8 Most Common Causes of Clogged Drainage Systems

We all have an idea of the horrors that come with a severely clogged drain system. Wastewater rushing back through your drains, flooding and spoiling your home… But you might not know how such a horrible problem happens, and if you don’t, how will you prevent it?

From hygiene products to mother nature, many forces are working against your drainage system. The more you are aware of the common causes of clogs, the more proactive you can be in maintaining a healthy-flowing plumbing system.

Common Causes of Clogged Drains & How To Fix Drain Clogs

There are plenty of common cloggers known to throw a wrench in your drain line, so it’s all the more important to be cautious of what you flush down your drain and how often you should service it to avoid clogging.


Keeping your hair clean and healthy is an important part of hygiene. Unfortunately, it’s also probably one of the top reasons why drains clog. It binds with grease and soap scum, lodging in your drain line, creating a substantial blockage.

The best way to deal with hair is to prevent it from entering your drain in the first place. Use a drain guard which will catch larger debris, such as hair, which can then be tossed in your waste bin instead.


Body soap, in cahoots with other cloggers like hair, will build up on the walling of your pipe, creating soap scum. Your soap is typically made with grease or fats, which then combines with the minerals in your water, leaving that all-too-common hard residue.

Using soaps with alternative ingredients, or even soap-free washes, will help prevent soap scum from clogging your home.


We all know what happens when dirt gets wet: mud. If you aren’t careful, washing too much dirt down your drain will lead you to a clogging disaster. It’s best to shake off and remove as much loose dirt as possible from what you plan to wash in your sink or tub before you do.

Food Waste

We have garbage disposals for a reason, but plenty of foods are prone to stop up your drain line anyway. Grease and oils are some of your pipe’s worst enemies, and scraps like tea leaves and coffee beans don’t break down like other foods do.

As much as you can, throw food scraps in your trash or compost instead of flushing it down your sink drain. And wipe up any oils with paper towels, and toss those in the trash.

Hard Water

Depending on where your home is regionally located, you could find yourself with a high density of minerals in your water. These minerals will scale in your pipeline to the point of clogging your drain line, certainly not without the help of other common cloggers making it worse.

A common solution for having hard water is installing a water softening system in your home to either neutralize or remove those minerals working against your drain lines.

Too Much Toilet Paper

Although meant to be flushed, too much toilet paper down your drain at once can prove to be an all-too-common clogging problem. Using a plunger may very well solve your problem, but it might be too severe, requiring snaking or other methods of drain clearing.

Small Objects

Sometimes you might find objects which are never supposed to be flushed down a drain, but somehow make it there anyway. (This is especially common when children are in the household. You never know what they’ll flush!)

The blockage might be close enough to your drain for you to reach and remove simply with your hands. Otherwise, you’ll likely need professional help from your trust local plumber to remove the object.

Tree Roots

Little leaks in your piping can attract growing tree roots around your home. They can then invade your drain line and obstruct the passage of your wastewater to your municipal sewer system.

Hydro jetting is an effective solution, utilizing highly-pressurized water to clear any build-up or blockages in your piping.

Effects of Clogged Drainage

It’s good to know what the red flags are for a clogged sewer line. This isn’t a problem that’s simply fixable on your own, and usually requires a professional plumber with access to special equipment.

The signs you’ve got a clogged drainage system include:

  • Gurgling Sounds: If you’ve got a clog, you’ll typically have air bubbles traveling through your pipes as you continue to use your drains. Among plenty of odd sounds, gurgling is most common, but you might also hear hissing, bubbling, or trickling.
  • Clogged Plumbing Fixtures: When you’ve got a completely clogged drain line, your wastewater will have nowhere to go. And since every one of your fixtures connects to your one sewer line, all your sinks, bathtubs, toilets, etc. are all affected and unable to properly drain.
  • Slow-Moving Drains: Slow drainage in fixtures like your sink or tub means there’s only a partial blockage in your sewer line. Your wastewater is drainable, but you’re on your way to complete blockage if it isn’t taken care of soon enough.
  • One way to tell if it’s either a fixture drain clog or an actual sewer line blockage is if you notice slow-moving drains or gurgling sounds in multiple fixtures throughout your home at once. If you’re noticing these symptoms in multiple drains throughout your home, you’ve likely got a clogged sewer line.
  • Dark or Discolored Water: Since your wastewater is carrying waste from fixtures such as your toilets, your water will be dark and discolored. Ew! Essentially, your wastewater has nowhere to drain and will flow back into the nearest point of entry, which is normally a low-level drain in your home. This can be hazardous, so make sure you use proper protective gear when directly handling and cleaning up any sewage backflow.

Preventative Measures

Turn Off Your Water

To ensure matters don’t get worse, disable your main water line to prevent more overflow than may have already occurred. Because you have a habit of using your sinks or toilet multiple times a day, you might forget and add more water to your problem! It also helps keep leaky pipes and automatically draining appliances – like your dishwasher or washing machine – at bay.

Find your water main, which is normally found near your water meter or a corner of your home, and turn the lever until it’s completely off.

Using Baking Soda, White Vinegar, and Boiling Water

Baking soda and vinegar are an effective solution for proactive drain clearing.

Before using any chemical solution, remove any visible debris and standing water that will otherwise dilute it before it reaches your clog. Use a bucket or cup for water removal.

Now to create your solution! Prepare 1 cup baking soda, 1 cup vinegar (any will work, including white vinegar).

With both of your cups of baking soda and vinegar ready at hand, pour half a cup of baking soda down your drain. Take a long stick and coat as much of the interior of your drain as possible, and push it down as far as your stick will allow.

Next, slowly pour half of your cup of vinegar into the drain. You should start to hear fizzing – the chemical reaction between your baking soda and vinegar. Once you hear it, cover your drain with a rag to trap the fumes.

When you hear the fizzing stop, repeat the process with the rest of your baking soda and vinegar you’ve prepared.

After you’ve used all your solution, prepare boiling water. After 30 minutes, slowly pour your hot water down the drain. This will clear up and remove any remaining solution and debris softened by your chemical treatment.

Regularly use your homemade drain cleaning mixture to keep your drain line healthy and clear as much and as long as possible.

When To Call a Plumber: Contact Deer Valley Plumbing

As proactive and preventative as you may be, there are some clogs too much for your typical home plumbing tools and remedies. At Deer Valley Plumbing, we offer emergency services and same-day scheduling so that we can clear those clogs and get those pipes freely flowing again.

We offer drain-clearing methods such as hydro jetting, which ensures you a powerful, long-lasting solution for handling any drain clogging you might be facing. Call us at 602-832-8418 and schedule your next service with us today!

Contact Us for Immediate Service

Choose Experience. Choose Deer Valley Plumbing.

We understand that plumbing problems can cause a major disturbance to your daily routine. When an issue arises, you need a fast, cost-effective solution. Our team is trained to handle any problem you are facing. We are equipped with the knowledge, skills, and tools to perform the service you need when you need it.

Reliable Emergency Plumbing in Phoenix, AZ

Call Deer Valley Plumbing Contractors

today at 602-832-8418 to schedule a plumbing service in Phoenix!