Are All Drain Clogs the Same?

If you're like many people, you might reach for a bottle of chemical drain cleaner at the first sign of trouble with one of your drains. While convenient, these over-the-counter solutions can be potentially hazardous to both you and your pipes. Additionally, they're a one-size-fits-all approach to a problem that often requires more care and experience to diagnose and resolve.

While it might seem like this "nuclear option" is a good way to clear any clog, professional drain cleaners know that most clogs aren't so simple to resolve. Instead, plumbers will usually come equipped with special tools (including inspection cameras) to determine the cause of the clog before deciding on the most appropriate solution.

What Makes Every Clog a Unique Situation?

Typical drain clogs in residential plumbing range from hair stuck in a shower drain to severe root infiltration in sewer pipes. If the problem isn't too severe, you can often resolve it yourself using a plunger or a small handheld drain snake. These consumer-oriented tools can usually loosen clogs close to the drain, including blockages in p-traps.

Unfortunately, deeper obstructions usually require more firepower. One reason that it's often a bad idea to use chemical cleaners on these blockages is your inability to see the underlying cause. These products cannot clear many non-organic clogs, and they won't necessarily kill roots that may be infesting your sewer pipes.

Even worse, you'll have no way of knowing if you removed the obstruction entirely. For example, greasy build-up on the inner walls of your pipes can often collect other debris that flows do your drain. You may clear the inner portion of the clog but fail to remove the build-up that caused the problem in the first place. Ultimately, this means you can expect the clog to return sooner rather than later.

How Do Plumbers Approach Drain Clogs?

When you've got a severe clog on your hands, plumbers do more than just throw everything they have in their truck at it. Instead, they'll usually begin by asking some questions about when the clog started and trying to determine its location. If the issue doesn't seem close to the affected fixture, the next step will be an inspection with a drain camera.

By gathering as much information about the clog as they can, your plumber can determine the most effective method to clear it. Not only does this mean less time and money for you, but it also helps to protect your pipes. Once they've finished clearing it, they can use their inspection equipment to confirm the clog is gone for good.

While it might seem like all clogs are the same, many require significant amounts of care and consideration to remove. A professional drain cleaning can help you get your drains flowing again by locating and treating the underlying cause of the obstruction.