Top Ten Ways to Prevent a Clog

As promised, here is our follow-up to our Ask an Expert question on using enzyme products.

R&B’s top 10 list for preventing a clogged drain.

  1. Don’t have kids. Ok just kidding, we love kids, but they are by far the most common culprits.  The number of Hot Wheels and other children’s toys we’ve removed from toilets is far greater than the number of toothbrushes!  The lesson is, mind what you flush.  It should usually only be things that will disintegrate in water. 
  2. Men, this one is for you. Don’t pour bacon grease (or any other grease that’s solid at room temperature) down the drain.  I don’t know why people keep doing that!  Running hot water down with it doesn’t always work either because cools as it travels and eventually it’s all going to congeal somewhere.  Maybe you get lucky and it’s not until it’s gone far enough… And maybe you call R&B!
  3. Use a basket strainer and compost.  The worst clogged drain we ever had (and remember, I should know better) was when I put a raw chicken breast down the garburator. It took my poor plumber husband an hour and two trips to the shop for different pieces of equipment, to clear it.  This story actually became a blog series which you may like to read
  4. Try not to wash hair down the drain. In the bathroom, hair is the biggest culprit. It gets caught on the strainer and then catches all kinds of goop from shampoo to toothpaste, slowly adding up.  Gross as it is, you can use tweezers to pick the hair out of the drain when it starts running slowly.  It’s like a gruesome iceberg.  It looks like very little from the top but when you pull the whole thing out its significant.
  5. I’m going to say this one even though we’re an eco-minded, environmentally cautious population for the most part… Don’t pour or clean drywall putty, grout or most commonly, paint down the drain.  This includes cleaning brushes and rollers – it’s surprising how much paint they hold.  Here’s a tip, if you’re going to paint again tomorrow, don’t clean it, wrap the roller in plastic and put it in the fridge.  
  6. This one is for my mother.  You get more bees with honey than you do with vinegar – same goes for preventing clogged drains.  Vinegar seems to cut grease clean well, and if you freeze it half and half with water first you can run it around in your garburator to clean that too, instead of it just running through and down the drain.  The baking soda followed by vinegar approach to clean drains has limited success but DIY sites seem to like it.  R&B doesn’t recommend any other ‘maintenance’ where you periodically pour things down the drain.
  7. If you do have a waste disposal unit, use WAY MORE water than you think you should.  Running cold water for a long time and letting the garburator run and run is how it’s done.  Running cold water will help ensure it doesn’t over heat.
  8. Also with the waste disposal rules, there is a “Never, Never” list.  Never, never put certain things down the garburator:  Banana peels, mango stones, and egg shells are the three biggies, you can Google yourself a list, but I’d add expired, raw chicken breast just based on my own personal experience.
  9. Hot water, not boiling can be used to flush and prevent clogged drains.  This is great if you’re doing dishes by hand.  Our teenagers actually help us out with this one when they insist on doing dishes under a running hot water tap (although it’s a frustrating waste of water since a full sink getting drained works just as well). The reason we don’t use boiling water directly from the kettle is that it’s actually at a higher temp that ABS pipe is rated for.  This opens the door for a chance (from a technical aspect) that you could damage your pipe.
  10. If your washer drains into a laundry sink, invest in a lint trapper to catch those fibres (and stray socks!) 

When you break these rules, and you will if you’re human, please do not use chemical drain cleaners.  Here are a few tips to try yourself before you call us.  For kitchens try a toilet plunger.  For bathrooms, you can also try a shop vac to clear a clogged drain.  For both of these to be effective, be sure that you have a tight seal!  If you have a snake, and know how to use it, go ahead.  If those fail you need us, and R&B will be there.

While you are here, why not check out this 30 second clip on some of the best tools for fixing a clogged sink. Who knows, it could save you a whole lot of time, money or headache.