For some homeowners, even minor plumbing problems can be overwhelming. One of the most common issues is clogged drains. Although blockages can be cleared with relative ease, they can be a recurring and potentially significant problem.
What Causes Clogged Drains?
Drains are most often clogged by items that should never be in the drain. The kitchen sink tends to clog the most. Grease, soap, food particles, and vegetable peelings are the most common culprits. Shower drains and bathroom sinks are usually clogged by hair.
A plunger can clear most clogs. Plungers come in two styles: non-flanged and flanged. The non-flanged plunger is best for bathroom sinks and tubs. A flanged plunger tends to work better for toilets and kitchen sinks.
Chemicals can also be used to solve the problem. However, chemicals can cause more harm than good. These products do not often remove the entire clog, which can cause the problem to reoccur. Chemicals also tend to react with the iron, eventually resulting in breaks and leaks.
When a drain won’t clear with chemicals, a plumbing snake is often the next step. A plumbing snake or auger is basically a long and flexible metal tube. It is used to loosen and dislodge whatever is jamming the pipe. The end of the auger can either push through the obstruction, twist and tear through the obstruction, or attach itself to the blockage so it can be pulled back up through the drain.
5 Drain Clog Prevention Tips
Besides the usual backup, the accumulated water from clogs can add pressure to your drain pipes and reduce their lifespan. Rather than fix the problem after the fact, it is better to prevent the problem.
- Dispose of cooking oil and grease properly: Liquid grease can accumulate and harm the inner surface of your drain pipes. Never pour cooking oil, grease, or food remnants down a sink drain or into your garbage disposal. Those materials can damage or cause blockages to your sewer and waste treatment systems. Put grease into containers and empty them into the garbage.
- Use a drain catcher: In the bathroom, hair is the most common reason for clogged drains. Use a drain catcher or strainer in your sink or shower to prevent hair, food particles, and other debris from going down the drain and causing blockages.
- Avoid putting non-biodegradable items down the drain: Leftover food particles, waste, and scraps should be strictly kept away from the kitchen drain. Empty these into the trash before washing the dishes. Do not flush non-degradable items like wet wipes, sanitary napkins, cotton swabs, and dental floss down the toilet or sink. They can get caught in the pipes and cause blockages.
- Clean your drains regularly: Use a mixture of baking soda and vinegar to clean your drains once a month. Pour the mixture down the drain, let it sit for 30 minutes, then flush the drain with hot water.
- Be mindful of what you put in your garbage disposal: Don’t put large or hard items like bones, fruit pits, or coffee grounds in your garbage disposal, as they can damage the blades and cause blockages. Instead, dispose of them in the trash or compost.
Another easy way to keep your pipes clear is to pour boiling water through the drain every few weeks. If the problem persists, call a professional plumber to clear your drains.