5 Things You Need to Know Right Now About Your Home’s Drains
Nothing can put a damper on your day quite like an unexpected plumbing problem, especially a drain that’s stopped working and just won’t empty. Unfortunately, clogged drainsare a semi-regular occurrence in many homes. In fact, it’s one of the most frequent service calls we receive. While it may not seem like a big deal, drain blockage can lead to leaks in other parts of your home, not to mention overflow of dirty, bacteria-ridden water. In addition to producing bad odors, dirty water can pose health risksfor everyone living in your home. The good news is that clogged drains can be avoided with regular preventative maintenance. Here are five things you should know about your drains – and red flags that could indicate a serious problem.
No. 1: Your Home’s Drainage System Is Cool
Seriously! Actually, your home’s plumbing is like a tree: the main line that runs vertically throughout the entire structure is the trunk, and the offshoot lines that connect the main line to specific fixtures and appliances are the branches. If a clog occurs in the “trunk,” it will cause plumbing issues everywhere in the house; if a “branch” gets clogged, the problem will likely be isolated to that area of the house.
- As opposed to supply systems, which depend on pressure to function, drainage systems work by using gravity to move waste throughout the main plumbing stack of your home.
- As you can see in this illustration, drainage pipes all pitch or angle downward, and the air supply coming from the roof vent allows for proper flow.
- Because of its structure, your home’s drainage system is also known as the drain-waste-vent (DWV) system.
Red Flag: A drain that doesn’t appear backed up but emits a gurgling sound when in use is often a sign of a big clog forming.
No. 2: Drains Are Not Trash Cans
While it may be tempting to treat certain parts of your home’s drainage system like a wastebasket that you don’t have to empty, you actually need to be very mindful of what you put into your pipes:
- In the kitchen, don’t pour grease down your sink drain, as it can congeal and form a big clog (in NYC, grease causes 71% of sewer backups). Instead, collect the grease in a leftover jar or can that you can properly dispose of once it’s full.
- Additionally, putting large amounts of pasta, rice, potatoes, or other starchy foods through the garbage disposal can cause troublesome buildup in your pipes.
- In the bathroom, avoid flushing anything other than toilet paper and waste (1 in 5
homeowners dealswith a clogged toilet on a regular basis).
- Never flush reactive substances like grout or cement, as they will wreck your pipes.
Red Flag: If you notice that the water level in your toilet has been fluctuating between normal, high, and low, there is a blockage somewhere in your home’s plumbing system.
No. 3: Stoppers and Screens Aren’t Just for Looks
Drains in your home that don’t have a good mechanism for preventing unwanted materials from getting rinsed into your pipes should be taken care of:
- Hair and soap often combine in your tub or shower to create clogs that just keep growing, so putting a mesh screen over your drain or installing a stopper with a built-in screen is a good call.
- The pop-up stopper in your bathroom sink is a magnet for all kinds of debris, so be sure to regularly remove it and clean it off.
- Even if the drain for your washing machinehas never backed up, install a lint catcher on the hose to prevent any problems from occurring.
Red Flag: If water starts backing up and pooling around your basement drain, you likely have a main line clog that needs to be addressed immediately.
No. 4: Slow Drains and Minor Clogs Can’t “Wait”
If you notice that a drain in your home isn’t emptying as quickly as it usually does, take measures to tackle the problem as soon as possible:
- Over-the-counter drain cleaners can contain harmful chemicals, so try pouring a pan of boiling water down the drain to clear any solidified fats or oils.
- If hot water alone doesn’t do the trick, mix a cup of baking soda with a cup of apple cider vinegar, pour it down the drain, let it sit for 30 minutes, and rinse with boiling water.
- After using these methods to tackle small clogs, use a shop vacuum on the wet setting to suck any remains of junk out of the pipes.
- If you have a low-flow toilet that’s prone to draining slowly, routinely fill a large bucket with water and pour it into your toilet while flushing to keep the main drain line clear.
Red Flag:If you notice a smell like rotten eggs or garbage coming from a drain in your home, it means that a major clog is developing.
No. 5: It’s Okay to Call for Help
If your home frequently suffers from drainage issues no matter what you do, scheduling a professional drain cleaning is smart. Here are some other signs that it’s time to call a pro:
- You’ve had problems with slow-flowing drains for several weeks.
- You live in an older home and have never had the drains professionally cleaned.
- You’ve dealt with tree roots penetrating your sewer lines in the past.
- You’re preparing to sell your home.
Red Flag: If your laundry drain backs up when you flush the toilet, or the shower backs up when you run water in the kitchen sink, you have a main line clog that needs to be serviced ASAP.
Not calling a pro in time can result in a major disruption – to your life and your bank account. Check with two or three plumbers in your area before making a decision: Angie’s List, Home Advisor,
Maplewood Plumbing has been serving St. Louis-area homeowners for more than 30 years. We’re proud of our A+ BBB and our multiple industry awards. Plumbing issues? Give us a call at 314-207-2503 or fill out the contact form hereto get in touch.
Comments are closed