Well, well, well, you have yourself a little clog problem, don’t you? Otherwise you wouldn’t really have a reason for reading this blog, would you? Unless you are one of those exceptional homeowners who believes in taking a preventative approach to home maintenance. But really, who has their life together to that degree?! Who even has the time?!
Okay, so you have a little clog problem, and it is getting out of control. And as much as you love the frequent visits from your friendly neighborhood Parker & Sons Plumbing Professional, you feel like they are starting to get a little excessive. Some of your particularly nosy neighbors have been whispering to each other from across the fence posts.
The key to cutting down on these admittedly prompt, effective, and highly affordable visits is coming to understand the common causes of clogs so that you so that you can stop addressing symptoms and start addressing underlying causes. Just like a good doctor who understands that lifestyle can contribute to conditions, a good plumber understands that, well, lifestyle can contribute to plumbing conditions.
Let’s do it.
You run a busy home and you have to do a lot of cooking. It is stressful and hectic. And when it finally comes time to clean up at the end of a long night, you are just interested in getting the job done quickly so that you can spend some quality time with your family (or get to that glass of red wine). BUT WAIT!! Regardless of how much of a rush you are in (for family time), never dumb liquid grease down the drain! You might think that liquid grease would just flow effortlessly down the drain, but you would be unfortunately wrong. As liquid grease cools, it hardens back into a goopy, viscous substance which is notorious for clogging drains.
Our first answer to the question, “clogs – what causes them?!” is a simple one. Grease. Grease causes clogs. So how do you dispose of the grease if not by dumping it down the drain?
Probably the most common method for properly disposing grease is to transfer it into an intermediary container such as large coffee can. When searching for an appropriate container, make sure it can withstand the high temperature of hot grease. Some plastic containers will wilt or even melt under the high heat, which could result in a rather dangerous mess!
- Walking On Eggshells
Just to be clear, this section is not going to be just about eggshells. We didn’t want to have to be walking on eggshells breaking that news to you… *Ahem* Anyway. The section is also going to be able coffee grounds! That is right, eggshells and coffee grounds directly contribute to clogs. Breakfast, truly a scourge, is no friend to your drains. When eggshells or coffee grounds get soaked with water, they become heavy and expand. This causes clogs!
Now, you could toss coffee grounds and eggshells out in the trash to dispose of them. Or, you could do something more productive with them. Composting is an excellent use of these materials. You can also apply coffee grounds directly to your garden. Coffee grounds are super high in nitrogen and have a nearly neutral pH. If you are going to use this method though, start by applying a small amount before gradually increasing it, just to make sure your plants react in a positive manner.
Next, let’s talk about egg shells. Or more precisely, eggshell tea. No, you are not going to have drink this unpleasant tea. It is for your plants to drink! You see, eggshells are chock-full of calcium. Most plants need calcium to produce healthy blooms. To make eggshell tea, simply store the eggshells in a large pitcher of water. Let it steep for at least 4 days. Next, simply water your plants with the eggshell tea. It will give them a much needed nutrient boost which is particularly useful as you approach harvest season.
- All The Starches
Like the listed in the last section, most starchy foodstuffs are prohibitively catastrophic for your drains. Again, like the category we discuss in the above section, this is because these foods do not react well with water. Well, they do when you are cooking them, but not when you are disposing of them.
When we are talking about starchy foods, we are discussing things like pasta, beans, and potatoes. To get a clear idea about why these foodstuffs are bad for your drain, think about their cooking process. Before you cook them, they are hard, brittle, or unyielding. After cooking, they are softened and palatable. What was the vessel for this gastronomic transformation? Water!
Now, think about when you overcook pasta. What happens to it?
It gets all mushy and disgusting, right?
Next, let’s take this thought experiment a few steps further. What if you leave it in water even longer? The starches in the food continue to break down even further. Eventually, what you get is a goopy, pasty mess. The type of goopy, pasty mess that loves to coagulate in your pipes to create stubborn clogs.
To avoid this problem, simply avoid dumping starchy food down the drain. For these items, it is perfectly fine to just toss them in the trash. Pasta and potatoes are not particularly nutrient rich so they don’t make incredible composting material. But they do make great clog fertilizer. As in, they fertilize your clogs into becoming cloggier clogs.
- Be Careful With Liquid Drain Cleaners
Honestly, be careful with most store-bought liquid drain cleaners. It has been proven time and time again that their efficacy is rather… questionable. A homemade combination of vinegar and baking soda is typically just as effective (if not more so) than many of the expensive cleaners you might buy.
As always though, your best bet for clearing a clog is to call a professional plumber! At Parker & Sons, we are always ready to help you out in any way you need.