Protect Your Drains & Your Wallet with These Preventive Tips

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Dealing with clogged drains can be a pain in more ways than one. Not only can drain cleaning be time-consuming, but it can also prove costly depending on the severity of the clog. For example, a complete sewer drain cleanout via hydro jetting can cost upwards to $1,300 according to national estimates.

Fortunately, it only takes a little prevention to preserve your drains, along with your wallet. Here are a few tips you can use to keep your drains clear and your household repair budget intact.

Dispose Your Food Waste Properly

With most kitchen sinks equipped with a garbage disposal, it's easy to rely on it to get rid of your food waste. But the food waste you dump in your garbage disposal seldom disappears entirely. Bits of food waste can stick to drains and sewer pipes, eventually building into a clog with enough time and organic matter.

Instead of giving your food waste a one-way trip down the drain, consider other methods of disposal. For instance, scrape leftover food off your plates into the garbage instead of the garbage disposal. Keep in mind that your disposal is only meant to deal with tiny bits of leftover food as you wash dishes.

You can also create a compost pile and get rid your food waste that way. Composted waste also doubles as fertilizer, which could come in handy if you're an avid gardener.

Collect Grease and Oils

Using your drains to get rid of unwanted grease can be a short-term solution with plenty of long-term problems. Hot grease will eventually cool and congeal into a solid mass as it travels down the drain. The end result is a clog formation that traps other particles until it creates a complete blockage.  

You can save yourself and your drains the trouble caused by grease clogs by storing your used grease in a metal canister or glass jar. Then you can either reuse the grease you've saved or toss the container in the garbage.

Screen Out Hair and Lint

Whether it's human hair or pet hair, watching those long strands go down your sink or bathtub drain can have consequences later on. Hairs can combine with soap scum and other particles to create massive clogs. Hair can also get tangled up in pop-up stoppers on bathroom sinks, which means you'll have to remove the stopper and spend a few unpleasant moments pulling hair out of it.

You can prevent these problems by installing a mesh screen in your tub or sink drain. A fine mesh will help capture hair, dental floss and anything else that's not supposed to go down your drains before they have a chance to create clogs.

Lint and stray bits of fabric can also do a number on your washing machine's drain. Installing a mesh lint trap on the end of your washing machine's discharge hose can help keep lint out of your drain.  

Avoid Using Caustic Drain Cleaners

Chemical drain cleaners are often the go-to solution for tackling minor clogs. While most drain cleaners seem to work like magic, the way they work has the potential to slowly damage your drains and sewer plumbing over time.

Most drain cleaners are made from caustic compounds that dissolve fats and other organic matter. These compounds can also generate enough heat to soften and melt PVC drain pipes. Drain cleaners can also react with stainless steel and aluminum, leading to corrosion or toxic fumes. Pipes already damaged by corrosion can experience further damage when using chemical drain cleaners.

Your best bet is to put away the drain cleaner and take a different approach to clog busting. For minor clogs, you can use a handheld drain snake to break through the blockage. Particularly stubborn clogs may require the intervention of a skilled plumber and a heavy-duty plumbing snake or hydro jet tool. Local drain repair services have further suggestions of what to use instead to preserve your drains.

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