KEEP YOUR DRAINS CLEAR
Eliminating all possible causes for a sluggish or blocked drain may not be possible, but there are certain things that can be done to reduce potential problems. The buildup of soap scum, grease and hair in drains occurs with normal life activities and is almost inevitable; but preventing the introduction of other objects that can contribute to blockage will go a long way toward ensuring your drains flow freely.
Aside from the inconvenience or downright horrors of a blocked or overflowing drain, there is a monetary consideration. Many drain and sewer cleaning companies now have flat minimum rates for cleaning drains regardless of the cause; so whether a blockage is due to a clump of toilet paper or an errant tennis ball, it could cost you a surprising sum.
Some tips and suggestions:
Keep the strainer or drain stopper in place at all sink, bathtub and shower drains.
Keep all small objects away from the toilet; toothbrushes, and jewelry can quickly disappear forever – or get stuck in a drain.
Keep your eye out for small children – a toilet bowl full of water is just one more play object to them. Anything and everything touched can end up in a toilet. And the excitement of seeing it flush away only adds to the danger. The bathroom should be off limits to young children. If the door can’t be locked, at least install a toilet seat lock to prevent toilet access.
Only flush toilet paper; even if paper towels or baby wipes make their way down the drain, they can potentially get hung up on tree roots or other protrusions further along the drain or sewer. Beware, commercially available wipes may be advertised as flushable, but that doesn’t mean they won’t get stuck somewhere else in the system. It is often best to dispose of these wipes in another manner.
Personal feminine hygiene products should not be flushed. Once again, while they may be advertised as flushable, they often get hung up downstream and are a major contributing factor in drain blockage.
If you live in an older neighborhood, chances are many of the buried sewer lines have settled or shifted over the years or have been infiltrated by tree roots. Check with the local authorities on any problems known to exist in your neighborhood.
Fine roots can infiltrate through even small cracks or gaps in a sewer line, creating an almost impenetrable obstruction. During dry or drought periods, root infiltration only increases as they seek out any source of water.
If root infiltration or other sewer line problems are known to exist or are suspected, consider pro-active sewer cleaning every few years. It may be costly, but will be a lot less than having to clean up after a sewer backup.
Video equipment is now available to inspect drain and sewer lines that otherwise are inaccessible without excavation or other invasive work. When problems occur and the cause is unknown and/or a recommendation is made to replace a line or section of a line, consider video imaging before attempting more expensive work.
Clean out strainers and drains periodically. Remove mechanical drain stoppers to clean out down below. If using commercially available cleaners, carefully read all package instructions and warnings. Many of these products can be harmful to your fixtures or plumbing system, or you. Consider environmentally safer alternatives. Even a plunger can produce good results when there is a minor drain blockage.
Remember, these tips are only general guidelines. Since each situation is different, contact a professional if you have questions about a specific issue.