Slow drain: minor annoyance – or big problem?

Dealing with a slow drain

We take our drains for granted – Household drains are a marvel of modern plumbing. The convenience they provide is often taken for granted until something goes wrong – and the drain won’t drain.

But maybe you’ve noticed a soapy residue around your bath drain, or an oily coating in your kitchen sink, or a new water stain around a laundry floor drain. All of these things are indicators of a slow drain. The good news is that if you can take care of it before it becomes a clogged drain, you might be able to avoid costly repairs.

Bathroom drains

Hair and soap are the biggest enemies of your bath drains, and are the culprits behind many bath clogs. It’s a good idea to install a screen in your shower and bath drains, especially if there’s someone in your household with long hair. These are simple devices which can fit over an existing drain cover, or replace existing drain covers, catching hair and other debris in a screen or basket.

The kitchen sink

All kinds of organic matter goes through your kitchen during the process of preparing food.

Grease

Cooking grease congeals and clogs kitchen pipes – and over time, it could even clog your main sewage lines. It’s just never a good idea to put any kind of grease or fat down your drain. Instead, you can put small amounts of used oil into compost heaps (alongside those fibrous vegetable scraps!). Also, your local waste management and recycling companies may be able to take and properly process used cooking oils. (Check out where you can recycle cooking oil here: Earth 911.)

Food waste

Using your garbage disposal is an obvious way to help prevent peelings and other food scraps from clogging up your drain – but even the disposal has its limits. They are not designed to handle fibrous vegetable matter, like celery or cornhusks. This stuff can get tangled in the disposal blades and prevent them from grinding food waste properly. If your kitchen sink drain is slow, the problem may be with your garbage disposal’s performance.

Slow drains housewide

If all the drains in your house are slow, you may have another issue. Invasive tree roots and other organic matter can get cause problems in the main sewer line. In that case, a plumber should be called to investigate.

 Remedies

  • If you’re just dealing with a single slow or clogged drain, then the humble plunger is your first line of defense. Please note that one plunger does not fit all drains – there are different styles to use, depending on the location of the clog. With any task, it’s important to use the right tool.
  • You might think chemical drain cleaner will help, but that’s generally not recommended. For one thing, if it doesn’t resolve your problem, you’ll be stuck with a sink full of hazardous liquid waste. It can also be harmful to the delicate plumbing found in many older homes. It’s best to stick with a plunger – or call a plumber.

Keeping the lines clear

Making sure your drains don’t have to take in hair, grease, or stringing organic matter is a good way to keep your drains – as well as main sewer lines – clear and working properly. It’s good for your drain hygiene – and good for your budget.