Here at Anthony Plumbing, Heating, and Cooling, we take great pride in our plumbing knowledge. We believe that this knowledge should be shared with our customers – because sharing is caring. Today, we wanted to share some of our drain cleaning tips to keep your pipes working like new.
Effects of a Clogged Drain
Unfortunately, there are not many warning signs of neglected drain cleaning. There are only signs once it is clogged and in need of professional help.
- Slow to Drain: This is usually the first sign of a clogged drain. As soon as you start to notice your sink or bath draining slower than normal, call us.
- Odors: When a drain gets clogged, the pipes start to dry out. With the lack of liquid in a clogged drain, there’s nothing to absorb the odor of the hair, food or other debris that are causing the clogged drain.
- Leaks: When you run water into a clogged drain, the water looks for somewhere to go. The more you run the water, the higher the pressure is on the clog and the pipes. Eventually, the pipes can’t take the pressure any longer and will start to burst, causing leaks in multiple places. If you notice a clog, it’s wise to fix it immediately to avoid an even bigger problem.
Causes of a Clogged Drain
The best way to avoid a clogged drain is to know what causes it. In order to maintain a healthy drain, minimize the amount of these products that you put down the drain.
- Hair: It’s natural to shed hair when you shower. This is the main reason for clogs in shower drains. There are many solutions to stop the hair from building up. The mushroom strainer is our favorite.
- Soap: Although soap is meant to clean, the remnants can quickly build up in your pipes. This can be avoided by regularly flushing your pipes with hot water and pouring a baking soda mixture down the drain.
- Food waste: No matter how powerful your garbage disposal may be, it cannot make food completely disappear. Food waste such as egg shells can scrape your pipes and cause more than the average wear and tear.
- Mineral buildup: This can be from cleaners you use or miscellaneous substances that you rinse down the drain. It is best, for your pipes and your household, to use natural products.
- Bath products: Not only can soap build up, but so can your bath bombs, lotions, and hair products. There is no real way to avoid this kind of build-up – it’s a fact of life! Routine plumbing maintenance can prevent it from building up too much, though, or even catch it before it becomes too much of a nuisance.
- Toilet paper build-up: Obviously toilet paper is flushable. Certain kinds, though, don’t dissolve as well as others. Some of this has to do with the type of toilet you have. Low-flow toilets, while better for the environment, are not as powerful as others, and cannot break the toilet paper down enough.
Drain Cleaning Tips
In order for these tips to be helpful, they must be performed on a regular basis and before a clog forms.
- Baking soda and vinegar: This is a great way to prevent a clogged drain, but it cannot solve a clog that has already formed. In order to help prevent a clog, it’s important to pour this mixture down the drain once a month.
- Hot water: If you don’t feel like making a baking soda + vinegar concoction, you can simply boil a kettle of water and pour that down the drain. This method is only recommended for metal pipes. If you pour boiling water down PVC pipes, the pipes and joints could potentially soften.
- Keep a plunger handy: If you’ve tried both of the above tips to no avail, this is a good option. In order to know if this option is working, the tub, sink or toilet needs to be filled with water for suction. Once the water starts to go down, you know that your plunging worked.
- Install a strainer: There are many different types of strainers, depending on which drain you’re straining. For bathtubs, there are strainers specifically to catch hair. For the kitchen, there are strainers to catch bigger food particles. A strainer is a much simpler solution than constantly plunging the drain yourself and will save you money in the long run. This mushroom strainer is perfect to catch hair in the bathtub.
- Get your pipes inspected once a year: It’s easy to overwork the pipes in your home. In order to ensure that they’re constantly able to work with maximum efficiency, it’s important to have them inspected by a plumber once a year.
Things You Should Never Put Down the Drain
Before, we mentioned products that you should try to avoid putting down the drain. This following list should NEVER enter your sink. Putting any of these ingredients down your sink will sabotage any and all of your drain cleaning efforts.
- Grease: Grease from cooking can harden in the drains and cause a clog. It’s best to dispose of cooking grease in the trash in order to maintain a clean drain. Since the grease is usually very hot right after cooking, be sure to let it cool before pouring it into the trash can.
- Oil: Oil never breaks down. In fact, it only builds up. It clings to any other food particles it can find and will grow into a “fatberg.” This fatberg will clog the drain, allowing nothing else to get through.
- Chemical drain cleaners: Using chemical drain cleaners can be harmful to your pipes and you. The chemicals are strong enough to eat away some tough clogs, but that also means they are strong enough to eat at your pipes.
- Food scraps: As we mentioned above, food scraps are the main cause for a clog in your kitchen sink. We suggest scraping all the big scraps off of dishes into the trashcan before rinsing and washing the dish. Plenty of food scraps can be turned into compost, as well.
Do-It-Yourself Drain Cleaning Solutions
We were inspired by this case study to think of ways to save your plumbing without breaking the bank.
- Drain Snake: The reach of a drain snake goes far beyond what a plunger can do. The looks just as you’d imagine: a long coil, wrapped up within a crank. This is a very simple solution, but it’s only effective with the beginning of a small clog. If you wait too long, this method will not work.
- Annual Plumbing Maintenance: To avoid a clog turning into a larger repair, we recommend annual plumbing “check-ups” by our team. This is the most affordable option of them all – as it could save you from a plumbing mishap down the line.
We hope these tips keep your home in tip-top shape!
Always think of Anthony Plumbing, Heating & Cooling when it’s time for your check-up.