How to Prevent Clogs in Water Pipes
In most U.S. households, running water gets taken for granted. From sinks, dishwashers and washing machines to showers, toilets and outside hoses, people generally don’t consider how water enters and exits the home. As such, the typical resident will often place great strain on his or her water system without considering the consequences. Whether this involves flushing down food particles and hairs or constantly running faucets at hot temperatures and high pressures, the amount of stress that water pipes endure rarely crosses the user’s mind. Only when clogs occur do most people consider the limits of water pipes.
Don’t Rely on Drain Cleaners
Of course, most people simply reach for bleaches and drain cleaners to rid clogging and then return to indiscriminate water use as normal. Trouble is, all this really does is offer a temporary fix to a long-term problem. While Drano-like products will usually free up water flow, they don’t entirely remove the obstructions. Therefore, the clogging is likely to recur at shorter intervals going forward, especially when water gets used at higher pressures and faucets are treated as garbage disposals. Drain-cleaning products can also erode the interior lining of pipes, which means the likelihood of leaks increases with each repetition of this abusive cycle.
Call a Plumber When You Get a Clogged Drain
If and when a clog in a home drain pipe does occur, the best remedy is to call a plumber and have the pipeline professionally snaked. That way, the drainpipe will be spared of harmful chemicals that could reduce its lifespan and ultimately lead to a more catastrophic plumbing issue down the line. From that point onward, care should be taken to ensure clogs don’t reoccur in the future. After all, once you’ve experienced the discomfort and setbacks of even a brief plumbing backup, it can inspire a newfound appreciation of water’s importance in everyday functions.
Don’t Let Food Particles or Hairs Slip Down Drains
Clogs are generally caused when inappropriate items are flushed down the wrong pipe. For example, if food particles are rinsed down a drain in a kitchen sink that lacks a garbage disposal, those particles could simply accumulate at the j-bend without moving forward. Over time, these particles could result in a clog. A similar process occurs when hair strands are allowed down shower drains, or when anything but bodily waste and toilet paper are flushed down toilets. Usually, the clogging process builds up over repeated instances of drain abuse. In worst-case scenarios, something large and insoluble is allowed to slip down and a major clog occurs.
Dispense With Unconsumed Food in the Trash
The solution to clogs, of course, is to not allow anything but the appropriate liquids to enter your drains. Unless your kitchen sink has a garbage disposal, no food particles should be dropped in the sink, period. Whether you wash dishes by hand or run them in a dishwasher, scrape all food remnants into a Glad® bag and dispose of it in a trashcan outside for weekly pickup. Likewise, if food crumbs are leftover on a countertop after a meal has been prepared, dispose of them in the garbage, not the sink. Furthermore, a strainer should be placed over the kitchen sink faucet to prevent stray particles from making their way down the drain.
Don’t Use the Toilet as a Garbage Disposal
Similar precautions should be taken with the bathroom sink, as well as the bathtub and toilet. Don’t rinse shaven whiskers down the sink or empty loose hairs from combs or brushes into the toilet. Dispense with hairs, as well as finger and toe nails, in the trash instead. For showers, keep a strainer over the bathtub drain to prevent loose hairs from going down — the biggest cause of tub-drain clogs is hair wads. The toilet, meanwhile, should only be used for natural functions. Do not use the toilet to flush down overcooked pasta, used coffee grounds, old condiments, fruit or vegetable scraps, bad soups or other undesirables— regardless of how soft, thin or crumb-like a once-edible piece of food might appear.
Don’t Use the Garbage Disposal as a Trash Compactor
People often think garbage disposals can handle anything, when in actuality, disposals merely function as drain facilitators. If your kitchen sink is equipped with one, the most it should be used for is to grind up soft, small, stray food remnants. Don’t use the disposal to clear plates of half-consumed meals or to dispense with any of the following:
- Pasta or rice. Foods like these continually expand as they absorb more water, which can ultimately clog a drain.
- Oil or grease. Despite the blades, disposals lack internal scrubbing mechanisms, without which oils can leave their mark over time. This can eventually cause blade decay. Greases quickly harden once removed from heat, which can cause hard-to-remove clogs inside drain pipes.
- Fibrous fruits and vegetables. Large produce chunks shouldn’t be rinsed down a disposal anyway, but fibrous fruits and veggies can wrap around the blades. Examples of foods in this category include carrots, asparagus, potatoes, lettuce, corn, onions and celery.
- Egg shells. The parts of food items that are inappropriate for chewing or human body consumption are generally wrong for garbage disposals as well.
If you maintain a mulch pile outside, dispense with all fruit, vegetables and coffee grounds there. Otherwise, the above foods and cooking products should all be dispensed with in Glad® or Hefty® bags in a tightly sealed trash can for weekly pickup. Use paper towels to dispose of excess oil and grease in this manner.