Nearly every home will have a blocked or clogged drain at one time or another, as it's not unusual for hair, soap scum and other debris to get caught in shower and sink traps and pipes; food debris and cooking oils can also cause blockages in kitchen sinks. If you're a homeowner, you might note some common questions about blocked drains so you know to get these addressed properly and so you know how to protect your home's plumbing pipes from damage as well.
Why don't drain cleaners always work to clear shower drains?
Drain cleaners contain caustic chemicals that are meant to break down soap scum, grease and oil and other such debris. However, these chemicals don't always break down the hair clumps that are often the cause of shower drain blockages.
If your home's shower drain is clogged, it's good to remove the stopper above the drain and dig out any hair clumps. Once you've done that, you can replace the stopper and note if the drain is working properly. If not, then you might try a chemical cleaner. If that product doesn't work, it's time to call a plumber to address the problem.
Why would a home have consistent or persistent clogs?
An occasional clogged drain is normal for a home, but persistent clogs often signal damage to the plumbing pipes outside the home. If an exterior pipe has cracked, dirt and sediment may then get inside the pipe, causing a clog. In turn, your home's showers or sink drains don't empty as they should, or the toilets may not flush properly. Rather than continuously using drain cleaner or assuming you always need to plunge the toilets, call a plumber to find the reason for those persistently clogged pipes.
If drains or toilets empty but have a bad odour, does this mean they're clogged?
A clog in the plumbing pipes outside the home can cause a bad odour, but unpleasant smells from drains often mean that there is a damaged trap, vent or other plumbing piece that needs replacing. Traps, vents and connectors to plumbing pipes work to keep fumes from exterior plumbing pipes out of the pipes that are in the home. Vents also work to vent that air away from the home's plumbing fixtures. In turn, your home's sinks, showers and toilets should never have a bad smell, especially if they're not clogged! If you notice this persistent odour, call a plumber who can check on those plumbing pieces for you.