1. My sink/toilet is not draining
This means you have a clog somewhere in the drain pipes. The clog can be anything from a large wad of hair, toilet paper, or foreign objects like cell phones or children’s toys (yes, it happens).
Even if nothing large has been dropped down your system recently, pipes are prone to developing build ups over years of use. Fixing the clog really depends on what the clog is and where it is in the drain.
Many times, if the drain is clogged with hair, a simple drain snake can be enough to clear the problem. Grease can also build-up in your drain pipes.
For kitchen plumbing, grease is a pretty common culprit. A lot of people find that a baking soda/vinegar solution does the trick to move the grease on. Some also say that pouring boiling water down the drain will clear out a grease clog.
But there are other, more severe, problems that require the help of a licensed plumber.
Sometimes tree roots can grow their way into pipes, causing both clogs and leaks. This is a big problem because tree roots can do a lot of damage to your home’s entire plumbing system. Repairs for this will require a professional plumber and ground excavation to clear away the roots and replace the damaged pipes.
Other foreign objects might be jammed in the pipe enough that a plumber needs to come out to take the pipes apart to clear out the cause of the clog.
Try to avoid drain-cleaning chemicals that you can buy at your local hardware store if you are routinely facing pesky clogs. While these chemicals are fine for the occassional clog, over time they can also corrode the pipes, causing small holes and cracks to develop. Fixing this will require complete pipe replacement.
2. Sink/toilet is draining slow
Slow draining means a clog is developing somewhere in the drain pipes. Taking care of a slow drain early on can avoid bigger problems down the road.
But sometimes an object gets lodged in the drain pipe and only partially obstructs the pipe. If it’s an object like a toy, cell phone (seriously, this happens a lot if you have kids - they love flushing things down the toilet) or anything else that’s not supposed to be down there, you might need to take the pipe apart to get it out because a drain snake won’t be able to grab the heavier objects.
3. Unpleasant odors coming from fixture
This problem is most common in kitchen plumbing. Foul smelling odors coming from your drain is another sign that your drains and pipes need a good cleaning. For example, the kitchen sink drain might have a build-up of food particles, which can cause it to stink.
It helps to make sure the garbage disposal is functioning properly. The garbage disposal should be grinding up food and sending the scraps on their way. But if your garbage disposal is working fine, you might have something partially obstructing the drain, causing food particles to get stuck.
Another, more unpleasant, cause of foul odors coming from your drain is that a small animal managed to get into a pipe and died. Finding out where the dead animal is will take some detective work, usually the best option is to have a plumbing camera inspection diagnosis performed. A plumber may be required to replace the portion of the pipe. Keep in mind that a dead animal can carry diseases and dangerous bacteria, so a thorough cleaning of the drain pipes will be needed.
Prevention Is The Best Cure
Keeping your drains clean in the first place is always much easier than having to deal with a clog. You can keep your drains clean by:
- Using a drain screen to prevent hair from collecting in the pipe. You can pick these up for very cheap. They work wonders, for such a simple device, at keeping your pipes clean.
- Ensure your garbage disposal is working properly. Watch for strange sounds or a change in the tone of the hum.
- Avoid pouring any kind of grease down the drain. The best way to dispose of grease is to let it cool and then wipe it out with a paper towel and throw it in the trash, or poured into a disposable bottle.
Just those simple steps will keep your drains clean and save you time and money in the long run.