The Role of Regular Drain Maintenance
in Preventing Blockages
If you’ve ever experienced a shower that decides halfway through to turn into a bath, or a kitchen sink that isn’t eager to part with its load of precious dishwater, then you know the frustration of blocked drains! However, slow drains are more than just minor annoyances; they’re a sign of potentially damaging blockages lurking in your plumbing system!
Thankfully keeping your drains flowing freely only involves a little bit of DIY and understanding what to avoid putting down your drain lines! Have you already lost the battle against drain clogs? Then the simplest and best solution is to contact a professional plumbing service!
Regular Maintenance keeps Drains Clog-free
While your drain pipes don’t have any moving parts, they still experience daily wear and tear. All sorts of gunk like soap scum and mineral scale can build up over time, gradually causing your home’s plumbing to become less efficient. However, with a bit of regular care, you can avoid the drama of severely clogged drains.
How often should drains be cleaned?
- Weekly: Flush them with hot water. We recommend pouring several quarts of hot water (avoid boiling water as it can damage plastic pipes) down your kitchen drain to help release any fats which may be congealing in your drain’s P-trap.
- Seasonally: Treat them to a vinegar and baking soda mix. We recommend pouring about half a cup of baking soda directly into the drain and then topping it off with half a cup of vinegar. You’ll be recreating the science-fair volcano exhibit, so stop and enjoy the show. After about an hour, rinse the drain with plenty of hot water.
- Yearly: Call in a professional plumber. Sometimes, your drains deserve that extra bit of professional pampering. Annual visits from your plumber are the best way to have clean drains.
How often should I use chemical drain cleaners?
Here’s something that every plumber wished more people knew:
Never use chemical drain cleaners!
Yes, you read that right. These harsh cleaning products are more of a foe than a friend to your pipes. Over time these drain cleaning chemicals damage metal and PVC pipes, ultimately causing them to fail prematurely.
Prevent Blockage with these Drain Maintenance Tips
- Mind What Goes Down: Be thoughtful about what you send down the drain. Remember, sink drains aren’t trash cans!
- Use Drain Strainers: They’re like bouncers, keeping unwanted stuff out of your club… I mean, drain.
- Regular Flushing: Hot water is your drain’s best friend. Give it a regular hot bath.
- Go Natural: White vinegar and baking soda – the dynamic duo for your drain’s health.
Common Items that Clog Drains
Causes of Kitchen Clogs
- Grease, Fats, and Oils:
Why to Avoid: When grease, fats, and oils cool down, they solidify and stick to the inside of pipes, leading to blockages.
What to Do Instead: Pour fats into a resealable container and then dispose of them in the trash.
- Coffee Grounds:
Why to Avoid: Coffee grounds can accumulate and create a dense, sludgy blockage.
What to Do Instead: Add them to your compost bin or use them as fertilizer in your garden.
Why to Avoid: Ground eggshells can mix with other waste to form clogs, and they can also damage garbage disposal blades.
What to Do Instead: Compost them or throw them in the trash.
Causes of Bathroom Clogs
Why to Avoid: Hair easily binds with grease and other substances, creating significant blockages.
What to Do Instead: Use a shower drain strainer to catch hair, and regularly clean it out. Guys, if you’re shaving over the bathroom sink, try to gather up the majority of the hair with a piece of toilet paper and throw it away before rinsing the sink out!
- Dental Floss:
Why to Avoid: Floss can wrap around other debris in the pipes, creating a net-like structure that catches and holds waste.
What to Do Instead: Dispose of it in the trash.
- Cotton Balls, Swabs, and Pads:
Why to Avoid: These items don’t break down and can easily cause blockages in pipes.
What to Do Instead: Always throw them in the trash.
- Diapers, Paper Towels, and Baby Wipes:
Why to Avoid: Even “flushable” wipes can clog pipes and the sewage system.
What to Do Instead: Remember, toilet paper is the only flushable paper product! Everything else goes in the trash.
- Feminine Hygiene Products:
Why to Avoid: Tampons and pads can expand and cause significant blockages.
What to Do Instead: These should always be disposed of in the trash.
- Cat Litter:
Why to Avoid: It clumps and solidifies, leading to serious blockages.
What to Do Instead: Always dispose of cat litter in the trash.
Caring for Drains with Disposals
- Run Cold Water: Always run cold water when using the disposal and let it run for a few seconds after shutting it off. This helps move waste through the pipes.
- Gradual Disposal: Feed waste slowly into the disposal to avoid overloading it.
- Soft Foods Only: Dispose of soft, non-fibrous foods. Hard or fibrous items can damage the blades or cause clogs.
- Avoid disposing of oil, coffee grounds, or eggshells: Just like a regular drain, these are the main culprits for causing clogs in garbage disposals!
- Routine Flushing: Regularly flush the disposal with plenty of cold water to clear any lingering debris.
- Natural Cleaners: Occasionally, freshen up your disposal with a mix of ice cubes and salt, followed by cold water. You can also use vinegar and baking soda for a deeper clean.
Annual Drain Maintenance
With regular care, your drains will serve you reliably for a long time. However, a bit of professional care is needed if you want to keep your drains at their best. Even with diligent care, mineral scale and soap scum inevitably build up and can cause stubborn clogs which are hard for homeowners to safely remove. A professional plumber has the tools (and the experience to use them!) to break up these clogs without causing any additional plumbing issues.
If you have a clog that just won’t go away, or your sinks are draining slowly, it is time to contact a plumber. We recommend working with local plumbing companies which have plenty of good reviews.