Tips for Avoiding Clogged Drains
No matter where it occurs in the house, a clogged drain is bad news.
It’s also not something that can be put on the back burner.
It’s far better to avoid clogs than to fix them, and there are plenty of ways to keep them from happening.
Before putting any of the following tips to work, do an inventory of all of the drains in your home.
Don’t overlook the laundry room, where there’s sure to be a laundry tub with a drain leading out too.
By knowing how many drains you have and where they are, you’ll be able to implement these tips more effectively.
Here are 20 Tips to Prevent Clogged Drains…
1. Try Not to Put Food Down the Kitchen Drain
Even if you have a garbage disposal, you should try to avoid putting food down the kitchen drain.
Every time you do, you’re tempting fate.
Disposals are best used for small, infrequent amounts of food scraps.
They shouldn’t be used to dispose of large quantities of food regularly.
Scrape food off of plates and into the garbage before doing the dishes.
If you’re worried about smells, place scraps in old, plastic shopping bags and bring them right out to the trash.
2. Never Put Certain Foods Down the Kitchen Drain
If you absolutely must put food down the kitchen drain, you should still make sure to avoid certain types of food.
Some foods are far more likely to cause clogs than others.
Common examples are coffee grounds, potato skins, banana peels and egg shells.
Foods like these can easily become trapped in the blades of the disposal and cause them to seize up.
They may also be sticky, which can cause them to stick inside drains.
3. Always Use a Sink Strainer
The best way to keep unwanted food scraps out of your kitchen drain is by using a sink strainer at all times.
It’s well worth it to invest in a high-quality strainer.
Choose one that fits easily into your drain.
If it’s too small, it might fall in; if it’s too large, it may still allow food to slip into the drain.
Always check to make sure the strainer is firmly in place before washing the dishes.
4. Periodically Flush Your Pipes
There’s no way to know whether residue is building up inside a drain, which is why plumbing issues seem to happen from out of nowhere.
One way to minimize the risk of such buildup is by periodically filling your sink or bathtub to the brim and pulling the stopper.
The water will rush down the drain and through the pipes, and it could dislodge buildup along the way.
It’s impossible to know whether anything is cleared or not, but it is easy enough to do and absolutely worth the time.
5. Use Lots of Cold Water when Running the Disposal
There’s a right way and a wrong way to use the garbage disposal.
You should run it whenever you are finished washing the dishes, even if you don’t think any food made it into the drain.
Always use lots of cold water when running the disposal.
Keep the water flowing a few seconds after you shut it off.
Without using plenty of water, small pieces of food and other debris are more likely to get stuck in the drain or the pipe.
6. Have Your Home Septic System Inspected Regularly
If your home has a septic system, you should have it inspected every few years.
Issues with the septic system can lead to clogs in the drains of your home, and they can be absolutely disastrous.
You can’t inspect your own septic system without the right gear and equipment, so hiring the professionals is the only way to go.
Think of it as a small price to pay for avoiding clogs that could cause serious damage to your home.
7. Only Flush Appropriate Things Down the Toilet
Clogged sinks are no fun, but clogged toilets can be even worse.
Be careful about what you flush down the toilet.
Waste and toilet paper are the only things that should ever go down that drain.
Although many feminine hygiene products are designed to be safe to flush, it’s generally best to just err on the side of caution by throwing them in the trash instead.
There’s just no telling what will clog a toilet drain.
If there are small kids in the house, make it clear that nothing strange should ever be flushed down the toilet.
8. Use Homemade Drain Cleaning Solution
If a bathtub, shower or sink seems to be draining slowly, one option is to try a homemade drain cleaning solution.
It couldn’t be easier, and you probably already have what you need at home.
First, pour about a quarter of a cup of baking soda down the drain.
Next, pour a half a cup of vinegar.
Allow it to fizzle and react for at least 10 minutes.
After that, just flush out the drain with boiling water.
9. Hire a Plumber to Snake Your Drains
It’s way better to have a plumber preemptively snake the drains in your home than to wait until they are clogged.
You can expect to pay anywhere from $85 to $200 for the service, depending on the number of drains that need to be snaked.
Plan on having this down every few years.
It may be annoying to pay extra money when the drains aren’t even clogged, but it’s worth it to avoid disastrous clogs that interrupt your life.
10. Avoid Chemical Drain Cleaners
When you have a bad clog in your drain, you may be tempted to run out and a really harsh drain cleaning product.
Ads make these products look really fast and effective, but they downplay the risks that are involved.
Most notably, these products can erode drains and pipes over time.
That’s especially true if you have cast iron pipes.
What’s more is that these products don’t usually clear away the entire clog.
As a result, you can end up in a vicious cycle where you have to use these products regularly.
11. Never Pour Paint or Paint Thinner Down the Drain
After finishing up a painting project, you’re likely to have leftover paint or paint thinner.
The easy solution may be to pour it down the drain, but that’s the last thing you should do.
These products can wreak havoc on your drains and pipes.
Check with your city or county to find out where you can safely dispose of paint, paint thinner and related products.
It’s far better than damaging the pipes in your home.
12. Clean Sink Strainers Regularly
Since you’re going to use sink strainers whenever you wash the dishes, they’re sure to get dirty quickly.
As residue builds up, it can easily slip through and end up in your pipes.
With that in mind, finish up every dish-washing session by cleaning the sink strainer too.
Use a paper towel to wipe off debris and other buildup, and throw it in the trash.
Whatever you do, don’t rinse that stuff down the drain; it will completely defeat the whole point of using a sink strainer in the first place.
13. Don’t Flush Too Much at Once
No one likes to talk about using the toilet.
However, there are situations in which it may be necessary to flush more than once.
Waiting until the bowl is really full before flushing it is a surefire way to end up with a clogged toilet and a huge mess.
Remind children about this rule too.
Similarly, don’t flush too much toilet paper down the toilet at once either.
14. Snake Your Drains Yourself
If you’d like to avoid paying a plumber to snake a clogged drain or to perform routine maintenance, you could always buy your own auger, or snake, and do the work yourself.
You can also rent electric augers from local home improvement stores.
Watch a few videos online to find out how to use these tools effectively.
Once you get the hang of it, you’ll wonder why you didn’t just do this work yourself in the first place.
The messiness of the job may ultimately lead you to call a plumber after all.
15. Pull Out Hair before it Goes Down the Drain
Keep your eye on bathroom sinks, showers and tubs for signs of stray hair.
Wipe out the hair before it goes down the drain.
If you get into the habit of doing this after every shower or at least once per day, you can save yourself a lot of grief.
This is especially important if you live with people who have really long hair, which can easily get snarled in drains and pipes.
You’ll have to fish that hair out at one point or another, and it’s a lot more pleasant to do so when it’s still in the sink or bathtub.
16. Remove and Clean Sink and Bathtub Stoppers
If you’ve ever removed a stopper from the tub or sink before, you know how gross it can get.
Eventually, that grime slides off and ends up down the drain, where it can clog pipes and create all kinds of problems.
An easy way to ward off this issue is by periodically removing those stoppers and cleaning them.
Make sure you know how to replace them properly first, or you might run into trouble.
17. Pour Boiling Water Down the Drain
Once a week, boil a large pot of water and pour it down the kitchen drain.
Repeat the process for the other drains in your home.
Boiling water works wonders when it comes to clearing away old gunk and buildup.
It’s especially effective against grease buildup, which becomes hard over time.
The hot water softens up the grease, which helps it to flush the rest of the way down the pipe.
18. Use Screen Covers in Bathroom Drains
In the bathroom, hair is the enemy.
In addition to clearing it out by hand, you can further reduce the risk of it ending up down the drain by using screen covers.
These are available at home improvement stores, and they can be installed in bathroom sinks, showers and bathtubs.
As with stoppers and sink strainers, they need to be cleaned regularly.
The small amount of extra effort that’s needed is sure to pay off when you are able to avoid major clogs.
19. Keep Lint Out of the Laundry Tub Drain
If you’ve ever had a laundry tub back up and overflow, you know what an ordeal it can be.
This usually happens when too much lint gets into the drain and creates a clog.
It can also happen when a stray dryer sheet ends up down the drain.
In either case, this unhappy situation can be avoided by simply attaching a piece of pantyhose to the end of the hose that drains into your laundry tub.
The pantyhose will catch lint and other debris to keep it from going down the drain.
You’ll just need to clean the pantyhose and replace it periodically.
20. Never Pour Grease Down the Drain
Grease may seem innocuous enough, but it should never be poured down any drain in your home.
Things like bacon grease solidify when they are cool.
Liquid grease becomes thick over time and can create bad clogs too.
After cooking with grease, allow it to cool down all the way.
Pour it into a disposable container of some kind, and then throw the container in the trash.
You can be less wasteful by straining and reusing some kinds of grease and oil.
Without taking care of the drains and pipes in your home, you’re sure to end up with a massive plumbing repair bill.
It’s vastly preferable to prevent clogs than it is to clear them away.
When clogs happen too frequently, they can weaken pipes and lead to other, more serious problems.
Get into the habit of performing basic preventative maintenance on your drains and pipes, and bring in the professionals if you can’t do it yourself.