You have a variety of options when it comes to clearing clogged drains -- there are chemical cleaners, organic solutions, plumbing snakes, plungers and more. But why go to the trouble when it’s cheaper and easier to just prevent clogs in the first place?
Taking care of a drain mostly just requires you to be careful. Add to that a few proactive cleanings each year, and your chances of developing a serious clog become very low.
What’s the Worst That Could Happen?
When you don’t take good care of your drains, the first consequence is often a foul smell. This is more common in kitchen drains where organic food particles can rot, wafting noxious air into the kitchen. But even bathroom and floor drains can be the source of offensive odors.
After the smell, the next problem is usually clog formation. This happens gradually, causing drains to simply work slowly at first, followed by a complete closure of the drain system.
Finally, if drain systems are really neglected, permanent damage can occur. No drain is built to last forever, but basic care can extend a drain’s useful life by decades, whereas neglect can have the opposite effect.
Watch What You Wash
The most important aspect of preventative drain maintenance is being careful about what goes down the drain. In bathtubs and showers, the biggest problem is usually hair. But this is easy enough to avoid by using a wire mesh filter over the drain. Cleaning it out after every shower just takes a couple of seconds.
In the kitchen, you should take care to avoid putting anything but water down the sink drain. Many organic food products -- but not all -- can go into the garbage disposal. Among the most common clog culprits for both drains and disposals are grease and coffee grounds -- always put those in the trash can instead.
Floor drains can be troublesome because it’s so easy for debris to fall in inadvertently. If you have floor drains in a basement, laundry room or elsewhere, make sure they have suitable drain covers. Don’t make a habit of sweeping or washing debris into the drain if you can avoid it.
A Little TLC
It pays to gently clean the inside of a drain about twice a year in order to prevent the buildup of biofilm, hairballs and other clog-causing gunk. But this is extremely easy -- and cheap.
White vinegar is mildly acidic but powerful enough to dissolve most of the particles forming in your drains. Simply pour about two cups of vinegar down the drain, wait at least ten minutes, and then flush the drain with very hot water.
This, along with diligence about what you allow to wash down the drain in the first place, can make household drain clogs a thing of the past.
But if you do get a stubborn clog that you just can’t clear, don’t forget -- you can always count on your licensed local plumbers.