The Top 5 Causes of a Blocked Drain and How to Avoid Them

Dealing with a blocked drain is a frustrating and inconvenient problem that many homeowners encounter. Understanding the common causes of blockages can help you take preventive measures to keep your drains flowing freely. In this post, we’ll explore the top 5 causes of a blocked drain and provide valuable tips on how to avoid them.

1. Hair Build-Up

One of the most common culprits of blocked drains is hair build-up. Hair tends to accumulate in bathroom drains, especially in the shower or bathtub. Over time, it can mix with soap residue, creating a stubborn clog.

To avoid hair blockages:

  • Install a drain strainer or hair catcher to trap hair before it goes down the drain.
  • Regularly clean the drain strainer and remove any accumulated hair.

2. Food Waste

Kitchen sinks often fall victim to blockages caused by food waste. Bits of food, oil, grease, and cooking residue can accumulate in the drain and pipes, leading to clogs.

To avoid food waste blockages:

  • Scrape plates and dishes into the trash or compost bin before rinsing them in the sink.
  • Use a sink strainer to catch food particles and dispose of them properly.
  • Avoid pouring cooking oils and grease down the drain; instead, collect them in a container and dispose of them in the trash.

3. Soap Scum and Mineral Build-Up

Soap scum and mineral deposits can accumulate in bathroom drains over time, narrowing the pipe’s diameter and impeding water flow. These substances can stick to the sides of the pipes and attract other debris, leading to blockages.

To prevent soap scum and mineral build-up:

  • Clean the drain regularly using a mixture of vinegar and hot water to dissolve the build-up.
  • Consider using a mild drain cleaner specifically designed to remove soap scum and mineral deposits.

4. Foreign Objects

Foreign objects mistakenly dropped or flushed down the drain can cause severe blockages. Common examples include small toys, jewelry, sanitary products, cotton swabs, and dental floss.

To prevent foreign object blockages:

  • Keep small items away from the bathroom and kitchen sinks.
  • Educate children about what can and cannot be flushed down the toilet.

5. Tree Root Intrusion

Outdoor drains, such as stormwater drains, can be susceptible to blockages caused by tree root intrusion. Tree roots naturally seek sources of water, and if there are cracks or gaps in your drainpipes, they can infiltrate the system.

To avoid tree root intrusion:

  • Regularly inspect and maintain outdoor drains, identifying and repairing any cracks or gaps.
  • Consider planting trees away from drain lines to minimize the risk of root intrusion.

Additional Tips to Maintain Healthy Drains

In addition to the specific causes mentioned above, here are some general tips to maintain healthy drains and prevent blockages:

  • Regular Cleaning: Regularly clean your drains using natural methods like vinegar and baking soda or mild drain cleaners to remove build-up and keep them flowing freely.
  • Hot Water Flush: Once a month, pour a kettle of hot water down your drains to help clear away any accumulated debris.
  • Avoid Chemical Drain Cleaners: Chemical drain cleaners may offer a quick fix, but they can be harsh on your pipes and cause long-term damage. Opt for natural cleaning methods instead.
  • Educate Household Members: Teach everyone in your household about proper drain usage, including what should and shouldn’t be put down the drains.

By following these preventive measures and adopting good drain maintenance habits, you can significantly reduce the risk of blocked drains and maintain a healthy plumbing system in your home.


Blocked drains are a common household nuisance, but they can be avoided with some proactive measures. By understanding the top causes of blockages and implementing preventive strategies, you can keep your drains free-flowing and prevent the inconvenience and expense of dealing with a clogged drain. Remember, if you’re faced with a persistent or severe blockage, it’s always best to consult a professional plumber like Unlimited Plumbing Group to resolve the issue safely and effectively.

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