Clogged drains and pipes are common problems when it comes to household plumbing systems, but a few preventive steps can keep your drains flowing freely and prevent you from having to call a plumber every few months. Consider the following tips:
Don’t use drains as garbage cans. “Homeowners should always be mindful of what they put down their drains,” says Steve Ionis, President of Rayne Plumbing and Sewer Service, Inc. in San Jose. “Don’t use your garbage disposal for anything more than disseminating solids you may have accidentally put into the sink or leftover particles from washing dishes.”
Dispose of grease correctly. “Adding used oil and grease to drain lines can cause major problems,” says Mr. Ionis. “Instead, let cooking grease cool and solidify in the pan, then use a paper towel to wipe out as much grease as possible and wash the pan as usual.”
Choose soaps carefully. Dishwashing detergents loosen grease and food particles from dishes, which can then cling to drains and harden. Likewise, many soaps, shampoos, shaving creams and lotions also contain waxes and oil, which can trap hair and particles in bathroom sinks and shower drains. Try limiting your use of these products and choose environmentally-friendly soaps with lower concentrations of wax and oil.
Regularly check for clogs. Pour boiling, soapy water down your drains on a weekly basis to clear out grease and waste build-up. Every three months, mix two cups of baking soda and one cup of vinegar down each sink drain. Wait 30 minutes and clear out the solution with boiling water. Flushing your pipes by filling all sinks and bathtubs with warm water and pulling the drain plugs simultaneously once a month (once a week for pipes that clog easily) can also help flush out possible clogs.
Ask for answers. “If you’re having a consistent problem with your drain, get a clear explanation from a plumber to learn why the problem occurred in the first place,” recommends Mr. Ionis. “Often, a plumber can retrieve portions of the material that was restricting the sewer line and explain how to avoid future clogs.”