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Most people don’t spend much time thinking about their household drains until they find themselves dealing with a slow-draining sink or stopped-up shower. However, regular drain cleaning is an important part of home maintenance that can help avoid those annoying and inconvenient clogs while extending the life of your plumbing system. Read on to learn more about the importance of getting your drain system regularly maintained in Richmond City, VA.
The Dangers of Clogged Drains
Most of the problems caused by clogged drains are obvious. Your kitchen sink may take forever to fully drain, which can be annoying when you’re doing dishes. Slow-draining showers and bathtubs can make showering unpleasant as soapy water builds up around your feet. In extreme cases, the drains may get completely blocked, resulting in an inconvenient emergency call.
However, there are also hidden problems that clogged drains can cause. The build-up of pressure caused by slow-draining water puts more strain on your pipes than free-flowing water, which can cause weakness and cracking over time. This leads to your plumbing needing repair or replacement sooner, which can be a big expense. Cracked, leaking pipes can also cause water damage and flooding, which can lead to structural damage, mold growth and other serious issues.
What Causes Clogs?
Clogged drains have some obvious causes, such as large food particles, clumps of hair and foreign objects that weren’t meant to go down a drain. Flushed items, such as too much toilet paper, are a common culprit. Baby wipes and tampons are also common causes of clogged drain systems. These items should always go in the trash, even if they’re advertised as being flushable.
However, even if you’re careful to avoid letting those kinds of things go down your drains, clogs are still inevitable without regular drain cleaning. One of the biggest causes of clogged drains is what plumbers commonly refer to as FOG, which stands for fats, oils and grease. These materials turn into free-flowing liquids when you use hot water to scrub them off your dishes, then slowly congeal into solid layers as they move through your drains. Over time, this build-up can cause a clog. Even before a full clog occurs, it can smell bad and attract insects.
Bathroom drains have a similar problem. Using a strainer to catch hair can help, but small hairs are still likely to slip through and get washed down the drain, which can eventually cause problems. Soap scum is also a problem, as it can build up over time just like fats and grease do in the kitchen. Some soaps can cause chemical reactions that slowly damage your pipes and eventually cause leaks.
Signs Your Drains Need Cleaning
The most obvious sign of clogged drains is slow draining. Large clogs may cause your drains to become fully backed up. If you have regular problems with small clogs or multiple drains become clogged at once, you may have a bigger problem with a clog in the main line.
Persistent bad odors are another good sign that your drains are getting clogged. Sometimes these hang around, while other clogs may only smell bad when the drain is actually in use. However, if you’re regularly getting a whiff of something foul, it’s probably time for a professional drain cleaning.
Water backflow can be a sign of a clog, as well as other serious problems. Most clogged drains aren’t an emergency, but if you notice water coming back up your drains rather than just draining slowly, call a plumber immediately. This can be a sign that there are serious problems in your main drain line, which causes water to back up through your entire system.
Annual Drain Cleaning
Most professionals also recommend routine drain cleaning for your home in Richmond City, VA, even if your plumbing system doesn’t seem to have any problems. Having a professional come out once a year to clean your home’s drain system can avoid those annoying and unpleasant signs of clogged drains. Regular cleaning can help extend the life of your system by removing build-up that’s putting unnecessary stress on your pipes, as well as soap scum and other chemicals that may be eating away at them. A professional can also check for signs of leaks and other subtle problems that may not be noticeable yet in everyday usage.
Professional vs. Do-It-Yourself Drain Cleaning
Drain cleaning seems like a simple process, which makes it a common task for do-it-yourself homeowners. Sometimes this isn’t a big deal. Almost everyone has had to occasionally take a plunger to the toilet to deal with a small clog or clean some hair out of the drain.
However, some do-it-yourself methods can damage your pipes. Many drain cleaning products you can purchase in the store are overly harsh, which can weaken your pipes and cause issues over time. This is particularly true if you find yourself using them frequently. They can also be hazardous to your family’s health if children or pets touch or try to eat them. Most are not good for the environment.
There are some safer alternatives, which can be acceptable for dealing with small clogs near the surface. However, these still can’t provide the same results as a professional drain cleaning simply because they can’t make it very far into your drain system. Professional service typically involves flushing the entire system using specialized equipment, which the average homeowner can’t replicate. In addition, professional cleanings typically involve an inspection to look for other problems and check the general condition of your drain system.
If your system is showing signs of clogs or if it’s simply been more than a year since the last time it was cleaned, contact bluefrog Plumbing + Drain today to talk about your options. We provide fast, efficient and stress-free plumbing services in the Richmond City, VA area. Call our friendly customer service agents at (804)538-2583 to schedule an appointment.