As essential as our toilets and sinks are, you’d think we’d know a little more about how to take care of them. However, there comes a time in every homeowner’s life when that problem drain becomes impossible to ignore. With a little prevention, these instances can occur fewer and further between. Properly maintaining the drains in your home will help your whole plumbing system run more smoothly, and help you avoid that plumber’s bill for as long as possible.
What to Keep Out of the Drains
With all the primping that goes on in your bathroom, there are lots of things that can get caught in your drain. Hair, earrings, and toothpaste caps are famous for slipping down the bathroom drains and wreaking havoc. Placing a straining screen over the bathroom drains will keep most items from making their way down the drain. Cleaning the screens every day, and wiping down the sink after each use will reduce your bathroom plumbing problems.
Food particles are the biggest drain offender in the kitchen. While the garbage disposal can help reduce these problems, it can’t take care of everything. Cooking grease that is poured down the drain will congeal and clog up the pipe further down. Pasta and other sticky foods can cause the same problem. Scrape plates into the garbage can to avoid this problem, and use a drain catch to keep larger food bits from going down the drain.
What to Put In the Drains
What you put in your drains is just as important as what you keep out of them. Treating your drains once a week with a cup of distilled vinegar or a ½ cup of baking soda will help keep the drains clean and running smoothly. Follow these treatments by running hot water down the drain for one minute to rinse everything down. Running a sliced up orange or lemon through the garbage disposal will help to keep things smelling fresh. Pouring a pot of boiling hot water down the drain can clear minor clogs and keep things moving.
When to Ask for Help
More stubborn clogs may require you to break out the plunger or to use a drain cleaning chemical from the store. If these methods don’t work to clear the drain, it may be time to call a plumber. Some homeowners prefer to try using a snake in the drain before calling the plumber, but this can be risky. If the snake is not used properly, it can damage or even break the pipes, especially in older homes. For really tough clogs, it will save you time and money to let a professional plumber clear the pipe without damaging it.