Understanding Plumbing Basics
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Understanding Plumbing Basics

As a new homeowner, I can tell you that things aren't always as simple as they appear. I started thinking about it a few years ago, and I realized that there were some serious problems with our plumbing system. We had issues with drains working correctly and toilets flushing like they should, so I started focusing more heavily on understanding the basics of our plumbing system. Within a few short months the entire system was operating more fluidly because of a few changes that I made, so I wanted to create a blog all about my journey. Check out these articles to learn more about the plumbing basics.


Understanding Plumbing Basics

Four Reasons Your Shower Drain Is Always Clogging

Jorge Alexander

Nobody likes showering with inches of water around their ankles. When the water level starts rising, you can bet that your shower drain is clogged. A plunger or some drain cleaner often solves the problem, but what if your clogged drain keeps coming back again and again? Here are four possible reasons why your shower drain always seems to be clogging.

1. You wash your hairy pet in the tub.

The baskets in shower drains are usually designed to prevent human hair from going down the drain, but they do not always stop pet hair, which is shorter and finer. If you bathe your dog or cat in the tub on a regular basis, this could be the cause of your clogs—especially during shedding season.

There are a few ways to address this issue and prevent future clogs. First, get into the habit of brushing your pet to remove excess hair before you bathe him or her. Then, purchase a drain blocker made from fine wire mesh. The removable kind works just fine; you can put it in the drain whenever you bathe your pet, and then store it between baths.

2. You use clay-based soaps.

If you use an all-natural soap, especially one that claims to add moisture to your skin or prevent your skin from drying out, check the ingredient list. Many of these soaps are made with clay, which is great for your skin—but not so good for your drains. The clay can fix itself to the inside of the drain, leading to blockages that grow larger over time. Switch to a soap that does not contain clay. If you really must use clay-based soap for your skin, pour some vinegar down the drain after each use. This will help minimize the amount of clay that sticks to your drain pipes.

3. You have hard water.

Hard water is water that contains higher concentrations of dissolved calcium and magnesium. Hard water is problematic for two reasons. First, it causes minerals to deposit and build up in your pipes—including your drain pipes. Over time, these deposits cause the space inside the pipe to narrow. A pipe that has narrowed due to mineral buildup is more likely to clog simply because the space is narrower. Second, hard water interacts with soap to form more soap scum than is typical. The soap scum clings to your drains and grabs onto any other particles that go down the drain, leading to frequent clogs.

The best approach to dealing with hard water is to install a water softener. This may cost a few hundred dollars up front, but it will save you from repeatedly having to call the plumber to clear shower clogs and address other issues caused by hard water.

4. There's something lodged in the drain.

The problem could be that something like a shampoo cap or toy has become lodged in the drain. Hair may wind around an obstruction, or grime may get caught on it. Hair ties and cat toys are common culprits, too! When you plunge or clean the drain, you remove enough of this grime to sort of get the drain flowing again, but soon enough, it builds up again and your drain re-clogs. You will need to have a plumber snake the pipe to remove the offending item. 

It is not normal for a shower drain to clog repeatedly. Consider the possibility that pet hair, hard water, a lodged item, or clay soap are to blame for you troubles, and then contact a plumber for professional drain cleaning, further investigation, and hopefully a permanent solution.