How To Prevent Clogs Before They Happen, Part 2

Sink drain. "Preventing clogs before they happen part 2"

Last month, we started listing our best ways to keep drains from clogging. As we started brainstorming, however, we realized there were too many ideas for just one blog, so that’s why we’re here to bring you part two! Preventing clogs in your home saves money and time while preventing stress, so we want to give you as many ways to do it as we can.

Keeping that in mind, we broke up our drain-safeguarding tips into two general sections. In part 1, we covered a few simple things you can start or stop doing today to help your drains. Here, we’re going to cover more long-term maintenance and habits. Follow all of these tips, and not only will your drains stay clear far longer, your whole plumbing system will run better, too.

wooden compost bin in yard
Compost

Composting is a form of recycling which essentially lets organic materials like food scraps, yard waste, and coffee grounds decompose naturally. Composting is one of the best ways you can help the environment, and it’s also a great way to extend the lifespan of your garbage disposal. Even better, if you like gardening, you can use compost as a natural fertilizer to enrich soil and encourage beneficial bacterial and fungal growth.

The more you compost, the less work you impose on your disposal. Overworking your disposal can lead to kitchen sink clogs or, even worse, complete breakdowns. By composting, you can give your disposal a well-earned break and help the environment at the same time.

Hand holding money over toilet
Watch What You Flush

Despite the force of the flush, toilet drains are more sensitive than most people think. Stuff like facial tissues, disinfecting wipes, paper towels, soap, and even large quantities of toilet paper can clog a toilet quickly.

Some homeowners get in the bad habit of flushing items down the toilet that don’t belong. Make sure you dispose of all bathroom garbage properly, and double-check that the people you live with do as well. It might be a somewhat awkward conversation, but it’s worth it. Trust us.

Bar of soap in sink
Don’t Use Bar Soap

Solid soaps like the classic, old-fashioned bar soap tend to cause clogs faster than liquid soaps. All soap can accumulate on the walls of pipes over time (especially if you don’t have a water softener). When you use bar soap, however, not only does soap scum build up on pipe walls, chunks of the solid soap get flushed down the drain.

Solid soap chunks can clog up pipes by getting stuck or merging with existing accumulation to form thicker and more obstructive coats. We’re not saying bar soap is the bathroom supervillain responsible for all your clogging woes, but if you switch each soap station in your home with liquid soap, you might notice a difference in how your drains run.

Golden retriever getting a bath
Bathe Pets Outside

Surprisingly few pet owners consider what a dog’s shaggy hair can do to their bathtub’s drain. Wet hair is one of the worst things you can put down a home’s drain. Hair clumps up and wraps itself around the drain stopper or even further into the pipe. Worse, once it’s there, hair often acts as a net for catching debris and other gunk that gets flushed down a drain. Pet hair is thicker and coarser than human hair, so it’s even more stubborn to clear out.

Whenever you can, you should give your furry buddy a bath outside using the hose or a bucket. In the winter time, consider taking a bucket and towels out into the garage. If it’s really cold, you could plug your drain with a washcloth or towel before you start. Make sure you vacuum your tub thoroughly if you have no other option but to bathe Fido inside.

Scooping baking soda into drain
Flush Out the Drain

About once a month, try pouring about a tea kettle’s worth of hot water down every drain in your house. This will melt away some of the grease and scummy buildup that accumulates in pipes overtime. Don’t pour any boiling water into your toilet, though; it won’t help, and the heat could damage the linoleum of the toilet bowl.

If you really want to clean things out, you can also pour about half a cup of baking soda down each drain once every three to four months. Chase the baking soda with a half-cup of vinegar, and then pour the boiling water after about a minute. This combo will deodorize and clear early clogs all on its own.

Bar soap in shower. Soap scum visible on shower walls.
Invest in a Water Softener

When water isn’t softened, it contains trace quantities of minerals like limestone and magnesium. These minerals react with soap to form a substance called scale (soap scum), which is a chalky, sticky residue that collects in sinks, showers, and drains. Scale makes for tough clogs and also corrodes your pipes, reducing their lifespan and effectiveness.

Water softeners use salt or potassium chloride to filter out the filament that forms scale. If you don’t have a water softener, investing in one could improve the lifespan of your home’s plumbing considerably. If you do have one, learning to use it effectively will help protect from clogs and extend the life of your appliances, too.

 

It’s easy to get fatalistic about clogs. After all, no matter what you do, most drains clog eventually, and all pipes corrode eventually. Even though that’s true, taking good care of your pipes and drains can preserve their usefulness for a long enough time to save you a whole lot of money, stress, and time.

Following suggestions like these are a great first step toward ensuring your plumbing stays functional and effective. And remember, if you do wind up with a clog you can’t fix, or any other plumbing problem, you can call Ben Franklin anytime. We’ve seen clogs you people wouldn’t believe, and we’ll clear yours out, too.

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