A drain blockage is often left until it is so bad that it overflows into the home, and the owner is forced to call in an emergency plumber. But even worse than neglect is the constant use of chemicals to melt away smaller blockages and to speed up the drainage.
Supermarket drain cleaners use powerful corrosives to dissolve fat and organics clinging to the insides of pipes. All these chemicals do is move the blockage further down the line to areas that are harder to reach.
Drain cleaning chemicals will also eat through metal—including the old cast iron plumbing still common in many homes today. As the metal melts away, it creates pits and pockets for fat and food to cling to. In addition, these chemicals will chew through elbow joints and connections until they begin leaking.
If you want to prevent leaks without damaging your pipes while lessening the need to call out a plumber, then follow these tips: –
— Pouring Boiling Water Down Your Sink or Toilet
It would seem logical that you should be able to use boiling water to liquefy fat sticking to the inside of a pipe. Water is not as corrosive as chlorine, but boiling water can do more damage than any chemical.
The thermal shock of hot water meeting ceramics, cast iron and plastics can lead to small cracks and complete fractures. It is possible to shatter a porcelain toilet by pouring in boiling water or damage the ring seal at its base.
Modern homes will use PVC fittings, and hot water can melt piping and loosen the glue that sticks them together. It should be okay to pour hot water down a kitchen sink if you run the cold tap at the same time. But it is better to wait for the hot water to cool first.
— Home Remedies
Baking soda and vinegar is a popular home remedy for blocked pipes and drains maintenance. The bubbling action of the vinegar mixing with the baking soda can help to move smaller blockages around. But vinegar is too weak a corrosive to attack fats and other solid organics.
For complete blockages and effective prevention treatments, you are going to need a more thorough solution.
— A Plunger
Yes! The good news is that your trusted plunger is still relevant for unblocking drains. But there are different plungers for toilets and sinks, with different sized plunger heads. Plunging helps to break up the material blocking the drain without having to use any chemicals.
— A Drain Snake
Sometimes the blockage is out of sight and far from where the effects of chemicals or a plunger will be effective. Drain snakes get around the bends of a drain and drill through the material blocking the pipe. The design allows the user to break up and loosen the blockage without chemicals. The tool is flexible enough to make it through a sink’s drain with narrow pipes and turns.
— A Plastic Toothed Drain Snake
Like the basic drain snake, the plastic toothed version is a flexible cord that the user can push down the drain hole, but it is shorter. This snake also comes with small teeth to saw through or grab on to material—like hair stuck down a shower drain—so that it can be pulled back out.
— A Drain Auger
A drain auger is another effective way of tackling blockages without chemicals. Though you need to take care when pushing an auger through thin PVC sink piping. Otherwise known as a drain rooter, this tool combines the function of a long drain snake with a hand drill.
The end of a drain auger consists of a small, coiled spring to help guide the auger’s cable—as the user pushes it through the piping and the blockage. Once the end of the auger hits the blockage, the user can rotate the cable, which drills the coiled spring at the end through the blockage.
Some augers are manual, and you can also find ones that will run off a power drill. Drain rooters are better suited for use on small to medium blockages, but they can also get caught up on bends in narrow piping.
Best Practices on Plumbing Maintenance
There are a few things you can do without resorting to chemicals or a plumber. This includes modifying some basic habits—and watching how well your pipes drain water.
Stop Putting Food Down the Sink
Foods with high-fat contents such as cheese, chicken and grease are liquid when hot, but they will congeal on the inside of a cold drainage pipe. Pouring boiling water down the kitchen sink will melt the fat away at the top and then solidify further down as a clump.
The danger is that the further the fat moves down the pipe, the harder it is to get to. So, remember to scrape all food scraps into the bin and wait for grease and oils to cool so you can do the same.
Put the Wipes in the Bin
These products are a major problem for sewerage plants and your toilet. It is amazing how common it is to see wet wipes stuck in a sewerage trap. The wipe material is a perfect design for snagging onto the rough interior of a pipe and for causing a blockage.
Removing clumps of wet wipes and hygiene products is difficult to do without them moving as a giant mass further down the pipe. So, it is better not to give your plumber this challenge and instead put anything non-dissolvable in the bin.
These are removable covers that fit over a sink’s or bathtub’s drain hole. The idea is that these simple devices tangle up hair and chunks of soap before they get a chance to enter the drain. Some hair traps are disposable, but many reusable versions are effective and easy to clean.
Look for Leaks
You may not see a leak, but other signs such as mould and swollen rotting wood around cabinetry suggest that you have a problem. High-pressure leaks are indications of a mains water pipeline issue.
Mystery leaks coming from your drainpipes are often a sign that it is too late to try a preventative method. But you may still be able to use one of the tools above to remove the blockage before it gets worse.
Not all problems are fixable with simple tricks and tools. If you are in doubt, you can call a plumber to assess the line for pressure drops. A professional plumber will have both the instruments and the skills to remedy blockages and leaks faster than you can.