You can keep your drain from clogging by being alert about what you send down the drain, but sometimes, your drains will need more attention than that. Regular cleaning can keep your drains from slowing down or getting clogged up, not to mention they can keep nasty smells at bay. Here are some drain maintenance tips that address innovative disposal practices and regular drain cleaning.
Drain-Friendly Tips & Disposal Habits
When it comes to preventing clogs, specifically for kitchen sinks and bathroom sinks, all it takes is a conscious effort to know what is and isn’t supposed to be put in the drain. Knowing what items are terrible to put in a kitchen sink, even if you have a garbage disposal, will help prevent most kitchen drain build-ups. Instead of immediately throwing all food scraps down the kitchen drain, alternative disposal habits exist for the most common offenders.
Below are the top offenders when it comes to clogged drains.
- Coffee grounds
- Cooking grease
- Peels or fruit carcasses
- Soap scum
Regarding coffee grounds, deposit these in your trash can or on a mulch pile. As for cooking grease, you can store this in an old container, such as a coffee can or milk container. When the container is complete, it can go into the garbage.
Eggshells can be broken up into smaller shards, but they do not disintegrate, so they can clump up in the drain resulting in a clog. The same goes for peels or other fruit carcasses. Most organic fruit and vegetative skins will eventually biodegrade, but not quickly enough while in your garbage disposal. These skins can be tough and rubbery, which makes them difficult to break down. Eggshells and peels should always be thrown away in the garbage can or a compost bin if you have that option.
You may also want to install a mesh screen or strainer over the drain to act as a hair catcher and soap scum stopper. You can find the right screen at a plumbing supply or hardware store.
Bathroom sinks are even more limited regarding what products and items are safe to wash down the drain pipe. The bathroom sink drain is much smaller and doesn’t contain a garbage disposal to help break down anything washed down the sink drain. Resulting in more frequent blockages and drain clogs.
Some of the most common items washed down a bathroom sink drain that cause blockage include:
- Feminine Hygiene Products
- Hair/clumps of hair
- Dental Floss
- Human Waste/Biohazards
Feminine hygiene products are often discarded in both public and home plumbing systems because of convenience, but there are consequences for this convenience. Drain and sewer lines can clog up faster and cause a backup if not cleaned out often enough. These types of products are not made of degradable material like toilet paper, which will dissolve in water. It’s always best to discard these types of products in a trash can and not inside of your pipes.
Dental Floss should also be discarded in a trash can because, similar to hair, dental floss can clump. If there is already a large amount of gunk already in a bathroom sink drain, the dental floss can make matters worse and make the clog much more difficult to clean out.
Human Waste/Biohazards such as feces, vomit, and vile should be strictly disposed of in a toilet or, in an emergency, a trash bag. Most bathroom sinks or shower drains are not equipped to handle the contents of human waste like a plumbing system is.
Ways to Clean Your Drain Line
There may not be a “best” method to clean your drain line, but these suggested methods are recommended troubleshooting starts for most homeowners.
Method #1: Turn the hot water on after you dump something into the sink. This can force oils down the drain and prevent them from accumulating and hardening.
Method #2: Add a handful of baking soda to that hot water. Baking soda not only removes terrible smells but can also do a fantastic cleaning job.
Method #3: Or pour vinegar down the drain with hot water. You can empty 1 cup of vinegar over the drain, wait 30 minutes, and then run boiling water. The acetic acid in the vinegar is perfect for targeting gunk that accumulates in your pipes.
Method #4: If you need to clean a sink with a garbage disposal, you could send ice cubes made of a vinegar-water solution down the drain. Fill an ice tray halfway with vinegar, then fill it with water. Label the tray very well, or a relative could get a nasty surprise. Once you have your ice cubes, turn your disposal on, and dump the ice cubes, which will freeze and scrape off greasy substances. (If you do not like the smell of vinegar, you can also send a lemon slice down. It might be a good idea to do anyway since your kitchen should end up smelling wonderful.)
Method #5: Use drain cleaner, but with some precautions. Plumbing experts hesitantly recommend chemical drain cleaners. Chemical drain cleaners may be able to handle clogs and other drain cleaning issues, but it comes with a cost to your drain line. Some drain cleaners are so acidic they can cause damage and become corrosive to your drain pipes. When choosing a drain cleaner, you must follow the instructions strictly, or else you could pour too much, which is unsafe for not only your plumbing but also for yourself. If possible, avoid drain cleaners and use more natural or mechanical methods instead.
Method #6: When in doubt, plumb it out. Take the plunger every home has and utilize the trusted mechanical method. For kitchen sinks, removing the drain stopper can help increase the power of the plunger.
Dealing with Frequent Clogs
If you get clogs regularly, you may need to step up your methods, whether dealing with a sink, shower, or tub drain. You can take baking soda, salt, vinegar (a 1/2 cup each), and at least two quarts of boiling water. Then right before you go to sleep (to allow the solution to do its work overnight):
- Send the salt and baking soda down the drain.
- Pour the vinegar, and watch the foaming action for a minute.
- Empty the container of boiling water.
Dealing with Frequent Clogs
If nothing you do seems to work, you may need to call the experts to diagnose the problem and provide a permanent fix. No problem is too small or too significant for our team of Kansas City plumbers to handle. Our team has experience in drain cleaning, septic system clogs, sewer line backups, or even general plumbing system issues.
If you face any plumbing problems, we are available on weekends and after regular business hours as well. Learn more and get a quote when you contact A-1 Sewer & Septic Service, Inc. today!