It’s easy to forget how much we rely on our plumbing. When we first design our bathroom or do a renovation, it’s one of the details that most of us leave to the experts. After all, most people don’t notice their plumbing – until there’s a clog or another issue that forces us to confront things we thought we threw away.
Over time, the things we put down our drains in the kitchen, bathroom, and laundry rooms start to build up. Even if your home is newly built, without the narrow iron pipes that plague older houses, it’s easy for material to slowly build up over time, leading to clogs and other obstructions that can easily cause permanent structural damage.
Dirty, slow-draining pipes can exacerbate allergies for people who are sensitive to microbes and bacteria, and may start to attract pests if there’s water standing where it shouldn’t be.
Practice These Good Plumbing Habits for a Cleaner Drain
The best way to ensure your plumbing runs freely and stays clean is to practice good plumbing habits. By proactively taking care of your plumbing, you’ll ensure that it stays clean for years to come.
1. Keep These Items Out of Your Drain
The kitchen sink is an area that’s very vulnerable to clogs. Everyone knows that they shouldn’t be putting large items there, but often smaller scraps or liquid waste sneaks through.
Be careful to avoid throwing food waste like cooking oil, coffee grounds, tea leaves, or grease down your kitchen sink. They may slide down easily when while they’re still hot, but once they gets cold they’ll quickly clog your pipes.
In Canada, most cities and townships pick up organic waste, so make sure your kitchen scraps make it in there. Placing a small bowl on your cutting board while you prep your meals can help ensure your organic waste gets to the right place.
2. Run Hot Water Through Your Kitchen Sink Daily
As much as we try, it’s unavoidable that greasy residue and other small scraps of organic waste will make it down your kitchen sink. To help stop them from building up and clumping together, run hot or even boiling water through your sink for at least a few seconds every day.
If you’ve noticed some unusual or unpleasant smells, you can even dump a full tablespoon of liquid dish soap down your sink, followed by the hot water. This should help clear away any stubborn traces of grease that linger in your pipes.
3. Use a Sink Strainer
A sink strainer is a great resource that can be used in any sink in your home. Just place the little mesh strainer on your sink, and let it sit there, catching all the debris and detritus that would otherwise clog up your drains. These sink and drain strainers can be bought for a few dollars each and will fit most plumbing fixtures.
4. Don’t Treat Toilets Like a Trash Can
Many people make the critical mistake of treating their toilet as a trash can. They throw hair clippings, cotton swabs, dental floss, and used sanitary products down there without regard for their plumbing. Although a toilet flush is strong enough to eliminate human waste, they can’t handle these non-organic products and will eventually clog.
To make sure you’re not treating your toilet like a trash can, make sure you have an actual trash can in your bathroom. A small can that’s operated with a foot pedal will keep most garbage tucked away and out of sight.
5. Limit Hair
If you’re a naturally hirsute individual, you need to take extra efforts to keep your hair away from your drains, and out of your plumbing. Hair that sheds during showers and baths can quickly form an impenetrable clog in your pipes, requiring the use of a snake, or even a visit from a professional plumber. Make a point of brushing your hair vigorously before you step into the shower, which can help catch loose hair so it can be disposed of properly.
There are several products on the market now that slide easily down your drain, and catch hair before it clogs your pipes. To use these hair catchers or hair traps, just place them on or down your drain, and pull them up every few weeks to remove the hair that’s attached.
6. Avoid Chemical Drain Clearing Solutions
Most professional plumbers don’t recommend using chemical drain cleaners like Drano, especially if you have older pipes. These commercial chemical cleaners can be extremely harsh, corroding older pipes and softening PVC and even metal fittings. These chemicals are also toxic, and can have a negative environmental impact if they find their way into the groundwater.
7. DIY Pipe Clearing Solutions with Pantry Ingredients
Instead of using chemical drain cleaners, learn how to fix minor clogs and blocked drains yourself. There are many DIY drain clearing solutions you can use.
Pull the Plug
If the drain in your sink is moving slowly, put a stopper in the sink, then fill the sink up with hot water. Once the sink is full, carefully remove the stopper so the force of the water clears the blockage.
Vinegar, Salt, and Baking Soda
There are a few different DIY solutions for blocked drains that use vinegar, and either salt or baking soda. The vinegar and salt solution uses 1/4 cup of regular table salt, followed by at least 1/2 cup of white vinegar. If you want to use baking soda instead, make the ratio 1:1 baking soda and white vinegar. Let the mixture sit in your pipes for at least an hour, then flush it down with hot water.
Plunger and Snake
Every household should have a plunger and a drain snake. These tools are necessary for dealing with toilet and other drain clogs that need to be physically cleared.
As much as we love having customers come visit us at Duby’s Home Centre, we’d prefer it’s not because of a plumbing emergency! With these helpful tips, you can keep your plumbing running free and clear, and save your money for more fun bathroom renovation projects.