Clogged drains, no matter where they are in your house are a pain. I’m Roger Patterson, Owner of Call Roger’s Plumbing in Leander, TX.
Being a homeowner can sometimes involve unexpected home repairs, leaky pipes, clogged pipes, stopped up garbage disposals and dealing with service calls you’d rather not have to deal with. As a homeowner, you may not know when to call a professional or when to try a little DIY fix for common household issues such as a clogged kitchen sink or a clogged shower drain.
You’ve probably seen the drain cleaners in the household products section, but what happens when they don’t work, or the fix doesn’t seem to last? Here are some clogged drain tips and helpful FAQs as well as my advice, from over 20 years in the plumbing trenches, on when to call a professional and when it’s OK to try a little DIY.
Strangely, the kitchen and washing machine drains are often tied together underneath the house. One drain has food going down it, the other has lint. A lot of times once there is a blockage, both drains end up clogged. At Call Roger’s Plumbing, we’re careful to be sure to clear as much out of both drains as we can so it completely clears the problem.
The problem in the bathroom is usually hair. Hair can stop a drain in the bathroom tub, shower or sink.
Sometimes we can’t really tell what exactly is causing a clog until we put our drain vision camera in there. We may see that there is a large amount of buildup narrowing the drains and drain pipe. We have a special chemical we can use called Drain Brite that treats this type of buildup and we even offer a warranty against clogs for homes where we use Drain Brite products.
One thing most homeowners don’t consider is problems like sagging lines collecting water underneath the house due to settling in the ground. Occasionally, we discover that a drain line has actually broken, but that’s a repair you should take care of right away before it causes severe and costly damage. Over 10, 15, or 20 years, natural settling can cause a line to sag or bend. In older homes, age can be a factor in a pipe breaking, but we don’t always know why a line breaks—sometimes it starts as a leak, other times the ground shifts over time.
As long as the consumer grade products are labeled safe for use in the septic or sewer, it is OK to first try a “do-it-yourself” solution like drain cleaner or good old elbow grease with a plunger. If it is a small clog, this might solve the problem. In most cases, it works, but only temporarily and then the clog is back. Professional cleaning of the pipes and clearing the drains can completely solve the issue so that it doesn’t return at all.
Cast iron lines are prone to corroding from the inside out. This type of pipe is the type that most often need a professional chemical to clear the corrosion and restore function. We use a chemical called Drain Brite.
The most common problem we see with PVC pipes is a slow build up to where the drain becomes taxed over time, especially around the holidays where maybe there are extra people in the home, or there’s more wash being done. The drain may have been building up a coating over time, but seemingly, once there are more people or more use, the drain can’t handle the extra load. This is a signal that it needs to be professionally cleaned using a chemical such as Drain Brite. DIY treatments may work but only solve the problem temporarily. A solution such as Drain Brite can last for years.
Celery, eggs, rice, pasta (anything that expands with the addition of water) and shrimp tails are just a few of the regular suspects when the garbage disposal and kitchen drain get clogged. For everything you’re putting in the garbage disposal, it is important to run a lot of water after it to flush the line. As with anything, the key is moderation. It isn’t going to work to stuff a huge handful of potato skins through your garbage disposal and expect the sink not to clog.
Then there are the strange things plumbers find in the garbage disposal that no homeowner wants, like a squirrel trapped in the line. Those times, DIY is not the way to go, call a professional!
We offer the only EPA-approved drain maintenance product, BioSmart. It’s an enzyme-based drain cleaner that’s safe for the environment and works great on organic materials such as the types of food that would be commonly found in a kitchen drain. You can pour it in, go to bed and come back in the morning. You can be confident knowing it worked all night on cleaning the drain and keeping it maintained so you can worry less about having an inconvenient clogged drain.
Anytime there is a problem that keeps coming back or a clog that won’t budge, that’s a great time to call in the professionals and get it taken care of completely. Depending on the issue, certain repairs can be very costly if they aren’t made early on, like correcting leaking pipes. A professional plumber has access to tools and materials for professional clog removal and drain cleaning that is not commonly available to you, not to mention the experience to know what is most likely to be the root cause of the problem. Don’t hesitate to call while the problem gets bigger! Get it fixed before it becomes a high-cost problem.