Easy Ways to Avoid Clogged Drains

Drains are a mechanism designed to let wastewater flow from one place to another, usually from a sink, toilet, or washing machine to a sewer or septic tank. The problem is that wastewater often contains more than just water. The best and easiest way to prevent clogs is to watch what you let wash down your kitchen and bathroom sinks, tubs, and shower drains. Here are easy ways to keep your drains clog-free.

What Not to Wash Down Your Drain

Drains whisk things away so quickly and easily that it’s tempting to toss everything into them and have them just disappear. Unfortunately, being careless about what you flush down your drains can turn a convenient way to dispose of unwanted material into a clog that you or a plumber will have to go to some trouble to clear. So, resist the temptation to wash any of these items down your drains.

1. Coffee Grounds

You might figure that since you can typically put food down the garbage disposal, why not coffee grounds? However, coffee grounds are a different case since they tend to clump up in water rather than wash away as individual granules. Over time, coffee grounds can build up, causing a clog. So, always toss them in the trash can, or better yet, in the compost pile.

2. Grease, Oils, and Fats

When they’re hot or at room temperature, grease, oils, and fats are liquid. But when they cool down in your pipes, they turn into a sticky solid that can form a clog on its own or attract other debris that might otherwise wash away. Some people keep certain kinds of grease like bacon fat for future use in cooking, but if you don’t, it’s best to pour it into a sealable container or onto a paper towel and throw it in the garbage.

3. Leftover Food

Flushing little scraps of leftovers off your dinner plates into the garbage disposal is one thing, but sending containers full of stuff that may have gone bad in your refrigerator is another. Some food items that can be particularly problematic for your drains include:

  • Stringy fibrous foods like fish skins, banana peels, celery, and eggshells.
  • Starchy foods like potatoes, potato peels, pasta, and rice.

4. Produce Stickers

Sure, they’re small, but they are sticky and don’t dissolve in water. Peel them off and throw them away in the garbage instead.

5. Hair and Soap Scum

Bathroom sink, tub, and shower drains often get clogged with a combination of leftover soap and wads of hair. To prevent these kinds of clogs, make a point of thoroughly brushing your hair out before you shower or bathe. In addition, it’s a good idea to install a stainless steel mesh screen or perforated cover over the drain to catch hair.

What to Do if Your Drain Gets Clogged

Despite your most vigilant efforts to keep problem items out of your drains, you might find yourself facing standing water in your sink, tub, or shower that refuses to drain. What do you do then? Before you call in a plumber, there are a few tricks and techniques you can try to clear a drain yourself.

Liquid Chemical Drain Cleaners

Off the shelf liquid drain cleaners may seem like a quick and easy solution, but that convenience comes with a risk of damaging your drains in the long run. The downsides of liquid drain cleaners include:

Harsh Ingredients

The ingredients in liquid drain cleaners are harsh, and the process is very unforgiving to plumbing systems, the environment, and even your health. Contact with liquid drain cleaners can also burn the skin, and inhaling their fumes can irritate your eyes, nose, and throat.

Pipe Damage

Liquid drain cleaners produce heat as they break up clogs. This can soften and weaken PVC pipes and cause or worsen corrosion in older metal pipes.

Can Cause Future Clogs

Every time you use a liquid drain cleaner, it leaves behinds a greasy residue that can build up after repeated uses and create a new clog.

Not Good for All Situations

Liquid drain cleaners won’t clear a clog caused by solid objects. Additionally, you shouldn’t use chemical cleaners in kitchen sinks that have a garbage disposal or if you are on a septic system.

Natural Drain Cleaners

If you’re put off by the dangers, harshness, and environmental downside of chemical clog busters, you can try a more natural approach. All you’ll need is some vinegar, baking soda, boiling water, and these simple instructions:

  1. First bring a quart or two of water to a boil in a pot or pan and pour it down the clogged drain.
  2. Then mix a cup of baking soda in 1 cup of water and 1 cup of vinegar and pour it down the drain.
  3. Cover the drain with a plug and let it sit for 5 to 10 minutes.
  4. Finally, pour another pot of boiling water down the drain, which should clear your clog.

Physical Drain Cleaners

If you’ve got a stubborn clog that won’t clear, you may need to opt of a mechanical solution. You’re probably familiar with toilet plungers, but you can also get a smaller one that’s made for sink, shower, or bathtub drains. Simply put the cup of the plunger over the drain and push down as many times as needed to clear the clog.

If the clog still won’t clear or is way down deep in the pipe, it may be time to use a “snake” or drain auger. Just maneuver the tip of the snake or auger and crank the handle to push the cable down into the drainpipe to physically break up the clog.

Leave it to the Professionals

For larger clogs and recurring issues, it’s best to leave things to the professionals. Plumbers have access to equipment that is far more powerful than anything you’d get on your own, and they have the skills necessary to clear even the most stubborn clogs.

At Chas Roberts, our drain cleaning and clog-busting services include:

Video inspection

A drain inspection allows plumbers to see what the problem is firsthand. With clear video footage, they can spot even the smallest problems.

Drain snakes

Also known as sewer machines, these snakes mechanically remove difficult blockages that aren’t fixable with plunging alone.

Hydro jetting

This powerful tool uses a high-pressure water stream to clear tough recurring clogs and blockages. It can also remove grease, limescale, and other debris that build up in pipe walls over time.


Contact Chas for all your plumbing needs

Whether you have a small drain clog that won’t clear or a major one in your main sewer line, call Chas Roberts. Our plumbers use technology like video drain inspections to get to the bottom of what your pipes are hiding. Contact us today for all your drain cleaning and plumbing needs.