How to maintain your drains

Badly-maintained drains can eventually lead to blockages and clogs that are a huge hassle to sort out, so it makes sense to take the easy route and make the effort to take proper care of your pipes, thereby preventing any problems from arising in the first place.

Here, you’ll advice on essential drain maintenance tips that will keep the water flowing smoothly in your kitchen and bathroom, as well as guidance on what to do if you think your drains might be in need of a clean-out.

The golden rule: prevention is the best cure

If you want to avoid the inconvenience and costs associated with drain blockages, the key is making sure you’re aware of the bad habits that leads to pipes getting clogged, and making small changes to your usage habits to nip potential problems in the bud.

Here are a few drain maintenance essentials that can make a big difference:

  • Pay attention to the substances that are going down the drain, and the everyday behaviours that might be undermining the health of your drains. Rinsing pots, pans and plates, washing hair and emptying coffee grounds down the plughole are all common examples – to find out more about what not to put down the drain, click here.
  • Invest in a drain guard – a small plastic or metal grate-like disk that sits atop your plug – to catch smaller food scraps that would otherwise have gone down the plughole, instead allowing it to be retrieved and thrown in the bin.
  • Take care to dispose of non-dissolvable products like cooking fats, oils and coffee grounds in the bin, rather than letting it go down the plughole. In the case of waste oil, get into the habit of pouring the warm liquid straight from the pan or tray into an empty bottle or other receptacle, before putting it in the bin once it’s cooled.

More intensive maintenance tips (to be attempted with care)

For those who want to take a more proactive approach to maintaining and cleaning their drains, there are a few additional steps and techniques that can be used to shift any blockages that may be in the process of developing. However, it should be remembered that many of these methods come with a certain amount of risk unless they are carried out with great care.

In most cases, drain-cleaning tasks are best left to the professionals, as trained engineers will always have the tools and expertise needed to fix any draining problem without any risk of causing accidental damage. However, if you’d prefer to carry out some of the simpler maintenance on your own, then make sure to read up on as much expert advice as you can, and follow it as carefully as possible.

Step 1: Gather the tools you’ll need

Before getting started on cleaning out your drains, it’s best to get everything you’re likely to need together in one place, so that all of the necessary tools will be to hand as and when they are required.

The following products may be helpful in this task:

  • baking powder
  • white vinegar
  • soda crystals
  • cleaning chemicals
  • protective gloves and goggles

Most of these are common household items, so it’s likely that you’ll already have a few of them lying around your cupboards somewhere. Be aware, however, that some of these items could carry a certain degree of risk, so make sure you’ve properly considered this before getting started.

Step 2: Run some hot water through the pipes

For many people, pouring hot water down the plughole is likely to be their go-to drain cleaning solution; while it won’t be effective on stubborn blockages, it can work quite well as a basic maintenance step.

A quick blast of hot water will help prevent anything undesirable sticking to the inside of your drains, reducing the build-up of the fats, oil and grease that are responsible for so many blockages. However, it’s important not to expose the inside of the pipes to overly hot temperatures, especially when PVC pipes are involved, as this can do more harm than good.

Step 3: Try natural solutions like baking powder, vinegar and soda crystals

Many homeowners prefer to avoid using dedicated cleaning chemicals in favour of more natural solutions, of which there are a few:

  • Pouring baking powder down the drain with hot water can help to absorb any untoward smells, with the alkaline qualities of the substance acting as a cleaning agent. As a sodium bicarbonate, it can help to dissolve grease, but is gentle enough to safely be poured down the pipes.
  • Soda crystals are an old-fashioned cleaning solution that work in much the same way as baking powder. Dissolved in hot water, they can help to break down fats and oil.
  • Vinegar is another popular solution that most people will already have around the house. Containing acetic acid, vinegar can also help to eradicate any buildup within the pipes – pour it down the drain, and wait for half an hour before washing it down with hot water.

Step 4: Consider chemical cleaners

If these solutions are failing to make a difference, then chemical cleaners may be seen as a backup option. These dedicated shop-bought drain cleaning products can pack a much more significant punch than the more organic solutions above, though the potential risks of using them are greater.

Many shops sell one-shot cleaners for an instant clean, or larger quantities of less powerful cleaners that are designed to be used more frequently. However, it’s worth bearing in mind that these heavy-duty chemicals can lead to pipe corrosion; moreover, if they fail to shift the blockage and end up sitting in the pipe, they can prove dangerous to the engineers responsible for the subsequent repair work.

When in doubt, call in the experts

Keeping on top of drain maintenance should be encouraged, as it’s a vital part of keeping the drains and public sewer systems clear of any stubborn blockages. However, if an obstruction does occur, then it’s always going to be a better idea to call on the expertise of a specialist drainage service provider, rather than attempting a DIY job.

If you want to be certain that your drains are cleaned as thoroughly as possible, then give the professionals at Lanes a call. From domestic to commercial drains, our cleaning services will ensure that your normal household and working activities can continue uninterrupted, with a minimum of fuss.

Find out more about our drain cleaning services here, or call us free on 0800 526 488 to have a chat about how we can help you.

If you’d rather speak to someone right away, call our 24/7 team on 0800 526 488.

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