What is a healthy drainage system?
In order to keep your drains healthy, you need to make sure you know what that actually means. You should have a drainage system that is not producing any odors or attracting any drain flies. Your drain should drain properly (i.e you’re not experiencing slow drain) and there should be no blocked drains, clogged drains or anything else.
Blocked drains and clogged drains occur when things enter the drainage system like hair and soap scum in shower drains or orange peels and food remnants in kitchen drains, or when there is an issue with the pipes. As renters or homeowners, we can actively work to prevent blockages in order to maintain our drains.
For those unsure where to start when it comes to drain maintenance, here are some of the simplest tips to keep your drains clean and blockage free.
1. Prevent grease and fat from entering the drains
We often end up with a lot of cooking grease on our pans, baking trays and dishes. This then gets washed away down the pipes when we wash up or when we place our dishes in the dishwasher. The cooking grease and fat, and any other food remnants then form congealed blockages. The cooking fats come together, cementing other debris into a large clog that becomes difficult to dislodge.
It is best, therefore, to keep your drains free from cooking fat and grease by collecting the oils into bottles or pots and either chucking them away, or using them to create fat balls for birds.
2. Maintain a healthy drainage outdoors
A home’s drains are all connected, so if your outdoor drains are not being cared for as well as your indoor drains are, you may find that you come across slow drainage, drain flies, and poor smells. To prevent it, just make sure you regularly remove any debris from your outdoor drain. Things like leaves, twigs, and other natural debris lurking in your garden or street can enter your drain and cause blockages, which you ultimately want to avoid!
3. Make sure you clean drains regularly
One key part of ensuring you have a healthy drain system is to regularly clean your drains with one of the various drain cleaning tools or cleaners available. This can help wash away cooking fat, soap scum, and coffee grounds, preventing a blocked drain and making everything run easily.
To clean your drains, try the following methods:
- Baking soda and vinegar
Baking soda and vinegar mix together to form a chemical reaction that bubbles away within your pipe. It is a gentle way to clean your drains and will help to break up any existing blockages as well as any that are beginning to form. Pour half a cup of baking soda and half a cup of vinegar down your drain and leave to soak, and then come back and rinse the drain. You should find that this makes sure that your sink/bathtub drains properly and smells fine.
- Enzymatic drain cleaners
These cleaners are biological, and work by using enzymes that eat away at the bacteria and other components of blocked drains and bad drains. They are delicate enough to not damage your drains, but will work well on organic matter and help to keep your drains clean.
- Hot water
Hot water is an easy way to clean your drains. Pouring a large pot of hot water down your drain pipe can help to melt away and blockages (especially those caused by cooking oils or soap scum) and they don’t rely on any harsh chemicals. It is important to note, however, that whilst water is great to unblock a drain, using boiling water can cause significant damage to pipes. So swap your boiling water for water that’s hot but not yet boiled instead.
You should be sure, when cleaning your drain, not to use a chemical drain cleaner. Chemical cleaners are bad for drains, and can even cause pipe corrosion if used too often or with the wrong pipes. Whilst drain maintenance is important, it is better to avoid using a chemical drain cleaner and sticking with the more natural methods. If those methods fail you, call a plumber.
4. Invest in drain guards and plughole protectors
You can buy products to help you to stop your drains from blocking, and they are usually relatively inexpensive. For outdoor drains, drain guards can be put in place to prevent debris from entering the sewage system, and for indoor drains, plughole protectors can help to keep things like hair, jewelry and food particles out of your drainage system.
5. Be careful what you flush
Many people assume that their toilets can cope with whatever they flush down them, but this is very much not the case. Toilets can handle human waste and toilet roll, but that’s about it. Flushing female sanitary products, baby wipes, or even kitchen roll can cause blockages within the pipes. You’re better off getting a bathroom bin for everything that isn’t waste and loo roll, as this will better protect your pipes and your toilet.
6. Brush your hair before a shower
One of the leading causes of drain blockages is hair in the pipes. This occurs when insufficient drain maintenance is done, and hair is left to enter the pipes through the bathtub drain. To prevent (or at least reduce) how much hair is entering the drainage system each time you wash, brush your hair prior to stepping into the bath.
7. Wash pets outside
We all love our furry friends, but sometimes they can get really quite stinky! When that time comes, and your pets need a wash, opt for hosing them down in the garden rather than treating them to a deluxe spa bath day. For one, this is easier for you and them, but it will also reduce the hair entering the pipes, helping with drain maintenance.
Ultimately, drain maintenance is relatively easy so long as it is kept on top of. It can help make your home a more pleasant place to be, and can relieve a lot of stress and financial concern from your shoulders – plumbers aren’t exactly cheap!