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Drains: How To Stop The Clogs Before They Start

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It's an ugly, smelly fact of life--if you use indoor plumbing, at some time in your life, you're going to have to deal with a clogged drain. The culprits in a clogged drain situation are many--hair, soap, grease, scum, and other, ahem, unmentionables--but the reaction is pretty much the same across the board--revulsion, followed by halfhearted attempts to clear it, followed by a call to your plumber. However, there are several measures you can employ to prevent clogged drains before they ever start.

Bathtub/Shower

When it comes to a clogged bathtub and/or shower drain, there are a few things likely at fault. The first is hair, especially long hair. In short, keep it out of your drain--install a hair catching screen that can easily be cleaned every few weeks. 

Other substances that might be backing up your bathtub drain include soap, bacteria, and body oils--a mixture that The Home Fixers call biofilm, which can build in layers and harden over time. To clear this type of clog, try two methods:

  • Pour a gallon of boiling water down your drain every couple of weeks to loosen any buildup and wash it away. Follow this with five minutes of running hot water down the drain.
  • Fill your bathtub nearly full and then pull the stopper and let it drain. The large amount of water will flush the pipe.

Toilet

Possibly the most feared locale for a clogged pipe to show up, the toilet is one place where a backup can easily be avoided. The only things that should ever be flushed down a toilet are human waste and toilet paper. That means no facial wipes, q-tips, paper towels, hairballs, or any other commonly flushed items--including your recently passed pet fish.

Keeping your toilet's contents to the two aforementioned items will go a long way toward avoiding any clogs. Just as important is making sure that the proper amount of toilet paper is used. Excessive waste or toilet paper can cause a clog--sometimes, flushing halfway through can prevent a problem from forming.

Kitchen Sink

Outside of the bathroom, the other room in the home most likely to see a clogged drain is the kitchen sink. Here are three tips to keep things flowing smoothly.

  • House Logic recommends keeping all food scraps out of the sink by scraping leftovers into the trash before putting dishes into the sink. Disposals are meant to catch any stray food particles, not to grind up whole chunks of food.
  • Never pour grease down the sink. It can harden and coat your pipes, building up over time. Instead, pour it into a metal can and throw it in the garbage after it cools. 
  • Run hot water through the sink after washing dishes to send any oil still in the pipes on its way. 

No matter what preventative measures you take, it is likely you will still have some gunk build up in your bathroom and kitchen drains over time. Having a plumber like A Absolute Plumbing & Heating inspect and clean your drains every year or so will go a long way toward maintaining your home's pipes--and your sanity.


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