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How to prevent clogged drains

Plumbing Problems Solved: How to Prevent Clogged Drains

You never realize how much you rely on your home's plumbing until it all stops working. From residential pipes to city sewers, clogs are a real problem. Although some of these clogs might be inevitable, many can be avoided with good prevention strategies.

It's as easy as knowing what should and shouldn't be poured down your drain. This knowledge sounds commonplace -- but it really isn't. And unfortunately, it can be the difference between clean pipes and hundreds of dollars in plumbing repairs.

Treat your house and wallet with respect. Here are a few simple ways to prevent or clean clogged drains.

1. Grease is for the Garbage

Odds are you've poured grease down the kitchen sink at some point in your life, whether on accident or without care. Of all the plumbing sins, this is probably the worst and most widespread.

It may be easy to wash the bacon fat out of your skillet, but you'll pay for it later on when you need to call a plumber for an expensive drain cleaning.

What's so bad about grease anyway? Well, grease is a liquid when it's fresh off the pan. But as it slides down your sink, it cools down to room temperature and solidifies.

Now that the drain is lined with slick grease, debris will stick to your pipes and form a clog. The worst part about grease is the clog tends to occur deeper in the pipe. This means you have no choice but call a professional, and they may experience some expensive complications.

Don't pour grease down the kitchen sink, the bathtub, or even the toilet. Instead, take an empty can or other container meant for the trash. When the grease is still hot, pour the liquid in the container.

And hold onto it! You can use this can or jar until it's full of solidified grease. That's when you're good to chuck it in the trash.

It may seem like a hassle, but it's far easier and less expensive than calling a professional for drain cleaning services.

2. Use the Disposal Sparingly

And on the subject of kitchen sinks, don't use it as a trash can. Grease is bad, but many other food items aren't much better.

An old superstition suggests that eggshells are great for your disposal. They sharpen the blades -- or something!

Yeah, that's not true. Eggshells are terrible for the disposal because they are stubborn and sticky, putting both your disposal and plumbing at risk. Even certain fruits, vegetables, and starches can lead to expensive clogs.

If you really want to prevent clogged drains, stop putting anything but water down them. I mean, just look at this list of things that shouldn't go down the garbage disposal.

Instead, have the trash can in an easily accessible location so you're not tempted to throw everything into the kitchen sink.

3. Install a Drain Screen

To stop foreign debris from clogging your drains, consider installing a mesh screen. The simplest option is to purchase a mesh screen that slips over your drain. You can also find models that fix to your current drain via a screw, ensuring it doesn't slide around or pop out.

A mesh screen doesn't make sense for every drain. For example, you won't want one for the kitchen sink. However, it's a great idea for the bathroom sink and shower drain.

Hair is usually the culprit of these clogged drains. In the same way that it tangles on your head, the stringy fibers can wrap around the stopper or deeper in the plumbing.

But when you install a mesh stopper, this will stop hair from ever entering your drain in the first place. Be sure to empty the mesh screen often. Although it's gross, it's still better than having to call in a plumber!

4. Wash It Off Outdoors

Did you just come back from the beach? Stop. Don't wash your beach supplies in the sink.

No, not even the utility sink. That abrasive sand will settle somewhere in your pipes. And once it's there, it'll act like a sand trap and catch other objects that tumble down the drain.

Instead of cleaning these supplies in the house, use an outdoor hose to spray everything off.

This is true for more than sandy buckets and clothing. After a home improvement project, you might have mortar, grout, or other adhesive materials on your tools. Wash them down in a bucket, pour the water out, and trash the sticky sediment.

5. How to Clear a Clogged Drains

Even with the best practices, sometimes clogs still happen. And that's okay. You have options.

No matter what you do, never use a harsh chemical cleaner to break up the clog. They aren't the most effective option and can damage your plumbing in the process. Go for a natural approach.

For a simple clog, very hot water can break up the debris. But odds are, hot water alone won't do the trick.

Sprinkle some baking soda down the sink along with the hot water. Still not enough? Try using vinegar instead.

You can find toothed drain snakes in most department stores that handle small clogs. But if none of these strategies clean a clogged drain, you might have to rely on a professional. It may seem frustrating, but there are several reasons why you should use professional drain cleaning rather than doing it yourself.

In Need of Drain Cleaning Services?

Clogged drains are a fact of life. And when you can't clear a clogged drain yourself, it's time to let a professional plumber handle the work for you. If you try and ignore the problem, the clog will only get worse over time.

Mr. Rooter Plumbing of Austin has over 25 years of plumbing experience with a primary focus on customer satisfaction. If you live in the Austin area, our drain cleaning services can help you out in a jiffy.