Plumbing Woes

Plumbing Woes

You wash your hands and look at the bottom of the sink to see the water isn't draining.  Sound like something that you've dealt with recently?  Don't worry.  You aren't the only one dealing with plumbing woes. Better yet, there are a few steps that you can take to protect the plumbing in your home.

Have a clogged garbage disposal?  Garbage disposals are meant to grind up your food waste, making it easier, and safer, to rinse down the drain.  But, doing any of these can lead to clogs:

Sending grease down the drain – You should NEVER pour grease down your drain, even if you have a disposal.  Grease clings to the walls of your pipes and can eventually lead to a clog.

Grinding Fibrous Foods – The silk on that delicious ear of corn is not just irritating to pick off, it can cause damage to your garbage disposal.  Those silky fibrous strands, and other fibers from celery, asparagus, and other fruits and veggies, can clog drains like hair.  Skip the headache and throw these items in the trash or compost.

Not running cold water -  Cold water helps to solidify fats in food scraps, which will help stop them from sticking to the walls of your pipes.

Do you use any of those common chemical drain cleaners found at your local supermarket or home improvement store?  While those cleaners are an okay answer to clearing out clogs occasionally, using them repeatedly has the potential to damage your home's plumbing, leading to leaks.  Dealing with a perpetually slow drain?  The clog is most likely further down in your sewer system and should be addressed by a professional.

If your plumbing is made up of PVC pipes, avoid using drain cleaners if your drain is completely blocked.  You should plunge a completely clogged drain and then follow up with a drain cleaner once the drain is flowing again.  The reason?  If the chemical cleaner sits in the pipe for too long, it can soften and damage the PVC.

What about the toilet?  If you are flushing anything other than human waste, urine or toilet paper, you may be slowly contributing to clogging your main sewer line.  Those 'flushable' wipes?  They tend to get caught on any roots that may be growing into the main sewer line, eventually leading to a complete blockage.  Women, what about those feminine hygiene products?  They should not be flushed since they get caught in sewer lines and don't break down in a timely manner, just like those wipes we were just talking about.  But what about toilet paper?  Can't that get stuck?  The answer is yes.  But, unlike wipes and feminine hygiene products, toilet paper breaks down and washes away within minutes.

So, how does all of the plumbing in your home actually work?  All of the water that flows down your home's drains and all of the waste that gets flushed down the toilet travels from your home out to the public sewer via your main sewer line. If this line clogs, you may end up with sewage backups throughout your home. And guess what!  Your landscaping and yard care habits could cause more damage.  Here are a few things you should keep in mind when working in the yard:

Planting Trees Near the Line – Want to add new trees to your landscape?  It's important not to plant them anywhere near the main sewer line. Otherwise, their roots may grow into the line and contribute to a clog.

Parking or Driving Over the Line - The pressure of a car over the top of your sewer line may compress and narrow the pipe. Locate your main sewer line on your home's blueprints, and then avoid parking or driving anything heavier than a lawn tractor in this area.

If you've been unknowingly engaging in some of these behaviors over the years, it's a good idea to have your drains and sewer lines inspected by a professional, like those at Vines Plumbing, and cleared before you end up with a major catastrophe like a clog or leak. Then, take steps to break any bad habits before your plumbing system pays the price.