Quick and Easy Ways to Prevent Drain Clogging

Tired of your drains clogging? The truth is, you can prevent drain clogging easily with some help from the professionals. Here are some easy ways to prevent drain clogging in your sinks and showers.

Drain Cleaning

If your drains are currently having problems draining, the first step is cleaning them out. Cleaning your drains out will give you a fresh start to prevent drain clogging from.

For sinks, drain cleaning is actually quite simple and can be done as a DIY project, if you’re comfortable removing a pipe from under your sink. If your tub drain is giving you problems, you don’t want to DIY your sink drain, or DIY hasn’t solved the problem, it’s time to get some help from your local drain cleaning professionals.

POM Plumbing can have your drains back in working order in no time. With some help from our power washer or a snake, we can unblock any drain in your home and have it draining like new.

Soap and Water

Once your drains are back to their fully functional selves, there is one simple rule for keeping them clog free: never put anything down them but soap and water. It may sound obvious, but it’s easy to forget or shrug off this simple rule – especially in the kitchen.

When we say soap and water only, we mean it! There are a lot of things that slip down our drains without us realizing, just for lack of attention. For example, grease from cooking is a huge cause for clogs. If you cook something with a lot of grease, like bacon, let the grease harden in the pan and then scrape it out with a paper towel before washing it in the sink.

The same goes for things like rice, flower mixtures, and other tiny remnants of food. If you want to keep your drain from clogging, wipe all of these things out into the trash before washing your dishes. 

Clog Prevention

Soap and water is easy to agree to in your head, but in practice, it’s a bit harder than just keeping the food in the trash. This is especially true in the bathroom. After all, how are you going to avoid hair going down the drain? The answer is simple: you need some clog prevention methods in place as well. Spend a few dollars on a drain trap to keep hair, lint, and other foreign things from entering your tub drain. By dumping the trap out in the trashcan each time it gets a small clump of hair in it, you’ll keep all of that from building up inside the drain and prevent future clogs from appearing.

If you struggle to keep every food particle from entering your kitchen drain, like most normal people do, learning how to remove and dump out the drain pipe yourself can be a great way to maintain drain integrity. Even doing this once every 6 months or so can make a huge difference in draining abilities. If all else fails, POM Plumbing is here to help with any drain clogs that manage to happen anyway. Just give us a call and we’ll be happy to assist!

How to Clean Your Sink Drain Yourself: Part 2

If you sat through Part 1 with us, you now have all of your supplies and a loosened drain pipe in your hands. Now comes the fun part: it’s time to clean your sink drain.

Step 3: Remove Its Contents

When your sink drain pipe is loosened, you should be able to wiggle it free. It’s recommended that you keep your bucket directly under it while doing this. As you remove the pipe, some of the gunk blocking it may come free from where the pipe was attached and some water may escape where it was settled. This is why it’s wise to keep a towel under the entire site to avoid dirtying the inside of your cabinet.

With your pipe free, pull your pipe and bucket from under the sink and shake out the contents of the pipe into your bucket. It’s likely that the blockages aren’t very compacted in the pipe, and should come free fairly easily. This blockage is likely made up of mostly hair and whatever bacteria and rot has accumulated on it.

With this piece of your drain pipe emptied of its blockage, you’ll also want to check the parts it was attached to. A look up at the vertical pipe leading down from the drain might reveal some more gunk trapped there. It should be easily removed with your pointy object. We’ll assume you’ve got a cheap pipe cleaner on hand. You can use this to knock any gunk from the vertical pipe into your bucket. 

The horizontal pipe leading into the wall may also have its fair share of waste blocking it. If this blockage goes deeper than a couple inches past the edge of the pipe, you may need to employ a snake to remove it. However, this kind of blockage in a bathroom sink drain is unlikely. You should be able to bend the end of your pipe cleaner into a hook and pull out whatever is trapped there with ease.

Step 4: Clean Your Sink Drain

Next up, if you want a job well done to end in your drain feeling like new (and smelling like new too), it’s time to clean your sink drain. Set your bucket aside and use your rag to clean out the removed portion of drain pipe. You can simply push the rag through, pulling it out the other side to remove anything coating the pipe, or you can go all out and use soap and water. Whatever degree of cleaning satisfies you will do. 

Step 5: Return the Pipe

Finally, wiggle that piece of pipe back to where it sat before and start tightening those coupling nuts back on. You may need to finagle it a bit to get it in the right place. If you’re struggling to keep the threads aligned, try turning the nuts counterclockwise until they settle into the right spot, then tighten them into place.

When you’ve got the coupling nuts back in place, go ahead and turn on your faucet. Let it run for a minute and watch to make sure there’s no leaking before calling it a day.

If your sink drain didn’t have almost any blockage at all, or continues to struggle with draining after you clean your sink drain, the problem is likely further down. Give us a call today and we’ll be happy to get your sink back in working order.

How to Clean Your Sink Drain Yourself: Part 1

Tired of your sink not draining properly? Cleaning your sink drain is one piece of plumbing that is fairly good for beginners and easy to DIY. Not to mention, if you’re satisfied by the removal of gross things, it can be quite fun too. POM Plumbing is here for you, no matter how hard the plumbing project. But, we also love to see our Toronto neighbors expanding their knowledge of plumbing and getting into the thick of things themselves, when it’s safe to do so. So, we’ve put together a little guide to make it easy to clean your sink drain yourself.

Things You’ll Need

To begin, make sure you have everything you need. Here’s what we recommend:

  • A bucket. Don’t get a nice mixing bowl; this is going to get gross. You can also opt for a small, lined trash can.
  • A monkey wrench, if your drain pipe is attached with metal parts and is tightly secured.
  • Something long, like a pencil or a cheap pipe cleaner, that you won’t mind getting dirty or throwing out.
  • A rag or cloth, if you want to get things clean like new.
  • Rubber gloves, if you’re squeamish about touching gross things.

Step 1: Prepare

This may seem obvious, but make sure you keep your sink turned off. It’s easy to forget while in the middle of things and go to rinse something off your hands. After all, the sink is right there. If you’re the kind of person who might forget, mid-project, put some tape on the handles. The last thing you want is to flood the storage under your sink.

Next, remove anything stored under the sink. Some things may be pushed aside but, if you want to ensure nothing gets wet or covered in sink sludge, it’s best to remove it. You’ve got a whole bathroom floor at your disposal.

Finally, lay down a rag or hand towel that you don’t mind getting dirty beneath your drain pipe.

Step 2: Loosen Your Drain Pipe

Next up, it’s time to loosen that drain pipe. To clean your sink drain primarily means removing the drain pipe temporarily and removing all of the junk blocking it. There are chemical drain cleaners for this, but they damage your pipes and are bad for the environment. It’s best to simply empty the pipe yourself.

Your pipe should have two obvious rings around it. These are often plastic, with some ridges on the outside. As you can see, your pipe should dip down and then curve back up. These rings, called coupling nuts, should be placed, one above, and one after this dip. The piece of pipe between them is removable and these are what hold that piece in place.

Simply twist these coupling nuts counterclockwise to loosen them. If the coupling nuts on your sink are made of metal, they may be more tightly secured and may require a wrench to unscrew them.

Next Up: Clean Your Sink Drain

Ready for the really fun part of cleaning your sink drain? Continue on to Part 2 to get to the nitty gritty with us.

3 Surprising Things That Clog Your Drains

There are a lot of things that homeowners expect to go down the drain without a fuss. However, there are quite a few things that end up giving them trouble later without them realizing the connection. After all, if you dump something into your drain, why would you assume it’s related when your drain stops working over a week later? Today we want to talk about some things that clog your drains that may surprise you!

1. Grease, Oil, and Fat, Oh My!

The #1 thing that people dump down their kitchen drain only to end up with a clog is all of the above. Grease, oil, and fat from meat all love to stick around. Have you ever fried bacon only to find the grease has solidified in the pan within a few hours? When you dump things like bacon grease down your kitchen drain, it will solidify in  your pipes the same way.

While you’re not likely to get enough grease solidified in your pipes to block the entire drain, there’s more. Congealed grease isn’t just a blockage by itself, it’s a glue. Any other food particles that end up going down the drain while you wash dishes will get caught in this greasy web. After a while, half your drain pipe is being blocked off by grease and those things not lucky enough to escape its grasp.

2. Starchy Things

You might not think them a risk, but starchy things ending up down your drain can pose a huge problem. Rice, oatmeal, pasta noodles, and flour can all cause massive problems in your drainage. These things love to stick together. Have you ever gotten wet flour on your hands while baking? It’s like an organic cement. Now imagine what havoc that would wreak on your sink drain!

3. Coffee Grounds

This is one of the leading offenders in sink clogs. Coffee grounds are so small that they seem like they should simply wash right down the drain. Wrong! Coffee grounds may be small, but they’re also heavier than they look. Like sand, when put into water, 90% of the coffee grounds will sink. That means, at the first dip in your drain pipe, the grounds will get caught, settle, and clog your drains.

This is even more of a problem if you already have things like grease lining the inside of your drain pipe. Coffee grounds mixed with grease is a plumbing nightmare!

Unclog Those Drains

If you’re finding that your kitchen drain isn’t doing its job quite how it used to, you probably have an organic blockage. Give us a call at POM Plumbing and we can take care of it fast. Simply cleaning out the drains with one of our specialized pressure washers can bring your drain back to its usual speed and quality.

Why Chemical Drain Cleaner Should Be Avoided: Part 2

Don’t Miss Part 1

Making the Problem Worse

Now, taking into consideration the aggressive nature of chemical drain cleaner, why can’t it solve the bigger problem, no matter how much it’s used? Well, the truth is, some problems just aren’t meant to be fixed by dissolving drain gunk. Let’s revisit that list of problems from Part 1.

Pipe Width

If your plumbing is so old that it’s not meeting modern plumbing code, using drain cleaner is a bad solution for 2 reasons. The first is that it’s actually increasing the fragility of older pipes and is very likely to cause a burst. Pipe bursts lead to flooding, which can give you a long-term mold problem and cost thousands of dollars in repairs. The second reason is that it’s doing nothing at all to combat your pipes being too narrow to handle your water flow. 

Metallic and Hard Water

If your drain is coated on the inside with iron oxide (rust) or minerals (lime, calcium, etc.), drain cleaner may seem like a great idea. After all, it’s made to clear undesirables from drains, right? The reason drain cleaner doesn’t work for this problem is one of these two reasons:

  1. The directed wait time before rinsing is not long enough for it to eat through minerals or metal. Drain cleaner is meant to be used for weaker, organic substances, like hair, dead skin, and so on. The wait time on the bottle is not long enough to noticeably affect minerals and metal.
  2. If you let it sit for long enough to break down minerals or metal, you’re letting it sit long enough to begin destroying your pipes.

Collapsed Pipe

It goes without saying that a collapsed pipe can’t be brought back to life by being made squeaky clean. This one is going to need some professional help.

Pipe Invasion

Pipes that have cracked and been invaded by plant roots are also not going to be repaired by drain cleaner. In fact, the problem is exacerbated by it. First, the volume of drain cleaner that you use is not likely to even reach where those roots have invaded. Even if it did, it would take so long that it would soon be time to rinse it away. 

Second, if roots have invaded your plumbing, that means there are cracks in your pipes. Chemical drain cleaner that does reach the invasion site will eat away at those cracks as well, making them bigger and allowing more water to leak into the surrounding soil. Water leaking into the soil is exactly what drew the attention of nearby plants to begin with.

Chemical Drain Cleaner Isn’t Safe

Last, but certainly not least, you should not use chemical drain cleaner because it’s terribly unsafe. If you wouldn’t dump drain cleaner directly onto one of the plants outside, you shouldn’t be dumping it down your drain.

Drain cleaner is made for destroying organic compounds. Therefore, putting those chemicals into the local sewer system can lead to all kinds of problems. That’s not even to mention the kind of damage it can cause closer to home. If you have a pipe collapse or there are cracks in your pipes leading to root invasion, chemical drain cleaner will follow the water, dispersing into the ground around your home. This can kill plants, poison animals, and even contaminate ground water. 

If you care about the environment or the safety of you and your neighbors, please consider the risks before using chemical drain cleaner. Instead, call a professional and get to the root of the problem.

Why Chemical Drain Cleaner Should Be Avoided: Part 1

If your drains ever stop draining, you’re probably no stranger to chemical drain cleaner. People from all over love the idea of fixing what is usually a bigger issue by just dumping something down their drain. However, if you’ve spent any time at all looking for drain solutions online, you’ve probably also seen that you shouldn’t use the stuff. The question everyone’s asking now is, “Why?”

The Solution Is Rarely Solved

If your drain usually drains perfectly, a sudden issue is probably an easy fix. This can happen to anyone. A sudden and unexpected problem with draining is usually caused by:

  • A rodent getting stuck in the drain (yes, it happens)
  • The results of a neighborhood or local clog in the sewage main
  • An influx of hair in the drain (like when you shower after a haircut or shave your legs after a few months of ignoring them)

These kinds of things can make chemical drain cleaner seem like a life saver. Even though a plumber can fix the problem just as easily, the quickly available, DIY response of drain cleaner helps pad its reputation.

The problem is, many people then expect chemical drain cleaner to have the same quick results on a bigger plumbing issue. If you find yourself having to buy chemical drain cleaner more than once every few years on average, you aren’t experiencing a drain cleaner sized problem. You’re experiencing something that needs a plumber’s expertise. That brings us to our next point.

Short Term Solutions Are Expensive…

If the problem thats actually plaguing your plumbing system is one that requires drain cleaner every month or two, the chemical drain cleaner is kind of like putting a bandaid on a major skin infection. It’s not going to hide the problem very well and is certainly not going to make it go away.

The tiny improvement in drainage following use of the drain cleaner is a short term solution. For people with consistent draining issues, the problem isn’t usually hair in the drain. It’s more likely something like:

  • Your pipes are not wide enough to handle a modern water flow and are likely not up to modern plumbing code.
  • You have hard or metallic water that needs softening or a filter. Iron or mineral buildup along the insides of your pipes can narrow them to an inadequate diameter for your water flow. This buildup has usually been accumulating for so long, by the time it affects your drainage, that none of it is loose enough for a bit of drain cleaner to remove to a notable degree.
  • There is a collapsed pipe somewhere, likely underground, where rubble is blocking drainage.
  • There are plant roots that have grown into underground pipes and are blocking drainage.

Using chemical drain cleaner to solve these problems will usually solve a different problem. For example, there might be some hair in the drain that is contributing minimally. So, it may seem like the cleaner is doing something to fix the issue, but you’re actually just experiencing a slight uptick in performance due to a separate issue disappearing for a while. 

Because drain cleaner isn’t actually solving your problem, frequently spending money on it is a huge waste. The cost of drain cleaner will quickly surpass the cost of hiring a plumber.

… And Cause Long Term Damage

Not only does chemical drain cleaner rarely solve the larger issue, it can actually make things much worse. The chemicals in drain cleaner are extremely potent. That’s why it can dissolve things like hair and grime. It breaks it down in just a half hour, before you rinse it away. But, have you considered what else those aggressive chemicals might be doing while you wait for them to break down drain clogs?

Chemical drain cleaner is so aggressive in its attempts to remove everything it touches, that it can actually damage plumbing. Hard to believe? You may think your plumbing is immune to damage, but pipes are just as susceptible to damage as some organic compounds. If chemical drain cleaner can remove rust, which is oxidized iron, what is it doing to iron or steel pipes?

The answer is, it destroys small layers of the insides of your pipes. One use might not mean long term damage for your plumbing, but repeated use almost certainly will. Drain pipes aren’t extremely thick to begin with. They’re not made for more than water, soap, and your dead skin cells. Therefore, repeatedly dumping cleaner down them that has the power to dissolve metal will weaken them exponentially. This will eventually lead to burst or cracked pipes.

Keep Reading at Part 2