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Drain Clogged by Cat Litter

The majority of cat owners frequently need cat litter. Sadly, cat litter can cause clogged drains for a number of reasons. Because cat litter is designed to absorb fluids and expand, it can severely clog drains. If cat owners are thinking about cleaning or flushing their cat litter down the drain, they should be aware of this problem.

What Cat Litter is made up of? 

The components of cat litter are important for your cat’s health and well being. Clay and other minerals, natural materials like pine, wheat, or corn, or artificial crystallized silica are the main components of cat litter.

Everest Plumbing Jul 06, 2022
cat littering causing drain clogged
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How Cat Litter Works

Modern cat litters are made to absorb moisture from feces and urine to lessen odor. The clay granules start working to absorb the liquid as soon as the cat urinates on the litter. While non-clumping litters just absorb the pee without producing any clumps, certain litters contain clumping agents (bentonite clay), which cause the urine and clay to remain together, making a huge, scoopable clump. Granules of cat litter can take up their weight in liquid.

The cause of Litter in a Drain

Litter entering a sewer most frequently occurs because the owner intentionally poured it there, especially into toilets. However, cat litter can also accidentally enter sink and bathtub drains by simply being rinsed out of the litter box, by a young child, or even over time from a cat’s feet. Despite some manufacturers’ claims that their litter is flushable, many plumbers advise against flushing any kind of litter.

How to Clear a Clogged Drain of Litter

There are many reasons why cat litter should not be flushed down the toilet or placed in a sink or shower drain, but the most crucial one has to do with water flow. Clogs could be caused by either flushable or non-flushable cat litter.

You only need to look at the incredibly solid clumps it makes whenever the cat uses it to understand that.

Because flush-able cat litter absorbs water, sticks to the edges of pipes, and clogs more gradually than clay-based litter does, it is not suggested to flush-able cat litter down any drain. Both used cat litter and cat litter in the sewer or septic system are full of possibly hazardous microorganisms that you don’t want to bring to the municipal waste processing system. If you’re reading this alert a little bit too late and you already have a blockage, use mechanical, not chemical, measures to clear it.

Don’t dissolve cat litter with chemicals.

The majority of fast-acting drain cleaners contain sodium hydroxide, which transforms greases and oils—which are responsible for the majority of clogs—into a soapy solution that can be flushed away with water. Clay, pine chips, corn and wheat husks, and other components included in flush-able litter will not dissolve, and neither will extremely strong drain cleaners, which dissolve muck through a separate chemical reaction. The inorganic components of cat litter won’t be much impacted by enzyme-based drain cleaners either.

Cat litter cannot be broken down by chemical drain cleaners, therefore it remains in the pipes. They can harm the pipes since they produce heat when reacting with materials other than litter in the drain. Anyone who disassembles the pipes to clear the clog risks getting flesh burns if these substances splash back out of the drain.

Plunge and snake initially

90 percent of blockages, such as those brought on by cat litter, may be cleared with the proper use of a plunger. Make absolutely sure you’re using the right plunger because a toilet blockage is difficult to clear with a dome-shaped sink plunger. A bell-shaped or bellows-style toilet pusher is required for that.

Load the sink with roughly one inch of water to unclog the drain. To plunge only water rather than just compressing air, submerge the plunger and tilt it to lift one side and allow air out. The obstruction should be cleared by several forceful pumps that send it on its path. When unclogging a toilet, follow the same procedure to fill the plunger with water.

If you are unsuccessful, you might find success with an auger, sometimes known as a snake. They are available in two varieties: one for toilets and the other for fixtures other than toilets. When the snake can no longer move any further, feed it into the drain and turn the handle to twist the head and eat through the clog.

You might need to take the pipes apart.

You don’t have entry to the drain pipes and P-trap if you dropped cat litter in the bathtub or poured it down the shower drain, so you’ll likely need to call a professional to unclog a blockage that won’t go away with a pusher or snake. With a sink drain, the situation is different. The P-trap can be properly cleaned and is accessible and simple to remove. Eliminating the trap also makes it easier for a sink auger to dig further down the drain.

Find a clean-out on the waste line and insert the auger there to clear a persistent clog in your toilet. If not, one should be in the basement or close to the house. If there isn’t a clean-out nearby your toilet, there might be one nearby.

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