Are you dealing with a slow-draining drain? Perhaps you find yourself standing in an inch of water while showering. Maybe your kitchen sink drains slowly, or it takes an hour or more for your laundry sink to sit empty after use.

Focus is on water draining through a slow-draining drain due to a clog.

Coping with a slow-draining drain can be frustrating. You may have to monitor your tub or sink to keep pets from trying to drink the water, and it makes it hard to clean the tub or sink because the standing water can leave dirt rings behind. These are a few reasons to take action if you have a slow-draining drain. Let’s look at common causes of slow-draining drains, the risks of ignoring a slow drain, and how to know when to call a plumber.

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How Drains Work

Your home contains an intricate plumbing system consisting of fixture drains, traps, and pipes. Fixture drains are the drains you can see in sinks and bathtubs. These drains connect to angled pipes that allow gravity to pull water down. Drains also rely on pressure to force contents down to the sewer system.

Common Causes of Slow Drains

There are several reasons you may have a slow-draining drain, including the following:

  • Debris in pipes
  • Dirt in P-trap
  • Food waste
  • Foreign objects
  • Grease and fat
  • Hair
  • Mineral buildup
  • Sewer problems
  • Tree roots impacting pipes

Although you may be able to see if hair clogs or food waste are blocking your drain, many reasons for slow drainage occur because of obstructions or issues in the pipes, which you may not be able to see.

Potential Risks of Ignoring a Slow-Draining Drain

You must take steps to unclog a slow drain to avoid the following issues:

  • Bacterial growth: If standing water or food particles are in your pipes, bacteria and mold can grow. These pose health risks and can cause diarrhea and fevers.
  • Foul odors: Rotting food and standing water can create bad odors that will infiltrate your home. These odors can cause health issues, including headaches and nausea.
  • Leaks: Pressure from standing water and debris can damage your pipes, causing leaks.
  • Pests: Slow drains create an environment that attracts pests.
  • Structural damage: Water from blocked pipes can go back into your home, causing structural damage. You may also have structural damage if the pipes between your home and the sewer system break.

Tools and Products for Drain Maintenance

Some tools are available for DIY drain unclogging. A drain auger — a plumber’s snake — can remove blockages and clear drains. Sometimes, you may need a drain rod or high-pressure water jetting to clear your drains.

When To Get a Professional Plumber Involved With Your Drain Issues

You should contact a plumber for a slow drain when you notice you have clogged drains and foul odors coming from the drain fixtures. Since clogs can damage your pipes, you should have your plumber assess the issue to determine its severity and ensure you take steps to prevent costly repairs.

Larkin Plumbing Can Help With Your Slow-Draining Drain

Larkin Plumbing’s emergency plumbers are available 24 hours daily to address your plumbing issues. Talking to a professional plumber is the best way to restore your peace of mind and ensure you avoid efforts to fix your slow drain that could damage your pipes.

FAQ

What Causes a Drain To Slow Down?

Narrowed or blocked pipes are the root cause of slow drains. Debris buildup or foreign objects inside the pipes slow the drainage and can cause standing water to build up.

Can I Fix a Slow-Draining Drain Without Calling a Plumber?

You may be able to fix your slow drain by removing the obstruction. However, since plumbers have special tools to see inside the drain and identify the reason for the slow drain, they can tackle the root issue. You may use a plumbing snake to remove a foreign object and solve the issue. However, if the pipe’s obstructed by a tree root or there’s structural damage, you may be unable to fix the slow drain yourself.

How Can I Prevent My Drains From Slowing Down in the Future?

Investing in drain maintenance can help you avoid slow drainage. The following strategies can help you avoid drainage problems:

  • Avoid chemicals: Buying a chemical drain opener may sound like the cheapest and easiest way to fix a slow drain, but you may cause other problems. These harsh chemicals can corrode your pipes, causing severe plumbing issues down the road.
  • Clean the P-trap: Keeping the P-trap clean can help prevent clogs.
  • Drain strainers: Placing a mesh drain strainer in your fixture drains allows you to catch food, hair, and other items before they get pushed down your pipes, where they can build up and cause blockages.
  • Grease-free drains: Do not pour grease down the drain. Choosing alternate methods to dispose of grease prevents drain clogs.
  • Use natural cleaners: You can clean and deodorize sinks, tubs, and pipes with vinegar and baking soda.

Sources:

Plumbing Basics. (2021).

Stickley, A. (2024). How to Fix a Slow Sink Drain: 7 Methods.

Wallender, L. (2023). House Drain System: Parts and Diagram.