Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Clog Prevention 101

Tips on Avoiding Common Household Drain Problems

Clogs in toilets, sinks, tubs and other fixtures and appliances may seem to come out of the blue, but they just don't happen without a reason. Nine times out of ten, they were caused by you and your family not paying attention to what or how much you are putting down your drains. But by staying alert and following these incredibly easy tips, you can significantly reduce the likelihood of experiencing a clogged drain in your home.

Avoiding Clogged Toilets:

To help prevent clogged toilets, keep in mind that the toilet is not a trash can. Food is never to be flushed down a toilet -- especially greasy or fibrous foods. Cigarette butts are another major no-no; they can easily get stuck in the nooks and crannies of your drain system.

Think paper products are OK? With the exception of toilet paper, the anwer is NO. Soap wrappers or women’s sanitary products should never be put into the toilet because they will expand and create blockage. Even paper towels and facial tissue should be avoided because they do not dissolve as easily as toilet paper. Keep a wastebasket in the bathroom for items like this.

If you have small children, keep toys out of the bathroom and the lid down. A child may decide that the toilet makes a good “swimming pool” for their toys, and the next thing you know you have a clogged toilet.

Eliminating Clogs in Showers and Sinks:

The most common clogging culprits in bathroom showers and sinks are soap scraps and human hair.

Hair is a real problem. It doesn’t deteriorate, and, in fact, it coils up like a spring and builds up to lodge in the drainpipe. Check the strainers at the sink or tub drain outlets to make sure they are in proper condition and not worn Good strainers will help keep hair from going into the drain and then lodging in clumps and blocking the drains. However, remember to remove the hair the strainer catches after each use, otherwise hair will work its way into the drain.

The problem with soap is when you get down to that last sliver, and it ends up down the drain and contributing to the clog. You can prevent this by remembering to throw the soap in the wastebasket before it becomes a tiny sliver.

Keeping Clogs Out of the Kitchen:

Of course, kitchen sinks are usually equipped with a strainer to keep food particles or other things from getting into the drain. If your sink doesn’t have a strainer, by all means buy one; it could be one of the best investments you ever made!

However, grease, which will pass through the strainer, is a common cause for kitchen sink clogs. When cooking fatty foods, try to capture the grease and poor it into a cup or bowl rather than letting it go into the drain when you clean up. When the grease hardens in the cup you can scrape it into the garbage. Also, after cleaning up greasy pots and plates, fill the sink with warm water and let it drain. This will help reduce grease build up.

And special care should be exercised in using a garbage disposal, if you have one. First, check the manual and make sure you know which food materials the disposal is designed to handle without becoming clogged. Second, when you put food scraps in the disposal, put them in loosely; tightly packed scraps can clog the machine. Third, make sure you’re running cold water (not hot) when you’re operating the disposal, and let the water keep running for a minute or two after you turn the disposal off to flush food residue out of the drainpipe. Also, when you’re not using the disposal, it’s a good idea to keep the cover on it so that stray kitchen items don’t fall in and either clog or damage the machine.

Minimizing Lint Clogs in the Laundry:

To prevent clogs in laundry machines, clean out the lint trap in the washing machine after each use. Additionally, you can install a nylon mesh lint trap over the washing machine’s discharge hose, to catch excess lint and keep it from entering the drain.

Also, after you’ve done your laundry, it’s a good idea to turn off the shutoff valves on the hot and cold water lines that bring water into your machine. This is an especially good idea if you’re going to be away from home for a while. Here’s why: when you leave the water on, these water hoses will be under constant pressure, and if the water hoses happen to burst when you’re away from home, you’ll come home to a flooded laundry area.