Troubleshooting Slow Drains

Posted on: 16 November 2016

A slow drain may be frustrating or a pain, but many people often just live with it because they either don't know how to fix it or just assume that's how that particular drain is. However, a slow drain could mean that something major is wrong. The following can help you get to the root of the problem.

Count your drains

Your first task is to determine whether this is an isolated issue or a more pervasive problem. Check every drain in your home – sinks, tubs, and floor drains. Note which ones are draining slowly. If it's just one or two drains, and they aren't in the same room or directly above one another on multiple floors, it's likely an isolated problem. If it's multiple drains in the same zone of the home, you will need to be prepared for a more major blockage.

Check the trap

The trap in a sink drain is the curved pipe directly beneath the sink. With the water turned off and bucket beneath the trap, use a pipe wrench to remove this trap. You will likely find the problem – hair, soap scum, or other debris has begun to block the pipe. Remove the gunk and replace the trap, thus solving the problem.

For the tub or shower, the trap isn't easily accessible. Most of these drains have a screen you can remove with needlenose pliers or by twisting and lifting it. There may even be a chain attached, which is designed to hang down the drain and catch the gunk so you can remove it before it forms a clog. If there is no chain, use a plumber's zip-it tool or a long wire with a hook bent into the end to reach down the drain and pull out any gunk.

Diagnosing major concerns

When drains continue to move slowly, especially when the issue is affecting multiple drains, you may have a blockage in a main drain pipe. If the slow drains are only in one section of the house, chances are it is the sewer pipe that connects that sector to the main drain. A plumber can snake it out to the main drain, solving the issue. The main drain may have a clog if all the drains are moving slowly. This can be due to a blockage or tree roots in the drain, which will require a mechanical snake to remove.

Find out more about cleaning your drains by talking to a plumber in your area.