Whether you’ve taken a shower and your ankles are underwater, or your kitchen or bathroom sink takes forever to drain, here’s what’s causing the clog and some tips on what to do today if your drains running slow or not at all.
Soap: The Silent Drain Clogger
When it comes to bathroom drains and basins, the typical cause is a combination of soap and hair. Whether it’s gel-based shaving cream, liquid soap for washing hands or shampoo in the tub, they all have the same thing in common – they are sticky. Whether your drains are metal or plastic or some combination of the two, soap creates a plaque over time that is equivalent to folks with blocked arteries in their heart. In both cases, the usual reason is simply not treating your pipes with care.
Adding human hair that naturally falls out during shampooing or shaving, and hair/soap clogs happen even faster. That’s because the soap and hair together form a thick plaque that sticks to the walls of the drain pipes, slowly making the available space for water to flow through smaller and smaller.
Another place where soap can create the same problem is when pumping dirty water from a washing machine in a basement sink or directly into the same water flow line. The soap mixes in the washer with fibers from clothing to create a similar plaque, however, because the soap comes out with hot water, the drain rarely clogs. The soap doesn’t get the chance to solidify or stick to the drain pipe because the hot water washes it through. Even with a cold water rinse, there is very little soap and/or soap with fabric bits left to clog the line.
Grease is the Word
In the kitchen, whether directly through the sink drain, or through the dishwasher drain, once again, we’re dealing with soap, only this time, the soap is combined with grease from normal cooking. Grease and cooking oil are worse than soap alone because they solidify as they change temperature from hot to cold. Add bits of food and cooking ingredients that are washed either by hand in the sink or in the dishwasher, and you’re on the way to another clogged drain.
Seriously STOP! If you are reading this, and thinking about your ankle-deep water in the shower, or the kitchen sink drain that takes an hour to empty, you might be compelled to run out and purchase a liquid drain cleaner. STOP! These products are TOXIC, POLLUTING and POTENTIALLY SERIOUSLY HARMFUL TO YOU. Here’s why.
Popular liquid or chemical drain cleaners fall into three categories:
1) Strong caustics (Lye or Sodium Hydroxide),
2) Strong acids (Sulfuric acid)
The first two of these do not work well on clogs made mostly of grease. But they are very good on grease mixed with organic materials like hair. They react to digest the protein in the hair and make a very soluble muck. Caustics and acids tend to release heat when mixed with water. This heat softens the grease plug and is probably more effective than any chemical reaction with the grease itself. Enzyme cleaners contain enzymes which decompose organic grease (like lard or bacon grease) as well as enzymes to digest the proteins. These are the most effective (and less environmentally harmful) products.
If you MUST use this quick fix, please be sure to use the following safety tips:
- Wear Eye Protection
- Wear Rubber Gloves
- Wear Long Sleeve shirts to avoid getting any splashed product on your skin
- Open windows for ventilation
- Follow the instructions on the product label regarding how much to use, how long to wait before flushing with water and do not get close to the drain since toxic vapors will likely be expelled during the chemical process.
- Mike’s Safety Tip: If you MUST use one of these products, run HOT water for at least 10 minutes before putting any parts of your body near the clogged drain.
A Much Safer, and Longer Lasting Solution
No matter how hard you try, over time, slow drains clogged by soap, grease and/or hair are going to happen, eventually leading to an outright stopped drain. Drain line snakes sold by home improvement stores simply don’t go deep enough to truly flush your system.
Make life easy by including drain cleaning as a part of regular maintenance in your home or business. Muccia Plumbing technicians can remove all built up soap, grease, and other clogging components by using professional tools and a logical process of where to start and where to finish to ensure your pipes, traps, and sewers are clear and performing at optimum performance. It’s a cheap price to pay to prevent slow and completely clogged drains, without dealing with toxic, polluting and harmful products.
Call Muccia Plumbing today at 201-343-1414 or send us an email email@example.com and schedule a drain cleaning service. Do it once a year. Think of it as a birthday present to your home or business. You’ll be happy you did.