5 Ways to Reduce Clogs in Your Plumbing

When your kitchen sink or bathtub are slow to drain, it is usually a sign a clog is forming in the pipes below. Sticky residue builds up on the inside of the pipes and food, hair and other items collect in these spots, slowly creating a blockage. To reduce the occurrence of clogs in your pipes, make a few changes how you maintain your drains. Improve the drains in your home and reduce calls to your local plumber with these five tips.

  1. Add drain strainers. Use strainers in your kitchen sink and bathtub/shower drains to keep hair, pieces of soap and food debris from going down the drain.
  2. Stop using bar soap. Most bar soaps are made with congealing fats. Switch to liquid soaps to keep the fats in bar soaps from coating the inside of your pipes.
  3. Add a garbage disposal. If you do not have a garbage disposal, consider adding one. Those with 1/2 to 1 HP are the best at grinding food finer to reduce clogs in your kitchen drain pipes.
  4. Keep grease out of your drains. Never rinse out a greasy pan in your sink. First, pour the grease into a container and then wipe the pain with a paper towel. Grease is usually the culprit when it comes to kitchen drain clogs.
  5. Be careful what you flush. Do not flush cotton balls or swabs down the toilet, or anything with plastic, cardboard or rubber. Anything that is not biodegradable should not be flushed.

Make sure to educate everyone in your family on how to reduce clogs to keep your plumbing pipes clear. If you do get a clog, let a plumber handle the removal to protect your pipes from damage.

Posted on behalf of:
Seagraves Plumbing Sewer & Septic
4980 Plant Atkinson Rd SE
Smyrna, GA 30080
(494) 792-2221

5 Signs of Drain Pipe Problems

Every fixture in your home that uses water also uses a drain pipe. The water, debris and waste that goes down these pipes should safely exit your home into your sewer line, but that is not always the case. When a problem occurs with your drain pipes, you could have waste leaking or backing up into your home, or pests trying to get in. Here are five signs you may have a drain pipe issue in your home that needs an immediate inspection.

  1. Drain slow downs and backups. One of the most common drain pipe issue is a clog. Slow drains and backup are usually caused by interior drain clogs but could be a sign of sewer line issue as well.
  2. Mold and mildew. Have you noticed more mold and mildew in your home or on a wet wall? You may have a small leak in one of your drain pipes that is collecting moisture in your home.
  3. Pest problems. It only takes a small crack or hole in a drain or sewer line to give pests a way into your home. If you notice creepy crawlies coming up your drains, you may have a break in your drain line.
  4. Bad odors. Does a foul odor come from your drains? You should have them inspected to see where the odor is coming from.
  5. Water spots. Water spots on walls or ceilings is a bad sign. You may have a drain pipe or water line leak hiding behind your walls.

If you have any of these trouble signs, call your local plumber for an inspection. They can use a video camera to access the inside of your drain lines to find the problem quickly and offer a repair solution.

Posted on behalf of:
Seagraves Plumbing Sewer & Septic
4980 Plant Atkinson Rd SE
Smyrna, GA 30080
(494) 792-2221

Keeping Hair Out Of Your Tub Drains

A clogged sink drain can be a major inconvenience, but at least the trap and the first few feet of drain line are usually accessible under the sink or in the cabinet.  Most handy homeowners have a good chance of successfully clearing clogs in these areas.

Tub and shower drains are another matter entirely.  The trap is usually not accessible, and even if it is the trap is not easily removed by hand like most sink drain traps.  The result is that a clog in a tub or shower drain usually means a call to the plumber to clear the  clogged drain.

One way to minimize these calls and save yourself a little money is to keep hair out of these drains as much as possible. Hair is easily the most common cause of tub and shower drain clogs.  Hair catches on the stopper, the grate, and any little imperfection in the drain.  It then starts collecting more hair, soap scum, dirt and debris and before you know it a clog has formed.  Less hair in the drain equals fewer clogs.

Your local home improvement store carries a selection of hair catching strainers in a variety of shapes and sizes to fit almost any type or size of drain.  These are plastic or metal devices that are easily removable for cleaning which is convenient because you will need to clean it often.  Whenever hair accumulates on the strainer, take it out and clean the hair out of it.

By catching and disposing of hair before it has a chance to reach your drain, you will be able to prevent most tub or shower drain clogs and keep more money in your pocket.

What Not to Flush Down Your Drain

Your kitchen and bathtub drains seem like a convenient way to dispose of liquids and other flushable materials, but you can save yourself a lot of trouble and some expensive plumbing repairs by being careful what you put down the drain.  This goes double for homes that are on septic systems.  These systems are meant to treat and dispose of household wastewaters, sewage, and small amounts of paper.  Anything else can cause clogged drains that will require drain cleaning.

Avoid pouring any type of caustic chemicals down the drain.  Small amounts of cleaning fluids are acceptable, pesticides, caustic chemicals, and chemical drain cleaners should be avoided.  Also, don’t pour anything down the drain that can harden on the walls of the pipes.  Over time, these materials will lead to clogs that can be particularly difficult to remove.

These fluids include paint, oil, grease, lard, butter or margine.  In addition, some homeowners make a habit of flushing all sorts of solid materials down the drain.  If you have a garbage disposal, this isn’t such a  problem, but even with a garbage disposal solid materials will adhere to grease, oils, and other hardened fluids lining the walls of the pipe.

Even if you have a garbage disposal, it is good practice to avoid dumping coffee grounds and eggshells down the drain.  These are notorious for adhering to pipe walls and forming clogs.

Finally, your toilets were designed to flush human waste and moderate amounts of toilet paper.  Don’t use them to dispose of cat litter, feminine personal products, contraceptives, or diapers.  All of these items can cause an expensive and messy clog.

Is Your Plumber Insured?

Whenever you need to find a good, reputable plumber to handle a plumbing issue at your home, you should always make sure that the plumber has adequate liability and workers compensation insurance.   Whether your plumbing problem is a small job like a clogged toilet or faucet replacement, or a big job such as a complete residential repiping or water service line repair, there is always the potential for something to go wrong and if your plumber is not insured, you could wind up on the hook for the damages.

A reputable plumber will have both workers compensation insurance and liability insurance.  If a worker is injured while working at your home, the workers compensation insurance will cover it.  If there is an accident that causes any damage to your property or your neighbor’s property, then the plumber’s liability insurance will kick in.

You may think that insurance is not really necessary because how much damage can a bad plumbing job do.  You would be surprised.  Suppose your plumber is installing a new water service line and accidently cuts through the electrical wires serving your neighborhood.  Or suppose a leak in your new water service line goes unnoticed until it erodes the neighbor’s foundation.

Both of these scenarios seem unlikely, but they have happened before and if it happened to you, you would be liable unless your plumber has the appropriate insurance.  Your homeowners insurance policy might cover some of the damages, but you would have to pay the deductible and deal with the hassle of the claim filing process.

Don’t take unnecessary risks.  Make sure your plumber has adequate insurance before they start work and avoid any liability issues that might arise.

Telephone Quotes

When you have a plumbing issue, you are concerned about getting the problem fixed, how long it will take, and how much it will cost.  When calling the plumber, you want them to tell you “Sure we can fix it, we can do it today, and it will cost X amount of dollars.”

It’s great to find a plumber who is confident that they can handle the job and that can start on it immediately, but be wary of any plumbing company that gives you an exact quote for any job over the phone.

As much as you would like to comparison shop and know in advance how much the plumbing job will cost, no reputable plumber will guarantee a price over the telephone without having first seen the problem.

There are simply so many variables that it is impossible to tell what the job will cost without coming out to your home and taking a look at it.  For example, if the problem is a clogged drain, there is no way of knowing whether it is a simple clog in a single drain line, a clogged caused by tree roots in the sewer line, a collapses sewer line, a backed up septic system, or any other possible cause.

Even if you are able to get a quote over the phone for plumbing work, invariably what happens is that the plumber starts making excuses for increasing the price.  The plumber will claim that it was difficult to get access to your clean outs, there were two clogs instead of one, and so on.

Your best course of action is to call a reputable local plumber and ask for a quote after the plumber has come to your home and looked at the problem.

Clearing a Clogged Sink Drain

Most clogged sink drains can be cleared without calling a plumber.  However, if you are not comfortable trying to clear a clogged drain you should let an experienced plumber handle clearing the clog.

Also, if the clog does not clear after a couple good faith efforts to clear it, you need to call a plumber.  Stubborn clogs or frequent drain backups can be a sign of more serious plumbing issues.

First, never use caustic chemicals to attempt to clear a clogged drain.  These rarely work as advertised and they can damage your sinks and pipes.  Also, if you pour caustic chemicals into the standing water and the clog does not clear, you have made the job of clearing the clog ten times harder.  Now you not only have a clog, but you also have a sink and drain full of caustic chemicals.

For a clogged sink, the first place to check is the trap under the sink.  Remove the trap and see if the clog is in the trap or if can be seen in the drain line.  If so, remove the offending material, reassemble the trap and see if the water flows freely.

If the clog was not in the trap, use a plunger to force water down the drain and dislodge the clog.  Several vigorous thrusts with the plunger should do the job.

If the drain is still clogged, you can try using a plumber’s snake that you can purchase at your local home improvement store.  Remove the trap again and feed the plumbers snake down the drain line until it meets resistance.  Turn the crank to work the snake into the clog, then pull the snake out of the drain.

If the plumber’s snake does not clear the clog, it’s probably time to leave it to a professional plumber.