Clogged Drains 101: How To Keep Your Family's Pipes Healthy And Sanitary

Clogged drains are one of life's little irritations and they always seem to happen at the most inopportune times, but did you know that they can also make your family sick? Whether your sink, toilet or bathtub drain is clogged, the ill effects can spread throughout your home before you know it. In this article, learn how a clogged drain can impact the health of your family, how you can prevent clogs and when it's time to call a professional.

Clogged Drains and Your Health

If you pride yourself on a clean and sanitary home, but find that your family often feels sick, sluggish or moody, you may want to check your drains.

All drains become clogged if not regularly maintained and the debris and gunk can lead to:

  • Noxious odors
  • Mold
  • Bacteria build-up
  • Pests

Heavily and continuously clogged plumbing can cause moisture to seep into cabinets, walls and flooring. Wet materials are a breeding ground for mold, foul odors, and bacteria. Standing water can attract insects that carry germs and diseases.

Illnesses that arise under these conditions can include:

  • Respiratory problems
  • Muscle and joint pain
  • Headaches
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Compromised immune systems
  • Gastrointestinal problems
  • Infection

Clogged Drain Prevention

While drain clogs are normal and happen to everyone from time to time, you can keep them at a minimum. To prevent unnecessary clogs implement the following practices:

  • After cleanup rinse. After each meal-time cleanup, run hot tap water down your kitchen drain for about a minute. This will ensure that grease and fats run through the pipes rather than building up inside.
  • Weekly rinse. Once a week, pour ½ cup each of baking soda and salt into your drains, followed by ½ cup of vinegar. Allow the mixture to foam and work its magic for one minute and then rinse with two quarts of boiling water. This is especially helpful for drains that often clog and can be used in any drain in your home.

It's also very important to be careful what you rinse down your sink. Grease and cooking oil should never be intentionally washed down the drain. Instead, store them in disposable containers and throw them in the trash when completely cool.

Coffee grounds are a big culprit in clogged kitchen drains – never wash them away in the sink. For bathroom drains, make sure to remove as much hair from the sink or bathtub as possible before running the water.

Use a screened drain cover to prevent as much debris as possible from getting rinsed down your drains and invest in natural-based cleaners. Chemical cleaners can strip your pipes of good bacteria that helps remove bad bacteria and can cause your pipes to corrode. It is also a good idea to use these cleaners at night after your family goes to bed when the water isn't being run and washing the cleaners away.

When It's Time to Call a Plumber

A little prevention can go a long way, but there are times when baking soda, salt and vinegar just won't do the trick.

Call a professional when you notice:

  • Persistent clogs. If you're constantly having to work your plunger on a particular drain, there could be more going on than you are aware of. Plumbers have the experience and tools that will ensure that your pipes are completely free of debris.
  • Foul odors or slow drains. Even a drain that is not completely stopped up can be problematic. A healthy drain should not emit any type of bad odor and a sink or bathtub that takes a long time to drain is a sign that debris may be building up. A professional can assess the problem and ensure that a more serious blockage doesn't happen.

You should also consider hiring a plumber once a year to inspect and clear your pipes. Septic tanks or main connections to your city sewer should also be inspected periodically to prevent serious clogs.

No one wants to deal with a stopped up sink or bathtub – and a toilet clog may feel like Armageddon! Besides being inconvenient and frustrating, clogged pipes can also land you in bed or the doctor's office. Use the tips in this article to keep your family healthy and your pipes running like they're supposed to. And don't hesitate to call drain cleaning services if the problem is beyond your control.