How to Prevent Drain Clogs

If your kitchen or bathroom drain seems to be draining more slowly than usual, you likely have a drain clog on your hands. There are few plumbing problems that are more annoying than a drain clog because in most cases, a drain clog will rear its ugly head again in no time.

Keep your plumbing working at peak performance with Roto-Rooter’s simple preventative maintenance tips, designed to prevent clogged drains and avoid costly service repairs.

Follow these simple steps to ensure premium plumbing performance throughout the year.

YOUR KITCHEN

Whether it is scraps of fibrous foods, starchy pasta and rice, or cooking grease, be cautious about what you put down your sink drain. It’s best to scrape plates, pots and pans over the trash can before rinsing them off in the sink because food and grease can create some very tough sink clogs. Additionally, your garbage disposal can jam if seeds or too much fibrous food like celery or rhubarb are pushed down the drain.

THE KITCHEN SINK WITH A GARBAGE DISPOSAL

It is important to be aware of what you are dumping down the garbage disposal. Many harmful items, such as cooking grease, can settle into the sides of your pipes, blocking food bits from going down the drain. To prevent these types of problems, make sure to clear any plates or cooking utensils before washing them.

Since garbage disposals are designed to break down food waste, a limited amount of food scraps are meant for your disposal. However, large quantities or dense foods that don’t grind down easily should be avoided. Always avoid putting these items down your garbage disposal:

  • Non-food items.
  • Bones.
  • Grease from pans or greasy foods.
  • Fibrous foods like lettuce, carrots, onion skins and potato peels.
  • Foods that increase in size with water like pasta, rice and other grains.

All of these materials can cause your disposal to be blocked or even broken.

Avoid tossing thick or sticky items into your kitchen sink. Food like thick fruit, vegetable peels, eggshells and pasta do not grind well and can cause a drain clog. Remember to toss your used coffee grounds or excess food scraps in the garbage or a compost pile rather than down your kitchen sink.

When using your garbage disposal, run a heavy stream of water down the drain, which will allow any waste material to run entirely through the drainage system. Clean your system weekly by pouring boiling water down your most used drains.

FOR THE KITCHEN SINK WITHOUT A GARBAGE DISPOSAL

Never pour excess cooking grease in the garbage disposal or down the sink drain. Grease can stick to the inside walls of your pipes, leading to a drain clog.

Dispose of grease and other harmful items in the trash can, rather than down the drain, to prevent a clog from forming in your kitchen sink. Pour the grease into a container and dispose of the entire container in the trash or wait until the grease hardens then scrape into the trash.

When you don’t have garbage disposal, a drain strainer will help prevent food scraps from trickling down the drain.

Once a week, pour boiling water down your drain to clean out the system, which will help melt away the weeks' worth of grease that has accumulated inside your pipes.

YOUR BATHROOM

Excess hair and soap scum are the main causes of shower drain clogs. Toothpaste and hair will gum up bathroom sink drains, and wet wipes and too much toilet paper are responsible for most toilet clogs. To avoid shower clogs, install a drain cover that will catch hair before it goes down the drain. For sinks, just avoid getting hair in them whenever possible, and get into the habit of using just enough toothpaste to cover the bristles on your toothbrush.

In your bathroom, it is best to use a screen or drain grate that covers the drain’s opening. A screen or drain grate will minimize the amount of hair and soap scum that accumulates in the shower and/or bathtub drain. Routinely clean these screens and grates to ensure that water doesn’t pool up due to all of the excess hair and scum on the screen.

THE TOILET

Avoid toilet clogs by flushing only human waste and toilet paper. Since many wipes are made from spun-laced plastic instead of natural fibers, avoid flushing any wet wipes – even if they’re labeled “flushable.” Plunging your toilet should eliminate most backups.

Your plumbing is sensitive which means flushing items on the “do-not-flush” list can be harmful to both your plumbing and the environment. Items like feminine hygiene products, cotton ball or swabs should never be flushed These items do not break down in sewage and will end up blocking your drain lines, causing a clog. A good rule of thumb, if you don’t think it shouldn’t be flushed – don’t flush it.

UNIVERSAL SUGGESTIONS

Call your local Roto-Rooter plumbing expert annually to inspect your home’s plumbing system. Your service professional can snake all the drain lines in your home to remove any potential buildup before any severe clogging can occur. Depending upon how many people live in the house, your septic tank should be pumped every few years. If your home is attached to a municipal sewer system, your main sewer pipe should be cleaned periodically to prevent drain clogs. Older homes are more susceptible to clogs because they have sewer pipes that are made of clay, concrete or cast iron. Plastic pipes are less likely to experience root intrusion so they have fewer clogs.

Periodically, toss a handful of baking soda down the drain, followed by a stream of hot water. This combination will allow food particles to run down the drain and not stick to the side of the pipes. Baking soda also helps to absorb foul odors. You can also use vinegar to clean your sink, as it contain acetic acid, which helps in removing build-up. Pour 1 cup of vinegar down the drain and let it sit for about 30 minutes, then thoroughly rinse out the pipes by letting hot water stream down your sink.

Ultimately, to prevent drain clogs, do not treat your disposal, toilet, sink or shower like a dumpster. Pipes are narrow which means they are not meant to accommodate the size of every item you are attempting to flush. Always be mindful about what you're tossing into your drain.

  • On a monthly basis, use safe enzyme treatments, rather than harmful drain cleaners found at your local hardware stores. Roto-Rooter Pipe Shield® is a drain maintenance product that is easy to apply, economical and safe for the environment. Regular application provides a coating inside drain lines that keeps food, grime, hair and other debris from creating clogs in the pipe.
  • Run hot water through all drains regularly. It is best to run hot water in all drains after each use; For infrequently used drains, run or pour hot water on a weekly basis to clear away scum and build-up, and keep the p-trap full to prevent odors from escaping into the building.
  • Use a drain screen or mesh strainer to catch any hair or debris that may otherwise cause a drain clog. And, be sure to clean strainers regularly for optimum performance and eliminate odors.
  • Embrace baking soda and white vinegar. They will become your best friends when it comes to cleaning your kitchen, disinfecting your bathroom, and powering through some clogs. Simply pour one half cup of baking soda followed by one cup of vinegar down the drain. After allowing the solution to do its magic (usually within 10 minutes), pour a bucket of very hot water into the drain and repeat the process as necessary to enjoy optimal results.

If you find that you are experiencing frequent drain clogs, then it is time to call Roto-Rooter. They can help you determine the source of the problem and provide information about preventing and eliminating the problem once and for all.

  • Avoid using caustic chemical drain cleaners. Over time, these can corrode some pipes—and sometimes they don’t remove the whole clog.
  • Take care of your sewer lines and septic tank. You can call a plumber to help snake your main sewer on an annual or semi-annual basis. Doing this can remove tree roots that often grow into pipes at the joint and cause sewage backups.
  • If you have a septic tank, get your tank pumped every three to five years and regularly treat with a bacteria additive to keep the system in balance.
  • Bend a small hook onto the end of a straightened wire coat hanger then push it down your shower and sink drains, twirl it around then pull it back. Repeat the process two or three times to remove accumulated hair from these drains.
  • If your sink is draining slowly, then there is likely an obstructive item or accumulated buildup blocking the flow. Fortunately, there are a number of simple methods you can take to improve the flow of your sink drains, while helping to prevent a future drain clog or other common plumbing problems.

INSULATE YOUR PIPES

Protecting your pipes from harsh winter weather conditions is another crucial preventative step you can take when trying to avoid clogged drains and costly plumbing repairs. Even if your area doesn’t see extreme winters, all it takes is the temperature to go below freezing and you could potentially have frozen pipes. Your pipes will need a little extra insulation to keep them warm and not vulnerable to the elements.

Preparing your pipes is simple and can be done at home. Purchase pipe insulation sleeves at your local hardware store. Cut and wrap the insulation around the pipes that are most exposed to the elements.

ADDRESS PLUMBING ISSUES EARLY

Whether you have a leaky faucet or you are experiencing low water pressure, addressing plumbing issues early can save you added cost on your utility bill, not to mention the environmental impact on one of our most precious resources - water. Sometimes a repair can be a simple replacement part while other service calls might be more detailed. However serious the plumbing emergency, let Roto-Rooter’s team of prompt plumbing professionals assess the situation to get your plumbing working properly. We are available to service all of your plumbing needs - 24 hours a day, 7 days a week – including holidays.

INVEST IN SAFE ENZYME TREATMENTS

Enzyme treatments do not contain harmful chemicals, which are commonly found in typical drain cleaning products. The acid-based ingredients found in common drain cleaners can wreak havoc on your chrome or cast-iron pipes, eroding the surface over time and causing leaks and small holes. This will end up costing you more stress and frustration in the long run.

ROTO-ROOTER’S SIMPLE SOLUTION TO PREVENTATIVE DRAIN MAINTENANCE

If you’ve ever experienced a messy household clog, you were probably left wondering if there was any possible way you could have prevented the clog in the first place.

Our experts at Roto-Rooter have solved this challenge. Roto-Rooter Pipe Shield is an innovative, environmentally friendly solution to ongoing drain maintenance and clog prevention.

Over time, food, waste and other organic materials begin to build up in pipes. Slow-running drains or clogs are inevitable. Pipe Shield doesn’t remove clogs, but it prevents organic materials such as fats, grease, soaps, and detergents from building up in your drain and causing future clogs.

The active ingredient in Pipe Shield is a natural biological solution, so regular use won’t add harmful or toxic chemicals to your water system. Plus, it treats the whole plumbing system, not just sinks and traps. After six months of regular use, homeowners report that their drains flow quickly and freely. All it takes is a monthly application.

Learn more about Roto-Rooter Pipe Shield or order online (shipping is free!).

WHEN TO CALL THE PROFESSIONALS

Whether you have a clogged drain that needs immediate attention, a broken garbage disposal, or a toilet that just doesn’t have the flushing power it used to have, your local Roto-Rooter plumbing professional is a residential plumbing expert and is available 24/7/365.

For more do-it-yourself plumbing tips, see Roto-Rooter’s online plumbing basics for detailed information and helpful videos designed to help you maximize your plumbing’s efficiency throughout your home.

Sometimes do-it-yourself isn’t an option and when you need to call in the plumbing professionals, Roto-Rooter is equipped to handle all of your residential plumbing needs.

Our licensed and experience plumbers will get your plumbing serviced correctly, the first time.

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