Drains that suddenly seize up and create a pool of water in your sink or tub are unfortunately common, but once you figure out what caused the clog, it’s a lot easier to avoid future problems. The causes of clogs can be divided into acute and chronic or slow-building, and most have a fast solution.
Your sink was fine this morning, but now it’s backing up like a freeway during rush hour. These sudden clogs are usually caused by someone putting a lot of material down the sink drain that won’t actually clear the drain. If you have little kids in the house, for example, it’s possible one of them stuffed something like paper down the drain.
Chronic or Slow-Building Clogs
These clogs form slowly over time as more and more material builds up along the drain’s walls. These materials can be hair, soap scum, scale from hard water, biofilm (a mucky substance that naturally builds in damp pipes), or a combination of any of those. Drains with garbage disposals often clog up when too much food debris dries on and jams the disposal’s impellers.
All of those are easy to clear, either with baking soda and vinegar or a drain snake. Every couple of weeks, place some baking soda and vinegar down the drain to keep it open. Place a net over the opening of the drain, too, to catch hair. You can also try using enzymatic cleaners if biofilm is a problem, but please avoid chemical drain openers – these are corrosive and don’t always work!
For problems that just don’t seem to get better, contact a plumber and have your drains professionally cleaned. Get a fresh start so you can keep that water running freely.