Hair and Your Drain Pipes: A Guide for Homeowners

Did you know that the average person loses at least 50 hairs a day? For a family of four, that means up to 200 hairs per day could be headed down your shower drain. As it turns out, hair is a plumber’s worst nightmare – causing clogs, backups, and endless headaches. Below, discover the consequences of letting all that hair flow down the drain, along with some tips for keeping it out of your pipes.

What Plumbing Problems Does Hair Cause?

The most common plumbing problem caused by hair is clogs in the drain pipe associated with your shower drain itself. Your drain will usually slow down before it stops draining completely, leaving you standing in a puddle of water as you shower. The risk of such clogs is even higher if you have hard water. The minerals in the hard water react with your soap to form soap scum that adheres to the hair and makes it stick together, forming tougher clogs.

Hair can also travel further down the drain pipes and cause a clog in a larger drain line. If it travels far enough, it may reach patches of greasy residue that originated in your kitchen sink. Grease and hair make for some really tough clogs. When these clogs are found in a larger drain line, they can slow down or block multiple drains in your home – including your toilet.

Sometimes hair even contributes to issues with your main sewer line. If you have roots growing into your main sewer line, hair can get caught on the roots and make the clogs even worse. Plugged main sewer lines can lead to noxious sewage odors, sewage backups, and overflowing toilets.

There’s another problem indirectly caused by the presence of hair in drains. Many homeowners reach for chemical drain cleaners when they first notice a slow drain or clog. Repeated use of drain cleaners to clear hair-based clogs can damage your pipes – leading to leaks and corrosion. Drain cleaners are also a health hazard, causing severe burns and blindness if they get in your eyes.

How Can You Keep Hair Out of Your Pipes?

If your shower only has a standard metal drain guard with holes the size of the pencil eraser, this is not adequate. Hair will flow right down through the big holes. What you really need is a drain guard made from wire mesh or one made from flexible plastic with tiny holes. There are even flexible, silicon drain basket inserts that do an excellent job of catching hair.

You can easily tell if the hair collector you’re using works. Put it in place, take a few showers, and then check for hair. If there’s no hair in the hair collector, then it’s not working.

Also, take steps to keep hair – pet hair in particular – from being sent down the drain by your washer. If your washing machine empties into a laundry sink, put a mesh sleeve over the discharge hose to trap hair. Alternatively, you could put a hair trap in the laundry sink itself. Vacuum or lint brush overly hairy items before washing them.

How Can You Tell if You Have Hair in Your Drains?

If one or more drains are slowing down and you suspect hair is to blame, your plumber can conduct a video camera inspection of your drain and sewer lines to locate the blockage. Then, they can remove the clog with a plumbing snake or by hydro-jetting the drain lines.

Hydro-jetting involves shooting a pressurized stream of water into the drain. This method will also remove soap and grease buildup so these sticky substances don’t keep grabbing onto hair and causing more clogs.

To schedule a video camera inspection of your drain and sewer lines, contact us at Moon Valley Plumbing and Rooter. We’ll get your drains flowing freely again and offer some additional tips to prevent clogs and blockages.