How to Prevent a Clogged Drain
A clogged drain is more than just an inconvenience. Left unattended, it can lead to sewage backups and expensive water damage.
Many clogs can be prevented by avoiding foreign objects that don’t break down, setting up a compost bin for food waste, and using natural drain cleaning techniques. Plumbers Aurora CO use a plumbing snake or chemical drain cleaners when plunging doesn’t work.
Many homeowners think it’s safe to dump cooking fats and grease down the drain, but these substances cling to pipes as they cool, coating the walls and forming tough clogs. A simple way to prevent these clogs is to pour used cooking grease into a can or jar for later disposal in the trash. Another option is to use a drain strainer, which catches food particles and allows water to flow freely through the sink.
Besides blocking drains, clogged pipes can also attract pests, including rodents and flies. Standing water in the pipe can also produce a pungent odor that makes living in your home less pleasant.
Fibrous foods like celery, asparagus and artichokes can tangle in your sink drains and contribute to clogs. Even if you have a garbage disposal that can chop these items up into smaller fragments, the fibrous material can still wrap around drainpipes and slow down or block the drain. Cooking oil, fats and grease pose the greatest risk to your drainpipes and sewer system. Avoid dumping these liquids down your kitchen sink by pouring them into a can or jar for later garbage disposal, and use a deep fryer to cook your food instead of the stovetop.
Flour is another substance that can clump and clog your drain. This mixture of water and starch creates a gooey, paste-like consistency that can form tough clogs. Pouring boiling water down a slow drain can help dissolve these clogs and allow water to flow through the pipes again.
Other foods that can cause problems include pasta and rice, which expand in the water they’re cooked in. Eggshells can also contribute to clogged kitchen drains, especially if they’re not chopped up in the garbage disposal. Unused medications are a common contributor to toilet and sink clogs, so it’s important to keep these and other potentially dangerous items out of the kitchen and bathroom.
If you’re unable to clear a food-related clog, mix baking soda and vinegar in the sink drain and let it sit for up to an hour. This method can work on many types of clogs, but it’s best to try this when the clog is caused by grease and other substances that can harden in your pipes.
Chemical drain cleaners are a common household item found in cleaning cabinets, but these products aren’t good for you or the environment. If these chemicals come into contact with your skin or if you breathe in their fumes, they can cause irritation. If you use them too often, they may even damage your pipes.
Most caustic chemical drain cleaners contain sulfuric acid or hydrochloric acid, which breaks down clogs and dissolves grease, hair, and organic materials. These types of cleaners are effective against small clogs, but they can eat away at your pipe walls over time and cause leaks.
Oxidizing chemical cleaners use oxygen-releasing ingredients like bleach, peroxides, and nitrates to break down clogs and kill bacteria. They’re best for organic clogs, such as hair and soap scum.
These chemicals can also irritate your eyes and skin, causing redness, itching, and burning. In addition, if these cleaners spill overflow on you or your countertops, they can be very dangerous. They’re also extremely harmful to the environment, releasing toxic fumes and contaminating soil and ground water.
When these chemicals are poured down your drain, they sit in your pipe for a while to try and break down the clog. In the meantime, they eat away at your pipes, leading to corrosion and pitting. They can also contaminate the water supply if they seep into your home’s plumbing system.
Instead of using chemical drain cleaners, you can safely clear most clogs with hot water and baking soda. Start by pouring the mixture down your drain, then let it sit for a few minutes before rinsing it with hot water. If the clog persists, try a plunger and a plumber’s snake. If all else fails, call a professional plumbing company that offers environmentally friendly clog removal services such as snaking and hydro-jetting. These methods are safer for your pipes, the environment, and your health. They can also be much more effective than chemical cleaners.
Feminine hygiene products (like tampons, diapers and wipes) should never be flushed down toilets. Not only are they not biodegradable like toilet paper, but they can also cause severe clogs because of their thick material. They can also expand up to 10 times their original size when they absorb liquid. Even “septic safe” and biodegradable wipes are a no-go for the toilet.
In addition to the chemical components, these products often contain fragrances, dyes and other additives that could be harmful if ingested. They also contribute to the cultural discomfort many women experience around menstruation. According to author Sharra L. Vostral, these products are designed to help women “pass as healthy” and avoid public awareness of their period.
Blocked drains can occur in any place in your home or business that has a pipe. This includes sinks, tubs and toilets that are all connected to the main drain pipe. Clogs in any of these areas can make water back up into others, so it’s important to fix them quickly. For many clogs, a plunger is the quick and easy solution.
Whether it is a shower, sink or tub drain, hair is a frequent cause of clogs. Even short hair, pet or human, can build up in the drain over time and result in a clump that blocks the pipe. This clump of hair traps water and causes the musky, rotten odor that signals a blockage.
Hair is the most common reason for clogged bathtub, shower and kitchen drains, but it can also occur in toilets and bathroom sinks. Even those with a hair-catcher in their sink may still find hair accumulating in the drain over time. This is because a hair-catcher often breaks down due to wear and tear, or it may be the wrong size for your drain.
A clog caused by hair can be difficult to dislodge, but there are several methods homeowners can try. One option is to straighten out a wire coat hanger and bend one end over to create a hook that can be worked past the drain cover to remove any hair or gunk that is stuck. Pouring a mixture of baking soda and vinegar down the drain is another tried-and-true way to clear hair clogs, as the chemical reaction between these items helps dissolve gunk that builds up in pipes. If neither of these remedies work, a plumber can use a plumbing snake to locate and dislodge the clog.
To prevent a clog, homeowners should brush or comb their hair before getting into the shower or tub. This removes a lot of loose strands that can go down the drain and avoids a big problem down the line. Using a small, oil-cutting drain soap or a liquid hair product can also help reduce the amount of grease that is left behind in a drain.
Even with preventative measures, many people may experience a blocked drain at some point. If you notice that your sink or tub is draining slowly, or is completely blocked by a hair clog, call Smith’s Plumbing Services. We can help get your pipe back to normal and restore the fresh smell of your home.