We turn on the faucet and expect an instant stream of clean water to come out every single time. But sometimes it’s not that simple. Drain cleaning is an often forgotten part of home-ownership that only gets attention when it causes a big problem. Too many homeowners neglect their plumbing until they have muddy water, sewer in the kitchen, or a burst pipe in the bedroom. Keeping up with drain cleaning is key to maintaining a healthy plumbing system for years.
Signs of a Clogged Drain
Drains are meant to remove waste water, but most of us use them for much more than water. Trash, hair, food, and leftovers are all common flushers, but sometimes these simple habits can cause a lot of grief. Too much waste, dropped toys, small animals or other foreign objects can cause big problems in our drains. The daily abuse of our drains adds up, and over time can cause clogs that require drain cleaning, drain repairs, or sometimes even a complete drain replacement.
Here are some telltale signs that you may need your drains looked at:
- Toilet Doesn’t Flush: This is a fairly obvious one. You hit the flusher and nothing happens, or maybe you hear a gurgle coming from the back. Most of the time, we head for the plunger and take care of the issues, but sometimes that’s not enough. This is when it’s time to call a plumber to avoid further damage to your drain, pipes, and fixtures.
- Slow Drainage: Sometimes you may notice that your sink isn’t draining as quickly as it once did, or your tub is taking a long time to empty. This could be caused by a clog. Hair and soap scum are usually the culprits of slow drains in the bathroom. Instead of grabbing liquid drain cleaners which can be harmful and usually aren’t effective, scheduling a drain cleaning with a professional is a much better and safer option.
- Smelly Drains: If you notice a foul odor, it’s likely a dried trap. You can run some water to see if that helps, but if it doesn’t clear up right away, it’s time to call a professional. A smelly drain could be caused by a clog or even a rodent, reptile, or other small animal.
- Gurgling Drains: Often you can hear the problem before you can see it or smell it. There’s a gurgling sound as the water goes down. This could be caused by a clog, a vent, or an issue with the main sewer line. All of these are a good reason to call a professional.
- Unexplained Puddles: Anytime you have water pooling either inside OR outside your home, it’s time to call a plumber. This can cause big problems if left unattended.
Blocked drains can be more than just a nuisance. For homeowners who pay attention and know what causes these issues, it’s possible to reduce the potential of a major clog that could otherwise lead to a major plumbing issue.
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Drain Cleaning Methods
If you have a clog, most of us know how to use a plunger, and not much else. When your clog is more extensive than you can handle, it’s time to call in a professional.
Some homeowners may attempt to use the University of YouTube it or take a DIY route, but more often than not, you can actually make the problem worse by further clogging the drain or damaging the pipes.
Most homeowners don’t possess the proper tools, techniques, or training to effectively clean out a clogged drain. There are several methods professional plumbers use when it comes to drain cleaning.
Plunging: This is exactly what is sounds like. You are using a plunger to force the blockage. Most often used in the toilet, it’s important to completely submerge the plunger for proper suction. If you are unable to clear the clog, there is a reason. It’s time to call your plumber to prevent any further damage to your drain, pipes, and surrounding area.
Water Jetting: This is where water is used at high pressures to cut through and eliminate blockages. Different nozzles and attachments are used to control the water stream, along with varying water pressures, to cut through even the toughest clogs. This is a very effective solution for drain cleaning because it can sometimes eliminate the need for more drastic drain repair or replacements. However, it should only be used by a professional who can ensure the excessive water pressure doesn’t damage the pipes.
Drain Snake: A drain snake has a cylindrical or bell-shaped drum into which the snake cable is coiled. Drain snakes come in different sizes depending on the size and type of drain and are also referred to as a “drum snake” or “top snake.” A drain snake can be used almost anywhere and is especially effective for clogs in tubs, showers, sinks, and even washing machines. Homeowners can purchase small snakes that are 6-8 feet long, but the professionals use a 25- or 50-foot cable with a more effective corkscrew tip for snagging debris.
Chemical Treatment: There are many types of chemicals people use for drain cleaning in liquid, gel, and powder form. Chemicals can be effective, depending on the type of clog, but they should be a last resort because they can damage drains when not used properly.
Professional Drain and Water Line Repair
There may be a time when you turn on your faucet and your steady stream has turned into a weak trickle, or you may notice your water is muddy looking. This is when you need a water line repair.
In most cases, it is not the drain that needs repair, but the water line itself. This is why it’s important to call in a professional. Many times, multiple appliances are connected to the same drain.
For example, in many homes the toilet, bathtub and washing machine may use the same drain. This is why many homeowners see a buildup, and assume the sink is clogged when the real problem is in the washing machine. Calling a professional plumber is the only way to correctly identify the location and source of the clog so you can get a quality water line repair.
With regular drain cleaning, your system can last many years. However, all pipes start to wear down with normal use. If you live in an older home, or in a climate with cold, wet winters and hot, humid summers, these conditions can increase the rate of plumbing deterioration.
Replacing pipes can cost in the range of $200 to as much as $15,000. All depending on the severity of the damage, how much pipe needs to be replaced, pipe location and material cost.
Emergency Drain Services
In the event that you do have a plumbing emergency, quickly shut off the main water valve, and call a local plumber so you can reduce the amount of potential damage. Many of our plumbing contractors offer 24 hour emergency services. Quick action in times of an emergency can mean the difference between mopping up a puddle and major structural damage. Our local plumbers are licensed, professional, and have the experience to handle any plumbing problem.
The Best Plumbers Around
The plumbing in your home or office is so important. We all take plumbing for granted until we suddenly don’t have it anymore. We have scoured the area for the best plumbers in town, so the next time your toilet won’t flush or your drain smells like rotten food, give one of them a call to schedule a drain cleaning or drain repair today.