How Do Drains Get Clogged, Anyway?

The average human has 100,000 hairs on their head. Blondes have more hair with around 140,000 while redheads have the least with about 90,000. The average adult will lose between 60 and 100 hairs every day. Most of these go down a drain. But where is the clog?

Many people believe hair will collect in the trap and form a clog. But the trap is not designed to protect your drains from stuff being dropped down the sink. It is there to prevent sewer smells from rising into your house. So again, where does all that hair go?

Most modern drains come with a stopper mechanism, a series of levers located just below the opening of your sink, tub or shower that opens and closes the drain. While a great convenience, it is here, at the stopper mechanism, where 90 percent of clogs form. Your hair slips down the drain and catches on a bar just a few inches below where it disappears from your sight. It hangs there and builds up with all your other hairs until a clog forms. So what’s the best way to remove all those hairs hanging on your stopper mechanism?

Not chemical drain cleaners. Because they’re a liquid they pour into the trap. But we already know there aren’t any clogs there. Chemical drain cleaners flow right past problem. Now you know why they never work.

The best solution is Zip-It. Zip-It is a long, thin, flexible piece of plastic with barbs running along its edge. Push it into a clogged drain, pull it back out, and Zip-It will pull out all your missing hair. Zip-It is designed to deal precisely with what a clog is: your hair caught on a stopper mechanism. No other tool on the market targets the problem so specifically.

Steps to Unclogging Your Drains

Drains are hidden heroes in your home. If you’re lucky, you can go for years without thinking about them, but when dirty sink water suddenly won’t go away or a toilet won’t flush, they can be a major frustration. A plugged drain certainly demands attention, but fixing it is probably something you can do yourself. You’ll get faster results than calling a pro, and you’ll save money, too.

Certain parts of every drain system are prone to blockage, so it pays to understand where typical trouble zones might exist before an emergency arises.

Plugged drains are most likely to occur in one specific place: curved sections of pipes called “traps” that exist underneath sinks, tubs and showers.

Before you spend a lot of time trying to unplug a sink or toilet, and regardless of where the blockage seems to be located, start with a simple check: Run some water down the other drains in your house. Do the others flow freely? If not, your trouble probably involves more than meets the eye and could actually be part of a systemic problem.

Before you try to clear what looks like a small, localized blockage, take a quick look at the big picture. You’ll either know you’re on the right track or save yourself from wasting time trying to solve the wrong problem.

Fixing Clogs in Sink, Tub or Shower Drains

The most likely spot for a sink drain to clog is about 6 inches below the drain opening in a section of curved pipe called the trap. It’s an essential feature of every drain, but potentially troublesome, too. Traps keep nasty (and lethal) sewer gases from wafting up into your home by retaining small amounts of water in the U-shaped bottom section. This water seals the pipe opening so gases can’t sneak past. Curves of any sort in a drainpipe, especially as tight as those in a trap, encourage blockages. This is where the vast majority of sink, tub and shower blockages occur.

Although you can certainly use a traditional drain snake to clear the clog, you can often avoid some hassle and expense by using a disposable drain tool called a Zip-It, which is available for only a few bucks at your local hardware store. You can also order them online at retailers such as Amazon. Once you’ve got your hands on a Zip-It, check out the instructions on this page to quickly and easily remove your clogs.

If the blockage isn’t near enough to the sink to reach with a Zip-It or a drain snake, look for other places to gain entry to the pipe. Building codes require that drain systems include clean-out ports at strategic locations. Unscrew the cover to gain access to pipes for augering, which will require a hand-operated drain augur such as the RM-25SM from General Pipe Cleaners. Find it on Amazon here.