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What is a Drain Screen?

By R. Anacan
Updated May 16, 2024
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A drain screen is a device that is installed at the top of a plumbing drain for the purpose of preventing debris from entering a drain. Drain screens are made from a variety of materials such as metal, plastic, or rubber. A drain screen is an effective, yet inexpensive means of preventing plumbing problems before they start.

Regardless of the design or the materials, most drain screens work on the same basic principle. They generally consist of a mesh or basket type of design that allows water to flow into the drain, while preventing larger debris from entering. The captured debris may then be removed and discarded from the drain screen as needed.

Most common plumbing problems, such as slow-draining or completely clogged pipes, are generally attributed to the presence of hair, grease and other forms of debris in the plumbing trap. A plumbing trap, commonly known as a P-trap, is a P-shaped or J-shaped segment of pipe located right below the drain. The curve of the plumbing trap keeps a small amount of water in it at all times. The water in the trap forms a barrier that prevents odors from entering a home or building.

In addition to keeping a small amount of water in the plumbing trap, the curve of the pipe can also trap hair, debris and other items that may be accidentally dropped in a drain. Once a drain is clogged, it may require the use of chemical drain openers or mechanical tools such as a plumbing auger or plunger to clear the blockage. Improper use of chemical drain openers or mechanical tools can often cause damage to the plumbing system or harm to the user.

If the use of tools or chemical drain openers does not work, or if the plumbing has been damaged by a clog or blockage, a professional plumber may be required to fix the problem. Using a professional plumber can often be expensive, time-consuming and inconvenient. This is the reason that many people have chosen to install drain screens in their homes or businesses.

Drain screens may be found in the plumbing products or plumbing supplies section of most home improvement and hardware stores and are usually inexpensive. For those interested in purchasing a drain screen, it may help to know it may also be referred to as a hair catcher, drain strainer, or drain filter. Once purchased, installation is generally easy, usually consisting of simply placing the drain screen above the opening to the drain.

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