Your Drains Clog-Free

When it comes down to it, the best way to prevent a clogged drain is by being proactive. Investing in yearly, professional drain cleaning services from Benjamin Franklin Plumbing is the best prevention there is. The initial video inspection of your pipes lets our professional plumbers accurately diagnose the problem, allowing them to effectively remove the clog and keep your pipes flowing.

Protect your drains from annoying clogs and damage over time with regular drain cleaning services. Call us today at 810-207-6268 or request an appointment here. You can find more of our helpful tips for your plumbing problems on our blog and follow us on Facebook and Twitter for the latest news and deals!