Drains are essential conduits that help wastewater leave the home. Although drains are crucial components within any plumbing system, it is easy to take these structures for granted until major problems arise in the household. From slow drains to clogs, learning how to identify different types of drain issues early can save you the stress of a plumbing emergency later. In fact, fixing a drain issue before it worsens is often much more practical than letting the problem escalate until it requires a major excavation or extensive re-piping. A look at the most widespread kinds of drain issues can equip you with the knowledge to keep your drains healthy and functional.

Slow Drainage

Slow drainage can cause stagnant water due to a reduced flow rate. Culprits of slow drains include obstructions or blockages, debris or sediment buildup, or pipe corrosion. Stubborn blockages often require professional drain cleaning, and rust or corrosion may require hydro-jetting to remove the accumulation of buildup. Specific fixtures or household structures also have unique challenges that can create slow-moving drains.

Slow-Draining Sinks

Kitchen sinks can begin to drain slowly due to the accumulation of grease, food particles, and soap scum from dishwashing liquid. While using a mesh strainer can help prevent solid food particles from going down the drain, this device will not stop greasy liquids from sliding down the drain.

Grease is especially harmful since it solidifies as it cools and hardens on the walls of pipes. Once stuck in your piping, grease can also trap other debris and cause fatty clogs. While it may be tempting to speed up water flow by pouring store-bought cleaners down the drain, these commercial products from the hardware store often contain harsh or abrasive chemicals that weaken and damage your pipes. Trained professionals have the tools needed to fix sinks without destroying the plumbing system.

Slow-Draining Bathtubs or Shower Stalls

Bathtubs and showers can begin to drain slowly due to the accumulation of hair, soap scum, bath oils, or personal care products. This residue can create a tangled mess that blocks the proper flow of wastewater.

Some experts recommend using a drain cover to catch hair before it becomes trapped in the pipe. However, drain covers can do little to stop dried soap scum. If water has begun to pool in your bathtub or shower instead of flowing from your bathroom within seconds, it is time to reach out to a professional for bathroom drain cleaning. Plumbers have specializing snaking equipment that can safely remove clogs without damaging your property.

Wastewater Backup

Since the point of a drain is to direct water away from the home, any type of water backing up into the sink is a sign of a serious problem. For example, if a major obstruction blocks the flow of water completely, the water has nowhere to go but back up the pipe. Damage that causes wastewater backups include clogs, collapsed pipes, or even ground shifting due to seasonal or environmental changes. This can be either a localized issue or a problem with damage to your main sewer or pipeline. It is important to deal with wastewater backup immediately since exposure to bacteria or toxins can present a health hazard to all home occupants.

Foul Odors From Drains

Foul smells from drains are unpleasant and can also indicate an underlying problem. For example, musty or stale odors can signify an accumulation of mold or mildew. Rotting odors can result from trapped food particles or even sewer gases rising from damaged pipes. Consult with a professional about persistent or unbearable odors to determine whether they simply require a deep drain cleaning or more serious repairs.

Foul Kitchen Odors

Bad kitchen odors often arise from a buildup of decaying material. When food particles or other organic materials become stuck in the drain, they can begin to decompose and emit odors. Bacteria that feed on organic materials can also emit unusual odors. Furthermore, the dark and moist conditions of a drain can accelerate mold growth on old food particles. Since mold spores can pose a health hazard to individuals with compromised immune systems or pre-existing illnesses, it is important to have a professional investigate any persistent rotting or moldy smells.

Foul Bathroom Odors

Strong sewer smells almost always signify an underlying plumbing problem. For example, a dry or compromised tap can allow sewer gas or other harmful fumes to seep into the home. Problems like blockages in the sewer lines or even broken sewer pipes can also bad odors. Any form of sewage can contain dangerous toxins, so it is essential to diagnose this issue quickly to ensure safe and livable conditions within your household.

Unusual Sounds From Drains

Strange noises can also indicate that you need drain repair. Pay attention to any bubbling or gurgling sounds from sink drains or shower drains. In particular, gurgling noises often signify that there is air trapped in your pipes. Trapped air can build up in the pipes due to blockage. As the flow of water attempts to displace this air buildup, bubbles form and produce a gurgling sound.

In addition, venting problems can also strange sounds. For example, sewer lines that struggle to draw air, you may have a venting problem on your hands that is now restricting airflow. Since vents are often located out of reach, it is usually more practical to get a professional to repair a vent rather than attempting to fix it yourself.

Multiple Clogged Drains

While a single clog is unpleasant, many homeowners first tackle the issue with the help of a plunger. However, multiple clogs at the same time can indicate a problem with your plumbing main line. This is a serious issue that requires expert intervention for underground correction or repairs.

Pests in Drains

The presence of pests in drains is quite unsettling, but it is often a sign of a larger plumbing issue. For example, persistent gnats or fruit flies almost always indicate stagnant water. Other pests may seek out moisture through cracks in your plumbing joints. Plumbers can help identify and seal entry points so that your drains do not serve as breeding grounds for insects.

Tree Root Intrusion in Drain Lines

Root intrusion occurs underground when tree roots grow toward sources of moisture like drain lines or sewer lines. Surprisingly strong and flexible, tree roots can infiltrate cracks or fractures in your plumbing in order to reach nutrients and water. Both the species of tree as well as the location of pipes near vegetation can increase the risk of intrusion. Other factors that can heighten the risk of root intrusion include soil type, environmental climate, and the age and maintenance of the drain lines themselves.

While factors like soil or climate may feel out of your control, keeping up with annual inspections or maintenance may help stop intrusion in its tracks. If you suspect that you already have root infiltration, a plumber can use advanced diagnostics like video camera inspections to locate the intrusion. Some plumbers also focus on the most non-invasive techniques possible for excavating the area and removing the root.

Get Help From the Experts Today

Drain issues disrupt everyday activities and compromise quality of life within your home. Fortunately, the experts can help. J&W Heating and Air + Plumbing provides top-notch plumbing services for homes located in Jacksonville, FL and the surrounding areas. We offer drain inspections and maintenance, and we can repair or replace any connected fixtures as well. Our plumbers are happy to help with old drains and resolve issues ranging from cracks to corrosion.

If you find the problem is more severe, we also offer whole-home repiping to make your system like new again. No matter the drain dilemma, our experienced plumbers can help. Contact J&W Heating and Air + Plumbing today for all residential plumbing needs.

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