How to Prevent Your Drains from Clogging
Yikes, the sink is clogged again, and it’s starting to back up—maybe even stink!
Call the plumber, stat! Okay, is that done? Next step is to prevent this from happening again. Because it’s annoying, right?
Preventing clogs before they happen will help ensure that you can use your plumbing appliances when you need them. It’ll also help keep your plumbing system working efficiently for as long as possible. Best of all, you don’t have to spend money to prevent clogs! The best things homeowners can do to prevent clogs don’t cost money at all, and it will save money in the long run.
- Stop washing all kinds of foods and objects down your sink (and toilets, for that matter!). If you have a garbage disposal, you can use it to break down some things, but keep in mind that even that isn’t mean to break apart too many things—you don’t want to break that too, do you? Make sure you don’t put grease, oil, or coffee grounds down a garbage disposal because they’ll coat the inside of the pipes and accumulate over time, collecting other materials that go down the drain. Scrape off plates and dispose of leftover foods in the garbage, and all grease and coffee grounds can go into disposable receptacles before throwing them out.
- Use a drain screen or grate to prevent large food items from getting down into the pipes. A grate or screen placed over the drain topper at the bottom of the sink will block non-liquid materials from entering the drain and getting clogged there. Food, hair, dirt, and other non-food items can’t pass through the grate, but water passes through it no problem. You can even get a drain blocker for your shower to prevent all that freshly shampooed hair from washing down the drain and backing it up! Keep in mind that grates won’t work with harmful liquids, like oil and grease. After you buy a grate, make sure you wash it out regularly to avoid allowing debris to build up.
- Hair, hair, HAIR. That’s pretty much what we have to say there. It builds up so quickly when brushing, washing your hair in the shower, cutting it…whatever you’re doing to those gorgeous locks of yours, make sure they’re not clogging your drains. We mentioned a hair blocker for your shower drains above, and we highly recommend that, but you can also make sure to brush your hair (not over a sink drain!) before you shower so you lose less of it in the shower drain and is much easier to dispose of.
- Maintain the drain (stoppers). Many times, before a clog becomes a problematic clog, it’s a collection of hair, soap scum, and other debris hanging out on your drain stopper. Sinks are used consistently, and the water from that use washes parts of this nasty “collection” down into the drain, where it begins to form a clog. About once every two weeks or so, pull your drain stoppers out of the sink completely, and check for buildup. You’ll probably find a pretty gross mixture, so remove it and clean it thoroughly!
- Be mindful of your cleaners. Chemicals and cleaners are often harmful for your drains and pipes and tend to have acidic properties that will wear away your pipers. Even the drain de-cloggers may work to de-clog your drain temporarily, but the acid is corroding your pipes in the process. When they start corroding, flecks of the piping material scrape away from the inner walls and travel down the pipe. These flecks may get caught and begin to form a clog. Corroded pipes also spring leaks far more easily, because the pipe walls aren’t thick enough to handle the pressure of the water. Clogs might be annoying, but they are very rarely permanent, while pipe corrosion is. If your pipes are corroded, usually the best even an expert could do is to replace the damaged pipe. Pipe replacement is far more expensive than any de-clogging, so don’t take a shortcut with chemical cleaners.
- Run cold water. You should always keep a constant stream of cold water running while using the disposal, which uses this current to move water through the disposal and through the pipes. Using the disposal without running water won’t be effective and could damage the system, and hot water isn’t as good at moving materials through the disposal and down the pipes. Hot water tends to encourage food and other materials to congeal, possibly getting stuck either on the disposal or further down. Before using the disposal, turn on the cold water on let it run for 2-3 seconds.
Knowing how to prevent clogged pipes can prevent expensive long-term damages from harming your home and wallet.
Didn’t see this until it was too late, and you already have a clog? That’s okay. Give us a call at our emergency plumbing line at 216-701-6205.