All Clogged Up: Don’t Let Clogged Drains and Drain Maintenance Slide

clogged drainsHow many times have you said “I’ll fix it this weekend?” If you’re like us, well, it’s more often than you may care to admit. We’ve all done it—it’s just human nature. We bite off more than we can chew, or the weekend comes around and the last thing we want to do is work some more after a long week!

Don’t Let It Slide

When we let things go, sometimes we get used to things we really shouldn’t. I once stayed the weekend at a friend’s house and they told me their shower drain was draining slowly. When I went to use the shower it backed up and almost overflowed the edge of the shower onto the bathroom floor—and it wasn’t just water that came back up the drain! The smell was awful and heaven knows what all was down there. I told my friend that I was going to fix it, not next weekend but right now. Ten minutes later and it worked good as new. He’d been putting it off because he didn’t know how to do it himself, and was worried something was seriously wrong with his plumbing. When I told him how much a professional would charge to clear that drain, he was floored—in a good way! He had no idea that drain clearing could be as cost effective as it really is, and that’s not uncommon. Most people think about calling a plumber and cringe, but many situations don’t call for hours of labor and massive bills—quite the opposite, in fact, especially when it comes to de-clogging a drain.

The Secret Life of Drains

Drains are meant to do one thing, and one thing only: carry away water. In an ideal world nothing would ever go down a drain but water and more water. Of course, we don’t live in an ideal world and nobody knows that better than plumbers. Drains are meant for water, sure, but are designed so that if dirt, hair, or anything else gets down there, it won’t clog. This goes double for any sort of wastewater drain—your toilet, dishwasher, and kitchen sink (especially if it has a garbage disposal).[1.]

That doesn’t mean clogs don’t happen. In fact, they’re pretty common. Let’s say you’re cooking, and a bit of mushroom goes down your drain. Well, it’s gone, so out of sight out of mind right? But in many cases that mushroom doesn’t get flushed down the drain correctly, and instead sits in the p-trap of your kitchen sink. Over time, more food and other stuff will glom onto the mushroom. The ball of stuff gets bigger and bigger over time—and you’re not even thinking about it. But when it gets big enough to clog the drain, you will be—and the smart thing to do is call a plumber.

How Drain Problems Get Fixed

The good news is that with most slow-draining or clogged drains, the clog just needs to be manually removed. We use metal “snakes” and grabbers of various sizes to do this, either breaking the clog up and moving it all the way into the disposal pipe (which is large diameter and very hard to clog) or removing it by pulling the p-trap. You may be tempted to pour some liquid de-clogging agent (like Drano) down a clogged drain, but you should resist the temptation. These powerful chemicals don’t work very well and often fail to fully remove the clog. In addition, it can be bad for your pipes, as well as your own health if you inhale the fumes. With the right knowledge and tools, a professional plumber will have that drain de-clogged better than any liquid agent: sometimes the old-fashioned way really is the right way to do things.

Once in awhile we encounter a drain problem that’s more than just a clog. We’ve seen pipes get deviated or broken by roots, or clogged by something caught way down in the pipe, and we have to do more extensive drain clearing and repair. These sorts of operations require special equipment and knowledge of plumbing systems, and can take much longer. While less common than other clogs, these things do happen and they present the same symptoms as a regular clog. The only way to know for sure what’s wrong with your drain is to call a plumber. If your drains are clogged we hope you’ll think of us—Bell Brothers has a great deal on basic drain clogs, and we won’t charge you anything to diagnose your issue. If the problem is more complicated than a basic clog we’ll take a look at it and give you an estimate free of charge, and then work with you to come up with a plan of attack. We don’t anticipate that, though–most clogs are cheap to fix and simple to diagnose. Just give Bell Brothers a call!