When it comes to proper drain cleaning methods, many homeowners think they have it down to an easy science. However, many common misconceptions have led to widespread acceptance of poor or improper drain cleaning techniques. As many plumbing service professionals will tell you, these broad misconceptions may do little to nothing to clean or improve your drains, and may actually harm drains. Here, we have outlined the five biggest things everyone gets wrong about at-home drain cleaning.
1.) Improper Techniques Can Have Adverse Effects
One common mistake many homeowners make when cleaning drains is the use of improper, and ineffective, cleaning techniques; this encompasses everything from poor plunger use to incorrect home remedies. These techniques are effective means of drain cleaning and unclogging, but only when executed correctly.
Take, for example, plunging remedies: All you have to do is seal the drain and pump quickly, so stronger air pressure can remove the clog, right? Wrong. In fact, slower plunging and continuous motion are the most effective techniques for removing drain clogs.
Additionally, sink plungers, which are much more effective than toilet plungers in dislodging clogged sink debris, are typically available at any home improvement store. These models offer a more focused air seal, which is key for effective plunging.
Employing certain home remedies in incorrect situations can also cause drain-cleaning stress for many homeowners. For instance, while boiling water remedies may help unclog a toilet, overly heated water often used in drain cleaning can melt grease and debris buildup, resulting in clogs farther along the pipe.
If you are going to try using home remedies to resolve a clog or clean a drain, make sure to consider the most effective remedies for that specific situation. If you’re unsure whether a technique will get the job done, contact an experienced plumbing professional.
2.) DIY Repairs Can Escalate Plumbing Problems
Following the previous point, improper DIY repair techniques can significantly increase problems if you don’t know what you are doing, or how to properly use effective plumbing tools.
When a homeowner considers a DIY repair or drain renovation, it’s crucial that they understand how their plumbing system works, and where they should or should not interfere with their drain system.
Often, DIY renovators will remove a plumbing trap to install new fixtures or perform repairs, and then forget to reattach the plumbing trap as soon as possible, or disregard the trap because they do not understand its purpose. These traps exist to keep harmful, toxic gases out of your home; gases which exist naturally in neighborhood sewers.
Additionally, repairing existing systems with new piping can prove troublesome if you do not understand how the materials involved in plumbing pipes work. Many homeowners do not anticipate the corrosion that can occur in systems with different types of metal such as steel and copper.
3.) Chemical Cleaners Can Do More Harm Than Good
As we have discussed previously, many homeowners make the mistake of trusting chemical drain solutions for all of their drain cleaning needs. While these cleaners can effectively remove clogs and clean inner drain walls, the potential for adverse, negative results typically makes the risks not worthwhile.
The foaming chemicals, air pressure and chemical reactions that make these solutions effective cleaners can actually harm the insides of your pipes, and pose serious health risks in some exposure cases. Plumbing professionals suggest abstaining from using chemical cleaners when possible, and alternatively suggest professional consultation for extreme clogging or debris buildup.
For less severe clogs, a simple vinegar and baking soda home solution can perform much of the same functions as chemical drain cleaners, and effectively dislodge grease concentrations.
4.) Careless Waste Disposal Can Ruin Drain Pipes
One of the most common causes of drain damage, clogging and deterioration is improper waste management, which can be easily mitigated with the right information. Plainly, many homeowners do not understand the unclear limitations of garbage disposals and plumbing lines, and rather treat sink disposals and toilets as trash cans for all sorts of biological and material waste.
This waste can easily accumulate within pipes or have adverse reactions which clog and damage pipe lines, as expandable foods like rice, bread and pasta often do. Simply put, conventional sink drains are made solely for low-viscosity liquid waste; grease, fat and oils, while liquid, can build up and solidify within pipes, causing an array of later clogs and buildup problems over time.
Other common items that people dispose of in their sinks and toilets, that can have damaging effects on their plumbing, include:
- Plastic fragments from containers, bags or packaging
- Starchy or fibrous food products
- Paper products (besides toilet paper), including paper towels
- Animal bones
- Household glass or metal products
- Chemical household solutions, particularly those containing bleach
- Shells and animal cartilage
- Thick food product skins, such as pumpkin skin
Neglecting proper waste management in this way can clog and even damage your drain pipes. If this has happened to you, and it cannot be removed through DIY efforts, we recommend you contact a professional plumbing service to assist you.
5.) Skipping Inspections Can Have Expensive Consequences
Finally, many drain clogs and damages can be avoided with regular inspections, professional or otherwise. Simply evaluating your drain pipes semi-regularly can spare you from expensive, large-scale repairs later on. A mere monthly inspection can do wonders to keep your drains and home plumbing running efficiently.
Skipping out on these regular inspections can allow grease and debris accumulation in your plumbing, which can develop into more severe damages over time. Many plumbing specialists suggest pairing monthly self-inspections with annual or semi-annual professional inspections. Plumbing experts can detect drain performance issues more accurately than untrained eyes, and offer the most effective advice on proper at-home drain cleaning and plumbing maintenance.
For a professional drain consultation and thorough drain pipe inspection, or for more information on how to clean your drains more effectively, contact the plumbing experts at Express Sewer & Drain today.
Topics: Drain Cleaning