The Ins and Outs of Drain Cleaning

The Ins and Outs of Drain Cleaning

  • Plumbing
drain cleaning

Homeowners often take their plumbing for granted until something happens that needs immediate attention. A kitchen sink stops running or a toilet overflows and then the plumbing becomes a high priority. With a little preventative maintenance, homeowners would never need to deal with plumbing emergencies. Here is how you can make sure their drains are always working properly.

The Nightmare of Clogged Drains

By not spending some time to maintain the drainage system in the home, a person opens themselves up to several unfortunate realities. When any problems in the drains occur, a homeowner can experience:

  • an increase in utility bills
  • plumbing fixtures that wear out sooner
  • decreasing levels of sanitation in the house
  • unpleasant odors and strange sounds from the drains

All of this increases the stress of being a homeowner. This can be prevented with a little DIY home plumbing maintenance.

Benefits to Proactive Drain Cleaning Maintenance

For a small investment of time and effort on their drains, the homeowner gains much throughout the year. The benefits include:

  • utility bills are lower
  • longer lasting plumbing fixtures
  • less spent on plumbing fixture repairs
  • reduced risk of overflowing toilets and clogged sinks
  • more comfortable and sanitary living space

This is especially important in large households where several people may contribute to the drains becoming clogged. The more people living in the house, the higher the risk of a drain problem if regular maintenance is not performed.

Plumbing Maintenance for the Homeowner

There are a number of ways that a homeowner can ensure that their drains are in proper working order. None of these take much time and are easy for any person to do. The first step is maintaining the drains to prevent them from stopping up. Next, one should be ready in case a clog does develop so they can react quickly to clear the drain.

Drain Cleaning Preventative Maintenance Steps

These actions will help to prevent clogs from happening:

  • Pour a mixture of baking soda and vinegar down the drain. Let it set for several minutes and then flush thoroughly with warm tap water.
  • Pour boiling water from a pan or tea kettle down the drain to clear out any sticky grease that has adhered to the inside of the plumbing pipes.
  • Purchase small strainers that fit in the drains to catch items before they get down into the plumbing.
  • Keep a container near the stove to pour used oil and grease into. Never pour these down a drain.

In case a drain blockage happens, the homeowner should have on hand:

  • A standard plunger for flat drains, such as in the kitchen sink.
  • A flange plunger for curved drains, such as in the toilet.
  • A bucket and several old rags for cleanup.

Typical Drain Clogs

If a clog should occur, a homeowner can try to clear it out themselves. Their success depends on the type of clog they encounter. There are two clogs a homeowner is likely to face:

Soft clog – This is made up of hair and skin cells and is usually found in bathroom sinks, tub and shower drains. The clog stays soft and rarely compacts in the drain. These are normally easy to remove.

Hard clog – This is caused by grease and foods sticking to the sides of the drain pipe. Once the clog accumulates enough material to completely block the drain, it will continue to compact itself in the drain and become a hard mass. The longer a hard clog sits, the hard it is to remove.

Removing a Soft Clog

These clogs can often be removed by the homeowner.

  • Use a standard plunger to pull the clog up out of the sink or to push it on through the drain pipe.
  • Use a long, stiff brush made to fit down into the drain, snag the clog material and pull it back up and out.
  • Use a plastic strip with serrated edges, made to remove clogs, by being inserted into the drain and pulling out the material.
  • If the homeowner is not intimidated by plumbing work, they can disconnect the P-trap below the bathroom sink and remove the clog lodged there.

Removing a Hard Clog

If here is standing water, use a wet and dry vacuum to remove all of the water before attempting to unclog the drain.

  • Try using a standard plunger briefly to release a fresh clog. Do not do this for too long or too forcefully as it can damage the plumbing pipes and make them come apart.
  • Pour dish detergent down a clogged toilet to loosen up a blockage there.
  • Use a plumbing snake to break up the clog and clear the drain. These should be used carefully as they can puncture a hole in the side of old, rusty plumbing pipes or cause drain pipes to come apart where two are joined.

Drain Cleaning Techniques to Avoid

Chemical drain cleaners – These are very dangerous to work with and can damage a person’s skin and eyes should they splash onto them.

Water balloons – These devices fit onto the end of a garden hose and are slipped down into the drain. When the water is turned on, it expands the balloon, sealing it against the sides of the drain pipe. Water is then forced down into the drain to try to loosen the clog. These devices can easily break plumbing fixtures or cause them to come apart.

Many household drain clogs can be dealt with by the homeowner. If they prove resistant to several attempts, a professional drain cleaning service should be considered. They can remove any clog without damaging the existing plumbing.

Call MillTown today and schedule your service checkup to see if you need AC repair or replacement!

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By Milltown Plumbing

10 Warning Signs Your Drains or Sewers Need to Be Serviced

10 Warning Signs Your Drains or Sewers Need to Be Serviced

  • Plumbing
drain and sewer service

Maintaining the health of your sewers and drains is important because it eliminates foul odors and prevents water overflow issues, as well as prevents expensive home repairs and health problems. Read on to discover our 10 warning signs that your home needs drain and sewer service.

1.Multiple Clogged Fixtures

Multiple clogged fixtures are the most common sign of drain and sewer problems. Fixtures that frequently pose a threat include bathtubs, toilets, and showers. These clogs are caused by a buildup of debris, such as hair, excess paper, and non-flushable items.

2. Slowly Draining Fixtures

Common causes of slowly draining fixtures are soap scum build up and an accumulation of hair and other debris, including foreign objects.

3. Wet Spots on Landscapes

Wet spots on landscapes are eyesores, and they kill your home’s curb appeal. Wet spots are puddles of standing water that make your lawn look like it is flooded in different places. Standing water not only attracts mosquitos and suffices as a perfect breeding ground, but it also causes your grass and plants to become over-hydrated.

4. Unpleasant Odors

Unpleasant drain odors derive from venting problems, dry p-trap, and sewer line issues. Unpleasant odors that come from the drain due to sewer problems are an indication that there is a block or a break within the sewer line.

5. Gurgling Noises

Gurgling noises in your drains are the result of grease and dirt buildup. Due to this buildup, air bubbles cannot flow freely through the pipes. This causes water to drain slowly and creates a gurgling noise.

6. Frequent Drain Clogs

Kitchen sinks clog more than any other drain in the home. Common causes of frequent drain clogs include food, grease, hair, and small objects. Items that should not be placed down the kitchen drain include paper towels, egg shells, coffee grinds, produce stickers, and corrosive substances.

7. Overflowing Toilets

Overflowing toilets are more common than many people think, especially in a home with three or more people living there. Toilets overflow because of a blockage within the pipes.

8. Leaking Pipes

The different causes of leaking pipes include strong pressure within the pipes, the amount of oxygen in the water, and the water’s pH. An abundance of oxygen in water causes pipes to corrode rapidly. An imbalance in water’s pH causes pipes to rust and deteriorate.

9. Water Damage

Broken and leaking pipes are the common cause of water damage. Other causes of water damage include sewer backup, overflowing bathtubs, and broken toilets.

10. Expensive Household Bills

Water and sewer bill expenses are based upon consumption. When you have leaking pipes and other sewer and plumbing problems, your sewer or water bill can skyrocket. Some leaks in the home are easier to locate than others. Bathroom leaks are easier to find than kitchen leaks because kitchen sinks have more complex piping systems.

Situations That Occur When Sewer and Drain Issues Are Ignored

When sewer and drain issues are left unattended, they can increase or be compounded with other problems. Homeowners suffer a great deal of discomfort, inconvenience, and expense when their services have to be interrupted or when they are unable to use their plumbing fixtures. Homeowners put themselves at higher risk for additional pipe leaks, malfunctions, and even more expense. The most devastating problem when sewer and drain issues are ignored is sanitation. Flooded toilets and sinks are the perfect breeding ground for germs and bacteria. With a decreased level of sanitation, you and your family are at risk for contracting and spreading diseases and developing health issues.

The Benefits of  Drain and Sewer Service Issues In a Timely Manner

Handling issues with your sewer and drain as soon as problems arise has many advantages, including improved longevity of plumbing fixtures and reduced risk of water damage. Plumbing fixtures that are maintained properly will save money because you will not have to frequently replace the fixtures. Sewers and drains that work properly have a reduced chance of experiencing leaks, which reduces the risk of water damage. The level of sanitation is improved because germs and bacteria will stay where they belong. To add an extra layer of protection from germs and to control the amount of bacteria, you can routinely pour bleach down your drains and use it when you clean your toilet. Peace of mind is a benefit that cannot be compared to any other benefit. You do not have to stress yourself worrying about the health of your family and the condition of your home. You can sleep peacefully knowing your sewer and drains are functioning correctly. The misery of spreading germs and bacteria, household damage, and expensive repairs is a thing of the past.

Do not ignore what appear to be simple sewer and drain issues. What seems minimal at the time could be progressing into a major problem.

If you need drain and sewer service, call MillTown today and avoid back-ups in your home!

By Milltown Plumbing

7 Common Signs That You Need a Holiday Drain Cleaning

7 Common Signs That You Need a Holiday Drain Cleaning

  • Plumbing

Clogged drains can be a frustrating nuisance, but having a dirty drain during the holidays could mean bursting pipes in your home. The winter season already puts enough strain on your plumbing, freezing your pipes and wearing down your water heater. No homeowner wants a home flooded from a burst pipe, which is why it’s important to keep your drains clear this holiday season. Here’s our list of signs to watch for that you need a holiday drain cleaning.

When You Should Clean Your Drains

Plumbing problems can be frustrating, and a dirty drain can disrupt your daily activities. It might be tempting to overlook one clogged drain, but a clog left untreated can result in costly damages. Your plumbing is complicated, but you can avoid most plumbing catastrophes by thoroughly cleaning your drains and routine maintenance. The more you clean your drains, the better, as it never hurts to be proactive with your plumbing. Clogs however, can happen despite how often you clean your drains, which is why it’s important to know the warning signs of a dirty drain. To avoid holiday drain cleaning, here’s what to watch for:

  • Water starts to back up. When using the faucet, bathtub, or shower, the water should always drain. Water should never go up your drains, but if you notice after flushing a toilet or running the faucet that water starts to back up versus drain down, it could be a clogged drain.
  • Foul odors. One of the most unpleasant warning signs of a clogged drain is the foul odor of sewage. A drain that’s clogged accumulates all the waste that’s flushed down the drains until the odors come back out the drains. Kitchens with garbage disposal can also be notorious for foul sewage odors, especially when enough food particles build up inside your drains.
  • Odd sounds. Listen carefully to your drains. When a drain is blocked, water is then forced through small spaces or to change course which can result in bubbling or gurgling sounds. If you start to hear odd gurgling sounds from your drain, it’s time to clean your drains. 
  • Frequent clogs. Clogs can be a common plumbing problem, but if they happen often enough, it could be caused from a clogged drain. Some clogs can be resolved with a plunger or drain cleaner, but if you notice the same fixture keeps clogging regardless, you’ll need a plumber to professionally clean your drains.
  • Multiple clogs at the same time. Not all clogs require calling in a plumber, but multiple clogs at once is problematic. If you notice multiple different fixtures have clogged all at once, it means there is a clog deeper inside your sewer line and requires a professional drain cleaning.
  • Slow drains. A slow drain is one of the most common signs of a clogged drain, as no water fixture should have a slow drain. Watch your sinks and water appliances. If you notice it takes more time than usual to drain the sink or your washer or dishwasher is still full after the cycle, it’s time to clean your drains.
  • Fruit or drain flies. Any buildup of food or waste inside your drains will attract flies. Tiny fruit flies are more than just an annoying pest; they can become a health risk, and are usually attracted to the scent of a clogged drain. Drains flies are another pest to watch out for, as they like to breed in drains and sewer lines. If your home has some clogged drains, you might start to notice drain flies buzzing in your bathroom.

How to Clean Your Drains and Keep Them Clogged Free

Knowing when to clean your drains is a good place to start, but it’s best to start habits that keep your drains clean and prevent future clogs. A clogged drain left untreated can result in costly plumbing problems, but luckily they can be avoided with proper care and cleaning practices. Here’s what you can do to keep your drains clean this holiday season.

  • Avoid chemical drain cleaners. Although chemical drain cleaners can be an easy and instant fix for some clogs, they’re incredibly toxic and eat at your pipes over time. There are several non-toxic drain cleaners available such as vinegar and baking soda, which work naturally well to eliminate odors and flush down any stuck waste.
  • Avoid flushing down food waste. Garbage disposals are great if you have them, but contrary to what you might think, it’s to flush down as little food waste as possible. Most foods will clog your drains and break down the blades. Kitchen sinks without a garbage disposal are even less equipped to handle any food waste that goes down the drain. Do your best to avoid flushing food down by scraping and rinsing your plates. Avoid flushing down fats, greases, and oils, as well as starchy foods.
  • Use drain strainers. It’s not just food waste that clogs your drains, but hair, soap scum, and other random debris, which is why it helps to place drain strainers on top of your drains. Make sure to periodically clean out your drain strainers so that your drains can drain properly.

Keep Your Holidays Fun and Festive with Clean Drains

A clog can be a frustrating, if not common plumbing problem, but the winter season adds the additional threat of your pipes freezing. No homeowner wants a flooded home in the dead of winter, that’s why it’s important to keep your drains clean and clear this holiday season. Not all clogs, however, can be cleaned yourself, and that’s where the professionals come in. MillTown can treat your drains and guarantee your holidays stay dry and happy. Don’t wait until you smell sewage, call MillTown Plumbing today for holiday drain cleaning!

By Milltown Plumbing