Common reasons for drain clogging (A troubleshooting guide)

We’ve all probably experienced a drain clog once in our life; and we know how troublesome it is to get rid of. Same goes for plumbers, as a blocked drain or a clogged drain pipe are one of the most popular reasons for a call. Plunging a toilet or trying to locate an action figure washed down the drain may solve minor clogging issues, but full obstruction and blockage caused by materials getting stuck there can cause flooding and long term system damage because of the slow drainage and low water pressure that occurs. 

However, there is no need to worry – Clogging is entirely preventable and can be stopped before it happens. Knowing the common causes of a drain clog can help alleviate the mystery of what’s down the sink and save you costly repairs down the road. It is unfortunate to be stuck with a blocked sink or clogged toilet, but depending on the severity, there are ways you can solve these issues at home or with an experienced professional.   

Bathroom Sink

Soap scum

Since the shower and bathroom sinks are used extensively, it’s no surprise that soap scum and debris can start to clog the walls of the bathroom drain. Traditional soap bars are sometimes made of fats or oil, which when combined with minerals in the water, can leave a hard residue on bath tiles and clog the drain pipe. 

Solution: The best way to deal with soap build-up is to remove and maintain your drain stopper. You can also use a drain plunger while also blocking overflow in the tub or sink drains. When cleaning drain stoppers often, you can reduce the amount of clogging that occurs.


While in the bathroom, hair will inevitably build up and clog drain pipes. As one of the top causes for clogs, it is able to accumulate enough to slow flow and block completely. 

Solution: They are often the worst to get rid of, so it’s important to install and keep your drain strainer or sink guard cleaned regularly. Make sure to catch these strands instead of leaving them to sit and build up or removing hair from a hairbrush over the trash can. If hair has already collected or is stuck from it, use needle-nose pliers or long tweezers to routinely pull them out. You can also use an environmentally-friendly drain cleaner which will dissolve hair by snaking the pipe and decreasing the mass. 

Small objects

Often, we might get rings, earrings, hair pins, dental floss, children’s toys, or other things washed down while using the sink or shower. Remember, nothing but water and human waste should go down your bathroom plumbing system.  

Solution: Always properly place waste in the necessary recycling, garbage and compost disposals. These are usually difficult to retrieve, but you can unclog my shutting off the water, unscrewing the P- or J-trap and manually remove them. If you are still experiencing issues or more serious clogging, you must call a professional to handle the situation successfully. 


Tree roots

If you think you are keen on keeping your drains in good shape indoors, the source of the clog may be coming from outside. One of the most notable reasons for a clogged sewer line are overgrown tree roots. They are attracted to the water coming from the line and can infiltrate at the slightest sign of a crack or leak. Though they tend to break pipes of older properties, they are able to penetrate and damage newer pipes made of metal or plastic. Common warning signs of a clogged sewer line from roots are gurgling noises coming from the toilet, slower than normal flow or drain backups.

Solution:  It’s important to take preventative measures when dealing with possible tree root clogging. Having a plumbing inspection done using a sewer video camera every few years can drastically help save your money for a costly removal and repair. Always keep your plants and shrubs in check during the springtime to make sure they are not overgrowing. If it’s too late, there are other ways to get rid of the roots here.   

Toilet paper or wipes

As mentioned before, never flush anything but degradable materials and water down the toilet. Even though they are able to take small amounts of toilet paper, they are designed for human and organic waste and are prone to clogging easily with accumulation of prohibited materials. Save the toilet-paper build-up and other common materials such as condoms and dental floss for the correct garbage disposal. “Flushable wipes” are also a huge factor for toilet clogs. These moist toilettes that have gotten popular over the years, have prompted entire cities to discourage its use and establish lawsuits over the claim that they are able to disintegrate when flushed. They are most likely called “flushable” because of their ability to be fit down the pipe. 

Solution: A small clog can simply be fixed with a toilet plunger. More serious clogging and preventative means takes a professional plumber to solve. They will use manual removal methods like an auger, which can reach up to 5 feet down to break down or retrieve items – untrained use can be unsanitary. There are also high-power jetting and antimicrobial coatings that can be placed to efficiently remove and maintain your toilet drain.

Feminine hygiene products

Similarly to wipes and toilet paper, hygiene products and diapers will cause serious damage to your sewer line when flushed down a toilet. Since they are non-biodegradable and are made out of cotton, they can even attract other clogging agents. Though they may claim or seem to be “flushable”, they do not break down with the natural sewer treatment microorganisms like that of human waste.

Solution: Again, all items that do not readily dissolve in water should be properly disposed of. Have a conversation with your housemates to know exactly what causes toilet clogs and where these products can be thrown out. When all else fails, a plumber will be able to properly resolve your issue using the stated toilet clogging methods

Kitchen Sink

Grease and oil

Grease, oil and fats can be a common enemy of both kitchen and bathroom drains. Grease leaves a sticky residue along the walls of drain pipes and will eventually build up and/or trap food along with it, slowing down the water flow. When cooking, it is essential that we do not pour leftover oil or grease from the pan down the sink. Other things we may not know contain clogging ingredients are ice cream, chocolate, meat trimmings, butter and more. Water will not easily wash down or dissolve this sticky substance, as they are prone to buildup again.

Solution: The best course of action is never to pour grease, oil, and fats down the drain or sink garbage disposal. Try to let your fats and oils cool and solidify before throwing them out in a bag and placed into the garbage can instead. If grease does end up clogging your pipes, a plumbing professional is the safest option to provide appropriate drain cleaning methods. 


The most overlooked things to clog a drain are foods chunks and  sticky, hard, sharp, oily or fatty edible bits. Small eggshells coffee grinds, and pill medication can cause accumulated clogging when not picked up by a sink or drain strainer. Certain foods like bread and rice are because they expand when saturated. Even a build up of food stickers can easily cause a clog – whatever comes with the food we eat, it is usually hard to break down in the drain.

Solution: Place an effective drain catcher with all sinks. Installing a garbage disposal and placing only the foods that are compatible and can be broken down with the system will help stop the accumulation of food. Remember not to associate garbage disposals with trash cans. Avoid throwing foods such as celery, meat skins and bones, pumpkin, potato peels, and tough watermelon and cantaloupe peels into the disposal, as even the strongest cannot break them down. Clogs can also happen when too much material is being dumped together, so it’s good to only place small pieces and let water run before, during and after using a garbage disposal to prevent further clogging. If you are experiencing a food clog, it’s better to use an eco-friendly drain cleaner which uses enzymes and bacteria instead of a chemical-based one, which can be a health hazard around pets and children, as well as deteriorate the inside of pipes over time. Any more serious clogs will need the appropriate plumbing and drain cleaning methods by a trusted professional, to handle a food clog.      

Mineral buildup

Most plumbing systems in the GTA have hard water flowing through their water systems, containing minerals that eventually amass and narrow the width of the pipe. Pipe scale deposits are a consequence of dissolved magnesium, calcium and other metallics that the water can leave behind. They are reactive when in contact with certain temperatures and changing wet and dry conditions. Usually, the scale starts growing in one spot and will continue to develop into an uncontrollable size. This can also cause buildup in appliances such as washing machines and dishwashers.  

Solution: One way to address this issue is to install a water softener if available for your home. A more tedious option would be manually descaling and taking out the mineral buildup. Drain cleaning would give the most successful results for a hard pile up of minerals. A plumber will use various techniques like winding snakes, hand-powered augers, and steam and water pressure solutions to remove the build up as best possible.   

How We Can Help: Plumber Toronto PRO’s Drain Cleaning

The best solution for clogged drains is to

  • Call a professional service
  • Get a quote of your repair or inspection right away
  • Schedule your service as soon as possible

No drain clog is too serious for us to handle. If you are experiencing a tougher-than-normal clogged drain, toilet or shower that can’t seem to be solved, it’s best to leave the hard work to a professional. Our trusted plumbers work 24 hours, 7 days a week to provide immediate emergency service and drain cleaning right when you need it most. We offer clogged drain and plumbing inspections at a quote that works with your budget. Using the latest plumbing technology for the type of clog, from camera inspection to manual techniques, we get your drains running back to normal.   

Call Us For All Your Plumbing

Licensed plumbers Toronto residents count on. As a plumbing technicians, we are here to protect your home and business, meanwhile saving your money for the long run.

Plumber Toronto Pro is known for comprehensive plumbing in Greater Toronto Area for both residential and commercial customers. We are always here when you need us with 24-hour availability, 7 days a week.