Summertime living might be easy and carefree, but that isn’t true for plumbers and for many homeowners. Summer can be a season of clogged drains and backed up toilets.
The reasons for increased plumbing service calls are simple, explains Raman Singh, general manager for Washington’s Drain Pro Plumbing, Inc.
“Kids are home during the day, and in addition to using the toilet, they love playing with water, including flushing paper and small objects down the toilet,” Singh said.
Summer is also a time when people do more entertaining. When focused on company, “We may be less careful of what we put down the drain or the disposal,” Singh says. “And, we do more laundry, especially if we go swimming or have guests.”
To avoid being a victim of a summertime backed-up drain, here are some recommendations to follow.
Watch what you flush
More frequent clogs are a side-effect of having water-conserving toilets, Singh notes. That means people need to be more careful about what they try to flush. Although they are convenient, wet wipes can clog sewage systems. Even the flushable kinds don’t dissolve like toilet paper. So if you are using them like toilet paper and flushing them, you’re going to have problems.
Paper towels, napkins and even excessive amounts of toilet paper can clog your toilet. Singh advises holding the handle down when you flush the toilet to make certain you get a full flush to push everything through.
Being selective about what you put through your garbage disposal can prevent trouble. Many disposals struggle to grind up summer favorites like melon rinds and corn cobs. Another summer clog culprit is grease from barbecues. Never put hot or cold grease down a drain or garbage disposal. The liquid you pour down mixes with leftover food and becomes a sticky sludge. Whenever you use your disposal, flush it with plenty of water to make sure it is clear.
Many people trim and shave hair for a clean, cool summer look. Don’t try to wash the hair down the bathroom drain, though, because the combination of hair, soap and toothpaste can combine to make an impenetrable clog. For people with long hair, consider installing hair catchers in shower and bathtub drains. For about $10, you get a little device that sits in your drain and catches hair and gunk, explains lifehacker.com. “Gross, yes, but you just empty it once or twice a month and your drain will never clog.”
A little bit of regular maintenance can prevent stopped up bathtub drains. Lifehacker recommends pouring a gallon of boiling water down your bathtub drain once a month to help loosen any hair or gunk clogging the main pathway. Afterward, “be sure to run regular warm water for about five minutes just to continue pushing everything as far down and out as you can get it.”
Don’t use chemical drain cleaners
Drain-cleaning products often do more harm than good, reports houselogic.com. They can actually erode pipes with every use. Over time, the result can be leaks that can cause costly damage and are expensive to repair.
If you do end up with a clog, don’t despair. In most cases, an experienced, reliable plumber can clear a clogged drain in just a few minutes for a reasonable cost. It’s much better to have it done right than to try to fix it yourself and create a much bigger problem.
When your drains are flowing freely, it is much easier to enjoy a relaxed summer with your family and your guests.