Sinks & Drains Category

10 Things That Should Never Go Down the Drain

Your household drain system isn’t a lot of things. It’s not a garbage can, a toxic waste disposal or a recycling receptacle. Drains are designed to accommodate certain liquids and some liquefied or finely-pulverized solid materials. Anything that falls outside those specifications may cause a nasty clog and/or damage or deteriorate your plumbing. This, in turn, will necessitate the services of a professional plumber to resolve the problem at your expense.

shutterstock_36029497It’s simpler—and less expensive—to keep things that don’t belong in your drains out of your drains in the first place. Here’s a list of the top 10 usual suspects:

  1. Grease and fat. They may go down as a liquid but they harden in your pipes and cause an accumulation of sludge that eventually triggers clogs. Throw it out with the regular trash.
  2. Coffee grounds. Inside your pipes they accumulate at the lowest point in the household plumbing, causing blockages. Dispose in the trash.
  3. Paper towels and most other paper products. With the exception of toilet paper, any paper that goes down drains does not decompose and will cause a pipe blockage.
  4. Rice and pasta products. These foods do not disintegrate but swell inside your pipes, eventually obstructing flow of waste water.
  5. Hair. It’s another ingredient of the sludge that forms inside plumbing and causes clogs. Place hair strainers over drains.
  6. Bath salts. Unless the label specifically states that the product fully dissolves, assume that it doesn’t and don’t let it flow down drains.
  7. Eggshells, corn husks, onion skins, etc. Any food products that are undigestible don’t belong in your drains, either.
  8. Cat litter. This is very water-absorbent and thus extremely hard to clear out of your plumbing once it causes a clog.
  9. Nail polish remover and other solvents. These are bad for pipes and rubber seals and will eventually degrade plumbing.
  10. Caustic drain openers. Strong drain openers that include sodium hydroxide or other harsh chemicals may destroy pipes. If you can’t open a clogged drain with a simple plunger, contact a plumber.

For a clogged drain or other plumbing issues, in greater Cincinnati contact the professional plumbers at Apollo Home.


Struggling with Clogged Drains: 3 Cases Where You Need to Call a Pro

Dealing with clogged drains can be a real headache. Sometimes it’s a simple clog that you can fix yourself with a plunger or a small manual snake. For more severely clogged drains, however, especially backups that originate in the main line, you can save yourself a lot of time and hassle by calling a pro right away.

Plumber fixing a clogged drain Source: Shutterstock

Plumber fixing a clogged drain
Source: Shutterstock

How do you know when a clogged drain is severe enough to require professional attention? Here are a few indications that you may have a severe clog on your hands.

  • When more than one drain is running slow. Multiple clogged drains usually aren’t a coincidence – most likely you have a single clog below where the drainage pipes meet, perhaps even in the main line. The problem could even be 15 feet from the house, requiring a professional snake that is long enough and strong enough to break through and clear it at that distance.
  • When water backs up into another drain. For instance, if you find standing water in your utility sink when you’re doing laundry, or water backs up into your bathtub or shower when you flush the toilet, you likely have a main line clog.
  • When your drains smell like sewage. It’s normal for a kitchen drain to develop a foul smell on occasion, but smelly garbage disposals are usually easily resolved by putting lemon peels, ice, or baking soda and vinegar down the drain. If this doesn’t resolve the smell, or if it’s coming from multiple drains, your main line may be backed up.

Few things are more frustrating than slow-running drains, especially when they start interfering with your day-to-day tasks. If you suspect a severe clog, resist the urge to pour chemicals into your drain to clear it, as these rarely work and usually just sit in the pipes for the plumber to find when he comes to clear the drain. Instead, call Apollo Home Comfort today for clogged drains and other plumbing problems in the Greater Cincinnati area, and we’ll have your plumbing flowing freely in no time!

How to Prevent Clogged Drains in a Bathroom

A slow-running sink or shower drain is more than a minor annoyance. It can quickly turn into a clog that results in water running all over your bathroom floor.

The drain of a porcelain bathroom sink in grayscale.

Source: istockphoto
A clogged bathroom sink drain

Apollo Home’s drain clearing and cleaning in Cincinnati can get rid of most of the issues that occur locally, but there’s a lot you can do to prevent these problem.

Keep Out Debris

The most effective strategy for keeping your drains clean is not to allow debris to get into them in the first place. Never dispose of trash down the drain, even if it seems to wash down easily. This includes greasy substances such as lotions, as well as hygiene products such as cotton balls.

To keep out hair, place a drain strainer in your shower, tub, and bathroom sink drains. Drain strainers are small colander-like screens that sit on top of the drain. You’ll need to clean them periodically, but that’s a lot easier than dealing with hair clogs inside your pipes.

Clean the Drains Regularly

Even if you take cool showers, run the hot water for a minute afterward to wash away buildup from the drain. For a more thorough cleaning, periodically toss a handful of baking soda into each of your bathroom drains, then run the hot water for a minute.

If your drains are prone to clogs, once a month, pour a gallon of near-boiling water into the drains. This loosens up sludge so it’s easier to wash away. After pouring in hot water, run the warm water for around five minutes to fully clear out the sludge.

To clear a slightly clogged drain, pouring in a cup of vinegar and let it sit for half an hour, then run the hot water.

For clogs that prevent any water from draining or drains that frequently clog, contact a plumber. A professional can help you clear the drain without causing damage and can advise you on what to do so the clogs don’t keep happening.

If you could use a little pro help with drain clearing and cleaning in Cincinnati, contact Apollo Home Heating, Cooling and Plumbing today.

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Plumber’s Tip: 8 Steps to Unclog a Drain

If the water is draining unusually slowly from a sink, shower or tub in your home, don’t ignore it.  Addressing the issue right away can prevent bigger plumbing problems – and avoid the nasty mess of a completely clogged drain and potential water damage.

First, determine if the problem is isolated to one drain or is more widespread.  If other sinks or tubs are draining slowly as well, there may be a problem with your main sewer drainage line and you should call a plumber right away.  If the problem is only in one location, it is likely just buildup in that specific pipe and you can often remedy the situation with a few simple steps.

  1. Remove the drain stopper to see if you can determine what is blocking the drain.
  2. If the clog is visible, use your hand, pliers, or a wire coat hanger to remove the blockage.
  3. If you cannot reach the clog, run hot water down the drain for a few minutes.  This can dissolve the debris that is blocking the pipe.  If hot water does not do the trick, try pouring boiling water down the sink – but only if you are certain that your pipes are metal and not plastic PVC which can be damaged by boiling water.
  4. If the sink or tub is still not draining well, you will need to use a plunger to clear the clog.  A standard cup style plunger are dark red in color and have a flat, somewhat wide rim and come in various sizes.  These small ones are best for sinks and the large plungers work best in showers and bath tubs. Ball and flange plungers are specifically for use in toilets and will not be as effective in a sink, shower or tub.
  5. Seal the overflow outlet by covering it with a washcloth or piece of waterproof tape.
  6. Fill the tub or sink with water – just enough to cover the top of the plunger.
  7. Center the plunger over the drain and pump it several times to create a vacuum.  The suction will often loosen the clog and allow it to flow freely down the drain.  Some clogs, especially hair, will be sucked out of the drain.
  8. If a plunger does not clear the clog, try using a plumbers snake (available at most hardware stores) to work through the clog and either dislodge it or pull it out.

Still no luck?  Call a professional to take care of the problem for you.  In addition to fixing the clogged drain, they can determine if anything more serious is going on that will give you bigger problems later.