Your home's drain pipes see a whole lot of use. After all, everything that you put down the drain or flush down the toilet eventually ends up running through the main drain line. Everything from hair to grease and even food residue can build up in the drains, leading to clogs that can even cause major plumbing backups. The first line of defense against these types of problems is your own behaviors. The more attentive you are to your drain pipes and what goes down them, the less likely you'll be to have a problem in the future. Here are some tips to help you care for your home's drains.
Drain the Grease Elsewhere
The drain may seem like the easiest place to dispose of your grease. Unfortunately, pouring grease down your drains is only going to lead to disaster. The grease will harden and solidify as it cools on its way through your drain pipes, which creates a buildup that's eventually going to clog the lines. You may have heard that you can avoid this problem by running hot water down the drain with it. Unfortunately, that hot water cools as it runs down the pipe, and along with it – the grease. It doesn't prevent the clog, it just shifts it further down into your pipes.
To avoid this, pour your grease into a disposable can or jar. When it hardens, you can throw it away. Or, if you're looking for a way to reduce your waste, save cooking grease like that from bacon, store it in the refrigerator and re-use it when you're making other dishes later.
Be Attentive to Your Disposal
Garbage disposals are often overlooked as a source of plumbing problems. After all, it's buried inside your drain, out of sight, and probably not used very often. That doesn't mean it isn't prone to problems. Garbage disposals, like any other motor-driven component, are prone to malfunction and failure. When a disposal fails, it can lead to clogs and drain problems.
Don't ever put food in the disposal without running it. If you put food in the disposal without turning it on, it may cake onto the blades and jam the disposal. Keep the water running for several seconds after you hear the grinding stop, then turn the disposal off. The water flushes away any residual particles stuck on the blades. Also, avoid stringy foods, peels and coffee grounds in the disposal, because they can actually cause the disposal to bind up.
Add Screens to Keep Particles Out
Drain screens are one of the most inexpensive ways to protect your home's drains from clogs. They are small screens that fit over the drain to keep particles and hair from reaching your plumbing. You can find them in many styles, from recessed screens to fit deep drains to flat ones to sit over shower or floor drains. Just make sure you clean each one out regularly so that you don't end up slowing your water flow.
While you're adding screens to the water drains, don't overlook your washing machine drain hose. A screen on the drain line of your washer will help prevent sediment from clogging the washer pump or causing clogs in your plumbing system. Washing machine drain screens are disposable, so just swap it out every month or so, or any time it seems full of debris.
As you can see, there are steps you can take on your own to be proactive about protecting your home's drain pipes. If you follow the tips presented here, you'll be less likely to have plumbing backups. For the most effective plumbing protection, talk with your local plumber to evaluate your pipes and help you deal with any other vulnerabilities before they lead to serious clogs.
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