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The introduction of the first water-retaining traps or seals in the 1850s, and the common use of "U"-shaped traps in the 1870s, were major steps forward. The design of the trap ensured that enough water remained in it to effectively block the passage of sewer gas back through the plumbing fixtures. During the 1870s vent pipes were introduced. They not only carried sewer gas out of the system, but also broke the suction created by movement of liquid in the pipes and eliminated the possibility of siphoning water that sealed the traps.
The most common residential drain to cause problems is the kitchen sink drain. Food particles, grease, soap or detergent build up can all, over time, slow down or completely block the flow of water down to the septic or sewer system. A garbage disposal as well as an installed dishwasher add more pipes to the mix which create more potential for clogs.
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