Drainage and sewer systems are the last things most homeowners want to spend any significant time thinking about, but they shouldn’t just simply be ignored until a major problem arises. Neglected drains and sewer lines will eventually develop problems, but if you stay on top of regular maintenance and keep an eye out for warning signs that problems may be developing, you can save yourself a lot of money and stress in the long run.
The Root of the Problem
When we’re called to homes with slow drains or pools of water forming in the yard, we find that trees and shrub roots infiltrating the drainage and sewer pipes are among the most common culprits. This can be due to any number of issues from poor planning by the landscapers to a lack of oversight by previous owners.
Do your part to minimize damage by keeping a close eye on your trees and shrubs. Trim back and remove trees or plants that grow too quickly and if you notice a new shoot popping up somewhere it’s not supposed to be, pull it immediately, before a root system develops. If you’re concerned about your pipes and the tree and shrub roots nearby, schedule a video inspection to check the integrity of your pipes and make sure they are clear.
Avoiding Clogged Drains
The single biggest issue that leads to clogged drains is putting things down them that don’t belong there. The obvious solution to this problem is to simply avoid putting foreign objects down the drain when you know you shouldn’t.
In your bathroom, avoid using anything not designed to be flushed. Paper towels, tissues, and hygiene products are not supposed to be flushed down the toilet. Most items that can be flushed will say so on the packaging.
Bathroom sinks and bath tubs should have traps installed to capture hair before it goes down the drain. Hair and soap buildup in the drain can lead to clogs very quickly, which are often located deep in the trap or even further down, making it hard to clear them out.
In the kitchen, consider installing a garbage disposal to break up food scraps before they are flushed down the drain, but never put grease down the drain. Kitchen grease cools and sticks to the sides of pipes where it catches other bits of debris. It doesn’t always build up in the house either – it can get into your main sewer line and cause a clog there just as easily as in your sink trap.
Avoid Drain Chemicals
The seemingly easiest way to remove excess waste from your pipes is to pour drain cleaner in and let it break apart clogs. But, drain cleaner is not a good choice for many reasons. First, it is a noxious chemical. If you have pets or children, it can be incredibly dangerous just to have in the house, much less emitting fumes after having been poured down your drains.
Second, many drain cleaners can eat away at the lining of your pipes. It might remove the clog, but if used repeatedly, they can slowly break down the lining of the pipe and create leaks or corrosion that will lead to the need for repairs in the near future. Keep in mind that most plumbers don’t use chemicals either.