As any homeowner has experienced, few things in the home cause more pulled hair and headaches than a clogged drainpipe. They can be stubborn, and fail to respond to the most highly touted professional cleaning products. The best advice anyone can give to head off some of the more serious drain clogs is simple maintenance.
Due Diligence Keeps Minimizes Drain Clogs
Substances like grease, oils and fats don’t break down easily, and often require help to fully pass through the network of pipes in your home. Pouring water down every week or so goes a long way towards long-term maintenance by helping the grime along. Avoid some of the harsher chemical cleaning solutions available in stores, because some of them—not all—can slowly break down the pipes themselves after washing away the detritus. This problem is pronounced if you happen to have outdated, cast-iron pipes in an older house.
If you employ vinegar and baking soda instead of just water, you’ll save yourself many headaches down the line. The bubbling action of baking soda in the presence of vinegar does wonders for breaking down the organic compounds in food stuck to the insides of your pipes – in fact, the action is somewhat similar to how well baking soda breaks down plaque when used in toothpaste. However you choose to do it, prevention is the key! Week by week, be mindful of your pipes.
Stuff That Shouldn’t Go Down the Drain
Whether it’s your kitchen sink or bathtub, material such as hair should not make it past the strainer or stopper. Hair doesn’t break down very easily, and can easily be the culprit of a massive drain problem that requires professional help. All it takes is you clearing the strainer every once in a while – perhaps after every shower, if you have a lot of hair – to make sure particles down eventually seep through the holes, as well as to reclaim the surface area of the screener for your next shower.
If you do have a hair problem in the pipes, you might consider using an enzymatic drain cleaner before calling a professional drain expert. These employ bacteria that eat human waste products—yes, hair too—and use the sustenance to reproduce and populate the local environment with more beneficial enzymes.
As for the kitchen sink, empty the strainer into the garbage disposal every time you wash the dishes, and run cold water over it as it grinds. This helps loosen any stubborn particles of food that can cause a build-up and later drain problems.
Keeping A Plunger Handy
In addition, keep a plunger on hand for any occasion when the drainpipe becomes completely blocked.
You may also want to think about investing in an electric auger that utilizes a corkscrew-like bit to clear out clogged pipes. These are especially useful if you can’t find the source of the obstruction and have nowhere else to turn. Electric augers come in various sizes and lengths, so consult with a plumbing professional before making your purchase.
A Last—But Helpful—Resort
If you do run into the eventual and/or inevitable drain clog problems, a professional drain expert can help. The above measures simply minimize the occurrences, but any homeowner knows that it’s just a matter of time before the dead skin cells, hair follicles and other substances build up enough to require professional help. The good thing is that the drain expert turns the dial back to zero once help is rendered, and it could be years before the problem becomes serious enough again – which makes it a great return on investment.