Top 7 things that should never go down the drain
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Summertime is fast approaching and with the kids home from school and more traffic in your house during the daytime hours, your plumbing system will be seeing a lot more activity. That means a greater potential for clogged drains and sewer backups.
Clogged drains often require a plumber, but you don’t have to be a professional to keep drains clear and the water flowing freely. Oftentimes, clogged drains are the result of items being sent down the pipes that should have been placed in the trash can instead. Properly maintaining your plumbing system will extend the life of your fixtures, reduce repairs and lower your utility costs.
Here are the Top 7 things that should never go down the drain:
1. Coffee Grounds
Most plumbers agree that coffee grounds are one of the worst offenders when it comes to blocking drains. That’s because coffee grounds don’t break down in water, rather they tend to clump together and block the flow of water. Before rinsing and washing coffee cups and mugs, dispose of any loose grounds in the garbage.
2. Food Waste
Egg shells, potato peels and other food waste are all items that homeowners commonly throw into their garbage disposals. An efficient system will grind these items up, but they still can cause clogs. One food item that seems small and harmless is rice. But dry or cooked grains swell when they run down kitchen drains and mix with water. The best practice is to place food waste in the garbage can or into a compost pile.
3. Grease, Fat and Oil
Grease, fat and cooking oil thicken over time and when they are exposed to cold temperatures. Now think about them running down and clinging to the sides of your pipes, solidifying and creating a trap for other waste. Not only will grease, fat and cooking oil damage your plumbing, it can affect public water systems and drinking water, too.
4. Produce Stickers
Those little stickers that come on your produce may be small, but they can cause big plumbing problems. These plastic and adhesive stickers are rarely water soluble and can become lodged in your system. They fall off easily in the sink so pay special attention and try to remove them before you begin washing produce.
5. Paper Products
Toilet paper is specifically designed to be flushed but other paper products like tissues, paper towels, cotton balls and sanitary items will not disintegrate like toilet paper. Neither will wet wipes, even if they are labeled as “flushable.”
While a wet wipe will disappear with a flush, no problem, they tend to congregate at turns within the plumbing system. Over time, they’re in a clump inside the system and eventually completely block the sewer. The ‘No Wipes’ rule also applies to products such as Lysol and Clorox wipes.
6. Hair and Dental Floss
While it’s not possible to keep all hair from going down the drain, never clean a hair brush over the sink or toilet and send clumps of hair down the drain. Hair and dental floss both tend to stick to the sides of drains causing build-up and clogs over time.
It might seem like common knowledge that large items such as diapers should not be flushed, but they often are the cause of plumbing problems. When diapers get stuck there’s no way to get them unstuck with a plunger.
So, what should you do if your drains become clogged? One thing you should not do is use a liquid drain cleaner. Many of these cleaners are corrosive and can destroy pipes. If you need your pipes cleaned, call a professional. We can get rid of the mess without ruining your plumbing system in the process.
About the Author
Nick Davis is co-owner of Spartanburg-based Davis Services, Inc. He grew up in the company, learning the business through jobs in installation, maintenance, home performance and residential sales of conventional and geothermal systems. Nick serves as the company’s marketing director and coordinator of Davis Services’ apprenticeship program.