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Let's talk clogs...again!

Posted 05-28-2009 at 10:15 AM by faucetman886

Although I have addressed clogs in several forms over past blogs, they remain a hot topic on the discussion forums and although I find it hard to believe that EVERYONE in America, for that matter the WORLD, have not been reading my blogs I’m going to address the types and to a certain extent the symptoms of common household clogs again, today. Before I begin you should always keep on hand a plunger, a simple 25’ auger, some liquid drain cleaner and the phone number of a good plumber. Each of these will be cited, as needed, in the examples below.
1. The most common clog that shows up in most households is the toilet. What causes it? Usually inadequate outflow of the drain because of something stuck in the drain or the toilet itself. This something can be an extraordinary bowel movement, too much toilet paper, a kid’s toy or any one of the many things that children try to flush including the family hamster, or can be symptomatic of not enough water to cause the flush to occur. The latter occurring more and more today with the new “green” low cubic feet per minute (CFM) water saving toilets. I see more complaints about these toilets than most anything else and it boils down to brand name. Some brands simply do not work effectively on low CFM regardless of their claims. Consistently TOTO, American standard and Kohler seem to have that market sewn up with toilets that work best. If it is just a water problem a second flush, while defeating the purpose of low flush, will usually solve the problem. If it is a real clog, first try the old standby plunger, every house should have one. DO not waste your money on the high tech complicated and expensive designs or the automated power air push type. These rarely will do the job as well as the simple inexpensive standard plunger that you’ve seen all of your life. Just keep it in a nearby closet because they are not very decorative. If the plunger doesn’t work, and you will know that pretty quickly, then it’s time for the “snake”. The snake is an auger designed to cut through stubborn clogs. These stubborn clogs can be roots growing through your drain line downstream from the toilet and this type of clog can show up in other fixtures in the house.
2. As mentioned above, the main line drain clog is the more difficult and potentially more expensive. This clog usually causes the entire house to back up not just the toilet. The backup from this clog will appear from the lowest point in your plumbing i.e. a basement drain, a sump hole, the tub or shower in the basement and if you have no basement the tub on the first level. This is an unpleasant clog and can cause more unhealthy damage to parts of your home because if it gets out of control it can contaminate your home with harmful effluent and water. If this clog doesn’t clear easy with your own small household auger you will need to call a plumber immediately to affect a repair. These clogs can occur in either a private septic system or a public sewer line.
3. On the subject of the septic system, you can have a back up into your home that resembles a clog because your septic tank is full, the drain field is clogged with roots or if you live in an area plagued with lots of rain your drain field can lose its percolation ability therefore your tank can not drain as it was designed to do. Septic systems are not a DIY project. You will need to contact a septic tank specialty company immediately.
4. Likewise a public sewer system can be compromised by weather, especially if storm drains empty into the local sewer system, and can cause temporary backups into your home. If this is the case your neighbors should be affected also but it will usually occur in the house at the lowest point in the sewer system loop. Hopefully that is not you. In most cases the public utility may be liable for damages but you will still have to suffer through the unpleasant experience.
5. To digress a bit another simple and common household clog happens in the sinks. This is usually caused by a buildup of hair in a bathroom sink, grease and food products in a kitchen sink or the dregs of food materials and grease from a dishwasher. These clogs are the ones that respond most easily with the liquid drain cleaners such as “Liquid Plumber”. You should read and abide by the use instructions on these products because they contain caustic harmful chemicals which can create burns and eye damage. You should also be very careful in trying to plunge or auger a drain after using a liquid drain cleaner because residual product can splash back on you.
I’m sure that there are plethora of other types of clogs and old fashioned remedies, but hopefully this will give you a start on how to diagnose your problem and to help you know how to fix it or get it fixed. I would welcome your additions to the list and personal stories of particularly difficult or even funny clogs in your life. I will try to use as many as possible. Just click on comments and write away or look at the full spectrum of my blogs on my blogsite. The URL can be found here in my profile.Thanks
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