How to Prevent Clogged Drains in 6 Easy Steps
Clogs are a pain. Preventing clogs before they happen will help ensure that you can use your plumbing appliances when you need them without spending your Saturday plunging or snaking. Clog prevention also helps keep your plumbing system working efficiently for as long as possible.
Best of all, you don’t have to spend money to prevent clogs! In fact, the best things a homeowner can do to prevent clogs don’t cost any money… and they’ll save you bundles in the long run. Here are a couple simple, quick best practices to keep in mind to prevent clogging in your home’s sinks and bathtubs.
1. Don’t Flush Food Down Your Kitchen Sink
It seems like a no-brainer, but when we say no food, we mean absolutely no food or food bi-product. Grease, oil, fat, coffee grounds, bones, meat, grains, and egg shells can all spell doom for your kitchen sink’s drain. If you have a garbage disposal, you can use it to break down and flush most foods down the drain, but you should know how to use a garbage disposal properly.
If you do have a disposal, you should never flush grease, oil, or coffee grounds down the drain. They’ll coat the inside of your pipes and accumulate other materials headed down the drain until the mass forms a clog. Scrape off plates, dispose of leftover foods in the garbage, and transfer grease and grounds into disposable receptacles before throwing them out. Never flush them.
2. Use a Drain Grate or Sink Drain Screen
A grate or screen placed over the drain at the bottom of the sink will block non-liquid materials from entering the drain and getting clogged there. Stuff like food, hair, and dirt can’t pass through the grate but water passes through no problem. Keep in mind that most grates won’t work with harmful liquids, like oil and grease.
After you buy a grate, make sure to wash it out frequently. If you let a grate catch a lot of debris without cleaning it, it could become a hygiene hazard. Removable grates allow you to place them over multiple sink plugs when you need to. Grates are simple, inexpensive, and easy to find in local hardware stores.
3. Brush Your Hair Before Bathing
We’re particularly fond of this one, because a lot of homeowners haven’t heard it before. When you brush your hair, you’re naturally, safely removing all the loose hair on your head. This loose hair is the stuff that the water of a shower or bath washes off of you and down into your drain.
If you’ve ever dealt with a nasty hair clog in your shower or bathroom sink and wondered how to prevent hair from clogging your drain, this is a good first step.
4.Check Stoppers for Hair and Buildup
Often, before a clog becomes a clog, it’s a collection of hair, soap scum, and other debris hanging out around your drain stopper. As your sink sees constant use, the water from that use washes parts of this nasty “collection” down the drain, where it begins to form a clog.
About once every two weeks when you clean your bathroom, pull your drain stoppers out of the sink completely and check them for build up. You’ll probably find some wet hair along with chalky soap scum build-up and other natural debris like skin cells and dirt. Remove the hair and clean the stopper thoroughly, scrubbing with a toothbrush and cleaning agent.
Consider installing a shower drain hair catcher.. You can find these at your local hardware store and they install easily. It’s essentially a small cage on the underside of the drain that catches the hair that falls through. Just make sure that you clean it out periodically.
5. Don’t Use Chemical Cleaners
Most common chemical de-clogging products contain acidic properties. These chemicals may de-clog your drain, but their acid will eat away your pipes along with the clog. Drain cleaners accelerate corrosion and when pipes begin to corrode, flecks of the piping material scrape away from the inner walls and travel down the pipe. These flecks may get caught and begin to form a new clog. Corroded pipes also spring leaks far more easily, because the pipe walls aren’t thick enough to handle the pressure of the water traveling through them.
Pipe clogs might be annoying, but they are very rarely permanent. Pipe corrosion is. If your pipes are corroded, the best even an expert could do is to replace the damaged pipe. Pipe replacement is far more expensive than any de-clogging, so don’t take a shortcut with chemical cleaners.
6. Run Cold Water When Using Your Disposal
You should always keep a constant stream of cold water running while using your garbage disposal. Using the disposal without running water isn’t effective and could damage the system. Hot water tends to encourage grease and other materials to liquify, leaving them to gum up the disposal or further down.
Cold water keeps grease solid and allows your disposal’s rotors to chop it up before it goes down the drain. Before using the disposal, turn on the cold water and let it run for 2-3 seconds. After disposing of your waste, run the faucet a few more seconds. Throw ice in periodically to help clean out your disposal.
Don’t Let Your Drain Clog
Following these tips diligently will make a huge difference in how often your drains clog, and we’re only getting started! Check out part 2 of our “How to Prevent Clogs Before They Happen” blog for even more of the best sink/drain tips for your home.
In the meantime, if you have a clog that just won’t break up, or any other vexing plumbing problem, give Ben Franklin Plumbing a call today. We’ve got the experience and know how to fix any Dallas area plumbing issue no matter how minor or severe.