What You Need to Know About Plumbing in San Diego, Part 4: How to Avoid Clogs

sewer camera

Why Does Your Toilet Keep Getting Blocked?

We all know that dreaded feeling. You finish using the restroom and go to flush your toilet, only to find that the toilet simply will not flush. If you have experienced this, you are certainly not alone. Clogged toilets are quite common in American households. They usually happen when excess waste and toilet paper or non-flushable items become lodged in the toilet trap after they are flushed. When there is a large mass stuck in the toilet trap, the toilet continues to clog and flushed materials are more likely to catch and clog. In order to get to the bottom of this potentially unpleasant issue, it is important to understand the root cause of these pesky clogs. Some of the most common causes of toilet clogs include:

  • Hard water

Hard water is water that contains a significant number of dissolved materials like calcium and magnesium. Soft water, on the other hand, is treated water in which the only ion is sodium. The main difference between hard and soft water is evident when doing housework. Hard water is usually the cause of clothes that look dirty even when washed, dishes with spots and residue, and bathtubs with excess layers of film and scum that do not seem to go away no matter how hard you scrub. Furthermore, if the water in your home has a high mineral content, it can cause less visible problems, like toilet function issues and blockages.

  • Damaged or worn-down pipes

Although pipes have a fairly long lifespan, they are not indestructible. Copper pipes are meant to last 70-80 years, brass pipes are meant to last 80-100 years, and galvanized steel pipes are meant to last 80-100 years as well. Even though galvanized steel pipes have a longer lifespan, there is a reason that they stopped being used in the service lines as of the 1960s. This type of plumbing can pose a dangerous health hazard due to the lead that can build up when the pipes corrode. Other types of pipes are prone to corrosion as well, but will not lead to such health hazards. What can happen when pipes become worn-down, however, is that they cause the toilet’s drain to slow down. This inhibits its ability to keep up with the household demand and leads to a clogged toilet.

  • Foreign objects

This is one of the most common reasons that toilets become clogged. To put it simply, someone in the house tried to flush an object that could not be flushed. Some objects that should not be flushed down the toilet, but often are, include feminine hygiene products, baby wipes, cotton balls, and other paper products. Toilet paper is designed to dissolve, but these objects are not. This can create blockages and prevent the toilet from flushing. Using too much toilet paper can have the same effect.

What to Do About a Toilet That Keeps Clogging

If a toilet in your home is clogging frequently, it might not be because of a foreign object or a user error. Rather, there might be a deeper issue going on with your plumbing. When you schedule a visit with one of the plumbers at John Padilla Plumbing, Inc., we will make inspect the situation and work to resolve it. If your toilet is older than 50 years, it will likely need to be replaced.

If the toilet clogs are due to a lack of flushing pressure, replacing an older, low flow toilet is a great way to eliminate clogs and help you flush successfully again. Although toilets are designed to last as long as 50 years, many do not make it to see that landmark. That is because low flow toilets that were manufactured in the mid-1990s tend to be first-generation models that are vulnerable to clogging. If you do not want to replace the entire toilet, we can examine the other fixtures throughout the home that might be contributing to this issue.

Another possibility is that the toilet clog could be due to a clogged sewer line. Sewer line blockages are usually the result of a broken pipe or tree root that has grown into the pipe. They can also be caused by factors like years of grease buildup blocking the pipe. Over time, this grease can harden and turn into a severe blockage. If this is the cause of the issue, it will definitely require professional help.

When it comes to clogged sewer lines, you will usually notice issues with all of the drains in the home before you realize there is a clog. If this happens, it is important to address the issue right away. A clogged sewer line can actually make your home uninhabitable. Once a plumber like the John Padilla Plumbing, Inc. team suspects that there is a clogged sewer, we will take note of the following:

  • There are multiple backed-up drains

Back-ups are common and are usually not complicated, but if an entire group of fixtures in a bathroom is backed up, there is definitely an issue. If there are showers, sinks, and toilets backing up at once, there is likely a block in the sewer line.

  • Floor drains are backing up

More modern homes tend to have floor drains in the basement or somewhere in a utility closet. If the floor drains are backing up, the sewer is probably clogged.

  • The sewer cleanouts contain sewage

Outside of every home, there is a “clean out” access point. It is a piping stack that sticks out of the dirt and lets plumbers clean the home sewer line from the outside. If there is sewer water floating in this area, it is likely that there is a clogged sewer.

  • The drains are funning slowly, despite other efforts to clear them

If we have attempted all of the go-to methods for clearing the drain, and it is still running slowly or clogging frequently, it is a strong possibility that there is an issue with the sewer line.

  • The bathtubs or showers contain sewage

If your sewer line is clogged, the water will not be able to go down the drain. Eventually, it will flow back up the pipes and make its way through the bathtubs or showers. This is never a fun experience, but with the help of a skilled plumber like John Padilla Plumbing, Inc., it does not have to be a lengthy experience.

  • The toilet gurgles when you run water in the bathroom sink

If you are noticing a gurgling noise that occurs when you run water in the bathroom sink, it could be due to trapped air in the plumbing system. It is especially worrisome if the toilet closest to the sink continuously gurgles when you run that sink.

Whether you are encountering a simple clog or an extensive sewer line clog, the team at John Padilla Plumbing, Inc. is here to help with all your clogging issues in San Diego. Give us a call at (858) 375-5633 or contact us online to learn more.

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