However upsetting they may be, clogged toilets are at least understandable. You usually know why they’re happening, and you know what to do about them. Kitchen sink clogs usually aren’t too tough to figure out either. But then there’s bathroom clogs.
What possible reason could there be for your bathroom sink to clog? The only things that go down your bathroom drains are water and soap. How could you possibly have clogged your bathroom sink? Well: here’s how. These are four common reasons why your bathroom sink is clogged, and what you can do about them.
Hair is the most common reason why bathroom sinks clog. It’s the perfect drain clogging material. Hair clumps together when wet. Pipes walls catch those clumps on their way down. The more pressure the water in your drain exerts on hair, the harder it will clump together. Wet hair in your drain collects more wet hair, until the gross clump fully resists water flow inside the pipe. To make matters worse, that hairy clump collects anything else that’s trying to head down the drain, too.
A particularly pernicious myth about hair in drains is that only some “types” of hair cause clogs. This is not true. Facial hair and pet fur are just as good at clogging drains as any other kind. No matter how fine or thin the hairs are, they will catch on the pipe on their way down. Installing a drain straining device is a quick and effective way to prevent hair from clogging your drain.
Something in P-trap
The p-trap is the bending part of the drain pipe located directly beneath the sink. It connects the sink’s drain to the larger drain pipe leading to the sewer. P-traps bend to prevent toxic and foul-smelling sewer gas from floating back up the drain. The bend in the p-trap also holds water, which helps create the suction required for a drain to clear. The problem is, that bend also tends to catch other things, too.
Smaller items than you’d think can get caught in the p-trap. Rings, earrings, chunks of soap, and even grease can form clogs in the p-trap. If your p-trap clogs, you may hear a strange stuttering noise when water flushes down the drain. You can manually remove the most p-traps from under the sink pretty easily. In most cases, cleaning out the p-trap with an old toothbrush or similar implement will effectively solve the problem. Watch out for old, gross water when you take the p-trap off!
Soap scum usually happens when chemicals in soap react with calcium and magnesium ions present in water. It’s a chalky, filmy substance that clings to the sides of pipe walls and builds up over time. Like hair, this substance catches itself and other falling materials, creating a clog over time. Soap scum can create particularly frustrating clogs because it’s sticky. It’s difficult to pry accumulated soap scum away from pipe walls without a snake or other professional tool.
Though it’s less common, soap-related clogs can still happen if you use a water softener. If excess quantities of soap pour down the drain, some could stick the walls and begin to build up. Heavier chunks of soap may also catch in the p-trap, causing the clogs outlined above. Particularly strong, coarse soap could even damage the pipes, leading to corrosion or rust clogs. Speaking of which…
All kinds of pipe damage can cause clogs. When pipes corrode, the rust built up on the inner pipe walls can constrict water flow. Dented pipes will constrict or completely block off water flow if they’re damaged significantly enough. Even pipe joints can wear out or come apart, which could cause pipes to sag and block water flow. If pipes aren’t securely fastened, they could shift over time until they become displaced or disconnected.
Pipe damage is difficult to avoid entirely. All pipes get old over time, and when they get old enough, they’ll start to corrode or break down. When that happens, the only reliable solution is to install new replacement pipes. If your pipes aren’t old and you’re still having problems, try to figure out why. Are they securely fastened? Are they in a place where they’re easily damaged? If you’re at your wit’s end trying to figure out the problem, you could always call in the pros.
Despite the apparent simplicity of their function, bathroom drains clog for all kinds of different reasons. In fact, yours could be clogged for all kinds of reasons we didn’t even include on this list!
Whatever’s causing your clog, however, there is a solution that will fix it. If you want some help figuring out what that solution is, give Mike Diamond a call any time. We’re happy to help you solve your bathroom sink puzzle.