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Slow Drains: Causes and Solutions

There isn't one single cause of a slow drain. It can happen for numerous reasons depending on the type of drain and whether it's in a sink, tub, or toilet.

A slow drain is a problem that can progress quickly. You might ignore it at first because it's only a minor inconvenience. The water pools slightly in the sink or shower. However, a drain can clog more as time passes. Before you know it, your sink fills up while brushing your teeth, or dirty water creeps up to your ankles while showering.

You must address a slow drain, whether it occurs in one or multiple locations in your home. Cleaning or replacing pipes promptly can prevent a more costly issue in the future.

Common Causes of Slow Drains

There isn't one single cause of a slow drain. It can happen for numerous reasons depending on the type of drain and whether it's in a sink, tub, or toilet.

Below are the most common causes based on the location of the drain.


Toilet drains are significantly larger than other types. It might cause people to flush more materials than they should. A clog can lead to slow drainage from flushed items such as:

  • Feminine hygiene products
  • Wet wipes
  • Cigarette butts
  • Cat litter
  • Excessive wads of toilet paper
  • Cotton swabs
  • Food waste
  • Bandages

Bathroom Drains

Many items end up in shower, tub, and sink drains in bathrooms. Hair commonly gets trapped in the tub stopper or goes down the drain, clogging the pipes. Beard trimmings and shaving cream can form a sticky cement-like substance, causing the sink to drain slowly. A build-up of soap scum can also lead to drainage issues by constricting water flow around the drain.

Washing Machines

Clothing fibers and other materials gather in the lint trap of a dryer. Many people don't realize those fibers can also go down the drain in a washing machine. If the fibers build up or cling together, they won't drain properly, and clogs can form.

Dishwashers and Kitchen Sinks

Although some food is biodegradable, it can remain in kitchen drains for a while. Fats, grease, and oils also clog pipes, slowing water flow and eventually stopping it altogether. Sometimes, grease adheres to food particles, making the clog worse.

Drain Pipes

Homes contain a network of drain pipes running from each drain to the main sewer line. Any material that slows the flow of water down one drain can travel into the drain pipe. It can lead to blockages and restrictions, impacting multiple drains in the home.

Issues with a septic system can cause a backup of sludge into the main sewer line. That can also affect more than one drain.

Keep Your Hair Out of the Shower Drain

One of the most common plumbing issues homeowners encounter is a clogged shower drain. Hair is often the culprit. It might seem impossible to keep your hair out of your shower drain.

However, multiple solutions can minimize or eliminate the amount of hair that ends up in the pipes and prevent slow drainage, such as:

  • Drain covers – You can purchase a mesh screen or another device to place in or over your drain. It will trap hair, pieces of bar soap, and other debris, so they don't end up in the pipes.
  • Brush your hair – You can brush your hair before getting in the shower. Brushing removes weak, dead, and loose hair strands. It can reduce the number of hairs that go down the drain and into the pipes.
  • Flush the drains – You should flush every drain in your home regularly to prevent hair clogs. Close the drains in sinks, tubs, and showers before filling them with warm water. You should gather enough people to flush the toilets and open the drains simultaneously.

Solutions for Fixing a Slow Drain

If you have a single slow drain, fixing the problem should be simple. Removing a bunch of hair or clearing a clog from the pipe shouldn't be complicated.

A store-bought drain cleaner could resolve your slow drain. However, never use drain cleaners that contain harsh chemicals. The chemicals can remain in the drain line if it doesn't dissolve the clog or get stuck in a place water can't reach to flush it out. Those harsh chemicals can cause corrosion, and holes will eventually form in the pipes.

Instead of taking it upon yourself to fix your slow drain, call a professional plumber. You won't risk making the problem worse with a DIY project.

Typically, more than one slow drain indicates a clog in a part of the plumbing system you can't access easily. You need a qualified plumber to locate the source of your slow drains and remove the clog.

Sometimes, clogs aren't responsible for slow drains. Instead, a plumber must repair damage to drain pipes or the main sewer line.

Contact an Experienced Plumber to Fix Your Drain

A slow drain isn't only annoying. It signifies a clog, damaged pipe, or another issue. You should resolve it immediately before it affects your entire drainage system.

Indigo Home & Facility Services offers quality plumbing services and competitive pricing to customers in Austin. We can tackle any drainage problem, big or small. Call us at (512) 608-4999 for an appointment today.