How to Prevent Slow and Clogged Drains

When drains don’t function as they should, homeowners are often left scratching their heads or reaching for dangerous liquid drain cleaners. Whether your showers turn into baths because of a slow drain, or your kitchen sink keeps clogging no matter what you do, you can use the following tips and tricks to prevent the problem from happening again.

Clear out debris

A number of handy tools can be used to clear out debris lurking underneath your drains. The most common are drain snakes, plumbing snakes, or zip-it tools. These thin tools reach into the drain and enable you to pull out any debris with ease. For a DIY solution, you can fashion your own tool by unfolding a wire hanger and turning it into a hook.

Try to establish a regular schedule for clearing out your drains. This may be monthly, or even weekly if you or your family members have long hair or bathe an animal that sheds a lot in the bathtub. That way, you can stay ahead of any slow-forming blockages by removing debris frequently.

Clean drain stoppers

If your tub or shower starts collecting water or draining slower than it should, turn to your drain stopper first as a likely culprit. A drain stopper can collect hair, soap scum, and other gunk that can slow down the drain considerably, or even clog it completely.  Fortunately, cleaning a drain stopper is a simple task that only requires a screwdriver, and a wash cloth or a drain cleaning tool, to help you remove the buildup.

The most common kind of drain stoppers, drop stoppers, can be removed by loosening the screw located under the cap. Then, you should be able to see whatever buildup has been causing the blockage and easily remove it from the drain. More than likely, there will also be buildup around the base of the stopper itself, which you should remove as well. If the stopper looks dirty due to soap scum or limescale exposure, you can use soap and hot water to clean it. If that doesn’t solve the problem, a lightweight, homemade cleaner such as a mixture of lemon and baking soda or vinegar can be used.

Use drain screens

A drain screen, strainer, or hair catcher fits over your drain and physically prevents debris from washing down it, while still allowing water to flow through. These simple items can be found at most hardware or bath stores. As another plus, they make it easy to clean up any debris that are collected while you use your bath, shower, or sink.

Know what doesn’t belong in your drains

Several items and substances have no place in your drains, even if they are commonly thought to be safe. By keeping these items away from your drains, you can reduce your chance of encountering a problem like a clog or a slow drain. The list of items that you should never put down your drain include:

  • Grease
  • Fats
  • Oil
  • Flour
  • Eggshells
  • Coffee Grounds
  • Paint or paint thinner
  • Nail polish remover

Some of these items, such as fats and grease, solidify at room temperature, causing them to slow down or potentially clog your drains as they harden and collect in your pipes. Other items, such as oils, coat drains and build up over time, resulting in drains that flow slower and slower as more oil accumulates. Flour and coffee grounds expand and form a sludgy, messy blockage, while paint products and nail polish remover can damage pipes with their chemical properties.

As a general rule of thumb, if you think something may damage your drain, find another way to dispose of it.

Take action quick

As soon as you notice a drain is moving slower than it should, take action to restore its flow. A drain that’s slightly slow is easier to unclog than a drain that’s blocked completely. For minor obstructions, sometimes all that’s needed is to flush the drain with boiling water—however, if your home has plastic pipes, this is not recommended. Instead, you can use a mix of vinegar and baking soda to dissolve the blockage naturally. Or, if you prefer, a plunger can be used to dislodge whatever’s causing the backup.

Avoid liquid drain cleaners

It can be tempting to reach for a liquid drain cleaner when you’re faced with a drain that’s slow or clogged. However, these cleaners can do more harm than good, and may not even address the problem at all. The corrosive ingredients in the cleaner will eat away at your pipes along with whatever’s clogging them, potentially creating a more expensive problem down the road. Additionally, the chemicals in these cleaners are poisonous to the environment and often end up polluting lakes, streams, and waterways.

Know when to call a plumber

If you find that your drains are often slow, and the tips above did little to solve the problem, it’s time to call in a professional plumber. Your problem may be due to deteriorating pipes, a clog deeper within the pipes, or a problem with your main drain line. In any of these cases, you may do more harm than good in the long run by trying to solve the problem yourself or by brushing it off.

To accurately diagnose the problem, a plumber may utilize tools and methods like video drain inspections to pinpoint exactly where and why the damage occurred. Once a video inspection has been completed, a number of options are available to clean the drain or clear stubborn clogs.

At Chas Roberts, we specialize in the following methods of cleaning and clearing drains:

Sewer machines

Otherwise known as drain snakes, these mechanical augers, or drills, are used to mechanically remove difficult blockages that cannot be removed from plunging or other methods. When operated by a plumber, sewer machines can restore optimal waterflow in your drains and leave no residual blockages behind.

Hydro Jetting

As the name suggests, hydro jetting utilizes a powerful high-pressure water stream to remove clogs and buildup inside of pipes. Hydro jetting also effectively flushes out pipes and gets everything flowing correctly by removing any grease, limescale, or other debris that have built up in the pipe walls over time.

Sewer & tree root removal

Tree roots can prove to be an unwelcome nuisance when it comes to your plumbing. Roots can move into underground sewer pipes if there is a leak in pipe, causing blockages and even breaking the pipes overall. Trees can have roots that stretch several thousands of feet, so just because you may not have a tree in your yard doesn’t mean you’re not at risk. Because this damage takes place underground, you may not even realize it’s happening until it’s almost too late to avoid a costly repair or catastrophic incident. That’s why it’s essential to schedule an inspection if you suspect that tree roots could be to blame for your slow or clogged drains.

Get to know the experts at Chas Roberts

Clogs, leaks, and other plumbing nuisances are no match for the experts at Chas Roberts. With over 75 years of experience, we have the knowledge and tools necessary to solve your plumbing problems. Contact us for exceptional service at an exceptional value.