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Drain Pipe Problems Can Have Multiple Causes

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Drain pipe is typically made of either iron or PVC pipe. Kitchen and bathroom sink drain pipe is typically either 1-1/4 or 1-1/2 inch. For laundry facilities, the diameter is usually 2-inch and toilet drain pipes are typically three inches in diameter.

The Right Size Drain Pipe for the Job

Although it seems logical to think that larger drain pipe would provide better drainage, this is not the case. Larger pipe actually dissipates the gravitational pressure that is created as waste moves through the pipe. Likewise, drain pipe that is too small for the intended use is prone to clogging.

The Drain Trap

All drains incorporate a curved section of pipe called a trap. Drain traps are designed to hold water that forms a seal to prevent noxious sewer gases from rising through sewer lines and being emitted into your home. Traps also prevent small objects that accidentally enter the drain lines from being swept into the sewer mains. Unfortunately, the curved design of drain traps also causes them to become clogged.

Clogs that occur in trap pipes can usually be removed fairly easily. In some cases the obstruction can be cleared by dissolving or forcing the material creating the clog through the trap. Minor clogs can often be loosed with chemical drain cleaners. More stubborn clogs may require the use of a plunger or sewer snake. More severe clogs may require that the trap be removed.

The Correct Slope for Your Drain Pipe

Improper sloping is another cause of drain pipe problems. The minimum suggested slope is 1/4-inch per foot of pipe. Drain pipes that slope less than the prescribed amount are more prone to clogging.

Proper Venting

To relieve excess pressure that can build up in drain pipes, plumbing fixtures are equipped with vent pipes that connect to the home's main vent stack that exhausts through the home's roof or exterior walls. In rare cases, the vents can become obstructed. When this happens, pressure can build in the drain pipe and cause water and waste to drain more slowly.

Clogs in the Sewer Main

If more than one plumbing fixture is experiencing problems, the reason could be a clog in the main drain pipe. The main drain line connects all the drain pipes in your home to the sewer main. In addition to clogs created by household waste including hair, tissues, food particles and grease, the main drain pipe can become obstructed by tree roots and dirt.

Enlisting the Help of a Drain Specialist

Depending on your level of plumbing skill and the tools in your plumbing arsenal, you may choose to tackle some repairs yourself. However, for the novice plumber, this can lead to a frustrating waste of time and money.

Because of their skill and experience, a professional plumber can usually diagnose and fix virtually any drain pipe problem you may be experiencing in less time and, in many cases, for less cost than attempting the repair yourself. An added benefit is that most reputable plumbers offer guarantees on their work and can usually offer advice on how to prevent the problem from returning.

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