How Often Should You Clean the Drains in Your Home?

Drains handle a great deal of water and debris each day, including grease, soap scum, food particles, hair, and more. The bathroom sink, sinks in the kitchen and utility rooms, toilets, or the shower could start to drain slowly, which is often the sign of a clog. If you aren’t regularly cleaning and caring for your drains weekly, monthly, and yearly, you run the risk of major clogs and damage to the plumbing system

Clogged drains are one issue you never want to put off dealing with, as the problem can grow more serious with every passing week. Thomas & Galbraith answers the common question of “How often should I clean my drains?”, shares how to care for and clean your drains, and how to know when to call professional for service cleaning out clogged pipes

Should You Clean Drains Weekly, Monthly, or Yearly? 

Professional drain cleaning is a plumbing service performed by a licensed plumber. A plumber is able to use advanced cleaning tools and techniques to remove grease and debris that have built up inside your drain lines to remove and prevent obstructions. This professional plumbing service is recommended once per year as maintenance for the home’s drain pipes. Be sure to call and schedule this service with your plumber annually, even if you aren’t currently experiencing slow drainage. 

In addition to cleaning from a pro once per year, keep your drains clean with a weekly and monthly maintenance routine. This maintenance will greatly limit the risk of blockages and damage to plumbing drain pipes throughout your house, as well as buried sewer lines outdoors. 

Additionally, drain cleaning is appropriate any time you notice a drain moving slowly in your home. This problem can affect a sink, shower, or toilet and should be addressed as soon as the symptom is discovered. When poor drainage is ignored, a minor clog can quickly grow in size to fully obstruct the pipe and back up the drain. 

The Right Ways to Clean Your Drains

Whether you’re performing weekly or monthly maintenance, or have a sluggish drain on your hands, you need to know the right cleaning methods that will protect your drain pipes and prevent additional damage. 

Safe Ways to Clean Drains

  • Plunge the drain with an appropriate plunger, which adds pressure within the pipes to move blockages along their path. A cup or sink plunger is appropriate for a sink or shower drain that sits flat, while a flanged or toilet plunger should be inserted into the toilet drain opening. 

  • An auger or plumber snake allows you to reach down into the drain and break through a blockage. Smaller pieces can be flushed through the pipes or the auger can remove larger debris through the drain opening. 

  • Rinse drains with hot water. When you hold a pot of boiling water a few feet above the fixture and pour the hot water down into the drain, gravity, and heat can help bust through debris and move the blockage along. 

  • Baking soda and vinegar are both safe substances that can be inserted into drains to assist with cleanings. 

Do Not Use 

Even though they are advertised as safe solutions, drain cleaning chemicals should always be avoided. Here are a few of the key reasons you want to avoid them: 

  • Chemical cleaners can corrode pipes, causing damage and the need for replacement over time. 

  • Septic systems are harmed by these chemicals, as they affect the bacteria needed to break down waste in the tank. 

  • Toxins in chemical cleaners are harmful to the environment as they contaminate the water supplies and habitats of wildlife. Packaging ends up in landfills causing additional pollution. 

  • Chemical cleaning products for drains aren’t suitable for removing all types of clogs from your drain line. 

How to Maintain Home Drains

There are certain tasks you need to perform on a regular basis to maintain your drains and keep them moving. Each week or monthly, the following activities will help you keep drains clean and avoid a serious clog. 

  • Follow correct garbage disposal use practices. Never put grease or improper food debris down the drain of your kitchen sink. Run cold water as you use the garbage disposal, not hot water. Leave water running several seconds after stopping the garbage disposal to fully rinse the drain. Each week, be sure to turn on the garbage disposal and run cold water through it at least once. 

  • Affix strainers to drains in order to catch large debris like hair, pieces of soap, and other matter so these things stay out of the drain line. 

  • Once a week, sprinkle kitchen sink drains with baking soda to avoid any odor issues from dirty sinks. 

  • Rinse drains in the bathroom and kitchen on a regular basis. Pour boiling water into the drain from the height of about three feet and let it run through. 

  • Add a cup of vinegar and a cup of baking soda to each drain monthly. Let it sit for about 30 minutes then pour hot water into the drain to rinse it. 

When to Call for Professional Drain Cleaning Service

While it can be easy to clean hair clogs up around a drain opening, not every clog will resolve without a lot of effort. In some situations, you may need to search for and call a plumbing company. Schedule an appointment to have them clean your drains or perform other related plumbing services as needed. Here’s how to know when it’s time to make that call: 

  • Drains that repeatedly clog need the attention of a pro, as the issue is likely related to a cause that isn’t fixed simply by removing the clog over and over again. 

  • If you have water backing up in one drain when another is in use like the bathroom sink backs up when the toilet flushes, there’s air in the lines and drains need to be cleaned. 

  • When none of the drains across your house are draining correctly, this indicates an issue in the sewer main pipes leading from your house to the shared sewer or private septic tank. You’ll need plumbing service to address clogs or damage here. 

  • If you have sewage seeping up through the drain openings, this is an emergency situation – call and schedule plumbing service as soon as possible. Sewage exposure can be dangerous to your household. Repairs are likely needed in addition to cleanings. 

  • Pools of water on the ground’s surface are often caused by clogs and damage in buried drain lines. Plumbing service is needed to tackle these categories of clogs. 

Clean Your Drains Regularly with Thomas & Galbraith

Thomas & Galbraith helps Cincinnati area homeowners keep drainage lines throughout the house cleaned and in good working condition. Whether you have an emergency situation or simply need to schedule a routine cleaning to maintain your drains, search no further – contact us today! 

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