Having clogged drains in your Shreveport, LA home is no minor inconvenience. If left unchecked, these common plumbing problems can cause significant and widespread damage. They can also affect the health of your entire household and render your living space temporarily uninhabitable. Read on to explore the many hidden dangers and costs of drain blockages.

A Breeding Ground for Bacteria

Whenever water movement slows or stops outright, bacteria thrive. Whether you have a blocked bathroom pipe or kitchen sink, you can expect the trapped water to become increasingly slimy and smelly. Unfortunately, in high-traffic areas, the likelihood of exposure to stagnant water is often high. Even when important plumbing appliances are no longer working, people tend to carry on with their normal business.

Taking care of clogged and slow-moving drains right away is the best way to ensure that no one gets sick. From errant splashes to dropped toothbrushes, combs, and serving utensils, there are countless ways in which dangerous pathogens can find their way into the human body.

Slow-Moving Drains Breed Bacteria

Slow-moving drains are breeding grounds for bacteria as well. If you find yourself standing ankle-deep in your own gray water while showering, you aren’t really getting clean. When the movement of wastewater slows, bathroom drains tend to develop heavier coatings of soap scum, hair, body oils, and biofilm.

Pervasive Drain Odors

The longer that water stays trapped in your sinks and tubs, the more it will smell. As concentrations of odor-causing bacteria increase, you may be able to smell your plumbing problem even when standing in a completely different room. The only way to get rid of the stench and make sure that it’s gone for good is by targeting the issue at its source.

Increased Humidity

The water in clogged sinks, bathtubs, and shower pans eventually evaporates. Failing to resolve a blocked drain can make the interior of your home feel very humid. With multiple blocked drains, you’ll eventually have condensation on your mirrors, windows, drywall, and other nearby surfaces.

Mold Development

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the ideal humidity for building interiors is between 30% and 50%. While other sources list 40% to 60% as a more attainable target, the EPA asserts that having indoor humidity near 60% creates the perfect conditions for mold development. Worse still, as per the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, mold spores form within just 48 hours after any backup, flood, or event that significantly raises indoor humidity. If your bathroom sink clogs or if all of your drains malfunction on a Friday night, you don’t want to wait until Monday morning to call a plumber.

Ruptured Pipes

Attempting to unclog blocked drains on your own could lead to pipe ruptures and other pipe damage. Heavy or sharp debris can puncture old and worn pipes or cause them to crack. Using caustic or corrosive drain cleaners can eat through pipe materials and create messy, in-wall leaks. Even using the wrong mechanical drain cleaning tools can cause pipe damage. When clogged drains lead to cracked, punctured, or severely degraded pipes, moisture damage can occur at:

  • Baseboards
  • Floors
  • Sub-floors
  • Drywall

When pipes crack or rupture in low-lying areas, moisture damage can even occur at the building’s foundation.

Drain Blockages Caused by Sewer Line Problems

While having even a single clogged or slow-moving drain is problematic, having all of your drains malfunction at once is far worse. All the drains in a house converge into a single, underground sewer line. When this line is blocked, waste and wastewater have nowhere to go.

If you don’t take care of sewer line blockages in a timely fashion, this same effluence could come back up into your home. If it does, it will fill all connected drains, plumbing fixtures, and appliances. Everything from your bathtub to your dishwasher and washing machine could be filled with dangerous pathogens and filth.

Commonly referred to as whole-house backups, these events can lead to thousands of dollars in property damage. More importantly, when they’re determined to be the result of homeowner negligence or preventable issues, home insurance plans rarely cover them.

Landscape Damage

When clogged drains and whole-house backups are caused by problems at your home’s sewer line, you may have pervasive sewer gas odors in your yard, standing pools of wastewater, soft, marshy soil, and all-around unusable terrain. Many sewer line problems can also lead to lingering issues with soil and groundwater contamination.

Pest Problems

Damaged sewer lines and blocked or slow-moving drains are also highly attractive to pests, including:

  • Silverfish
  • Drain flies
  • Subterranean termites
  • Ants
  • Cockroaches

Unfortunately, unchecked plumbing problems are also known to draw in rodents. Rats, mice, and other small-sized animals could start congregating in or near your house due to its highly accessible water supply. These pests aren’t typically bothered by the bacteria in foul, stagnant water.

Drain-related pest infestations can lead to gnaw marks on wood furnishings and building features and damaged electrical wiring. Beyond devaluing properties, pests can also cause serious diseases.

Common Causes of Blocked Drains and How to Prevent Them

The good news is that most drain issues are highly preventable or easily corrected. The best way to keep drain problems and the resulting damage to a minimum is to identify them early on and schedule professional plumbing service as soon as possible.

Cracked, Blocked, Collapsed, and Offset Sewer Lines

Underground sewer lines have an average lifespan of 50 years. Throughout this time, you can keep your sewer line protected by never setting up heavy equipment in this portion of your yard. Avoid planting trees too close to this underground utility, and stay on top of all general landscape maintenance. These efforts will prevent aggressive tree roots and weeds from encroaching on your sewer pipe. They’ll also prevent dangerous soil shifting and excess pressure on the sewer line itself.

Slow-Degrading Items

Never send “flushable” wipes down your toilets. You should also avoid flushing paper towels, sanitary napkins, cotton swabs, and other slow-degrading items.

Flushable wipes are far more durable than toilet paper. Many of these products are reinforced with durable polymers. They can remain completely intact for weeks or even months after they’ve been disposed of. Once in your sewer line, these wipes will attract and retain fat and clump together with other flushable wipes. The resulting formations are known as smallbergs. Smallbergs can clog sewer lines or move on to municipal sewer systems, where they’ll grow larger and cause greater problems.

Slow-degrading items can also get snagged on rough pipe interiors, coarse buildups of hard water minerals, or tree roots and weeds that have already encroached on sewer pipes. The buildup of trapped waste and slow-degrading items gives waste and wastewater increasingly less room to move through.

DIY Drain Repairs

One easy way to turn a minor plumbing issue into a major blockage is to use a drain snake or drain auger for DIY drain repairs. Until you know exactly what an obstruction is, it’s best to avoid any drain-cleaning activity that might force it deeper into your pipes.

We help residents of Shreveport maintain high-functioning plumbing systems. We offer expert plumbing, leak detection, drain cleaning, and sewer replacement services. If you need to schedule a drain repair, give Bobby L Greene Plumbing, Heating & Cooling Co. a call today.

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