Your drains are arguably the most important part of your home’s plumbing system. Without drains and drain pipes, wastewater would have nowhere to go. Gravity allows our kitchen, bathroom, and outdoor drains to just work, without much need from the homeowner. This makes it easy to overlook drains until a problem pops up.

Avoid Chemical Drain Cleaners

Store-bought, chemical drain cleaners sound great in theory. After all, they’re a quick and easy approach to clearing out a clog, and they don’t require you to deal with the mess directly. However, chemical drain cleaners can be incredibly dangerous for you and your home. These drain cleaners work by generating heat at the point of the clog through a chemical reaction. This heat can damage metal pipes and soften PVC. Even drain cleaners that are branded as “safe for drains” may not be a great fit for your home, especially when used over and over again.

Of course, there are also safety considerations to using chemical drain cleaners. Drain cleaning products are among the most toxic and hazardous chemicals stored in the average American home. Skin or eye exposure can be incredibly hazardous, and improper storage could lead to the release of toxic gasses or explosive results.

One final note: If your home has a septic system, never use drain cleaners! Septic systems rely on bacteria to break down waste. Drain cleaners don’t just remove the clog but can kill off these bacteria in mass, greatly reducing the effectiveness of the septic system.

Take Proactive Steps to Avoid Sewer Line Issues

In many ways, we tend to take our drains for granted. What goes down the kitchen sink, shower drain, or toilet just disappears. In reality, what’s happening is that all the wastewater from your home is exiting through the sewer line to either the municipal sewer or your septic tank. Issues with this line can be a major, expensive disaster for homeowners.

One of the most common problems with the sewer or septic lines is clogs. In most cases, clogs form slowly over time as certain materials become trapped in the line. Cooking grease, oil, coffee grounds, eggshells, rice, and flour are all potential clog-causers, and should never be disposed of in the sink. In the bathroom, flushing non-flushable items—including plastic waste, non-organic trash, or allegedly “flushable” hygiene wipes—can also cause a sewer line clog.

Some sewer line clogs and cracks are caused by an external force: tree roots. Ever-thirsty roots can burrow deep into the earth in search of water and nutrients. Even a small leak in the sewer or septic line can lead to a tree root growing around, or even into, the line. This can expand the scope of a line leak issue or even lead to a clogged line.

To prevent and avoid sewer line issues and reduce the threat of a sewer backup into your home, watch what you put down the kitchen sink, shower drain, or toilets. If you have guests coming over to your home or family staying with you, be sure to let them know, too. If you have any trees within 10 feet of your line, call in an arborist for an assessment: some slow-growing species might be fine, but fast-growing ones with aggressive roots might need to be moved.

Protect Your Drains and Your Home

For a comprehensive look at how you can protect your home’s drains and prevent sewer line or septic system problems, be sure to look at this infographic.

Meet the Author
Brandon Bird
Brandon Bird

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