The Essential Plumbing Resource For Homeowners

This Is Why You Need To Clean Your Drains Even If They Aren't Clogged

Cleaning drains in your home isn't something you really think about until one of them clogs and causes water to back up. However, you should think about those drains when they're not clogged because a little maintenance every couple of weeks can prevent those drains from becoming a problem. You really need to add cleaning the drains, either yourself or with the help of a plumber, to your list of regular chores. If you don't, those drains will continue to be a potential drain on your happiness and wallet.

You Don't Know Just How Blocked They Really Are

As water carries soap, food, and other materials down the drain, those materials can stick to the sides of the pipe. Sometimes that's because the materials themselves are sticky, like cold grease. Other times it's because the organic matter is contributing to the buildup of a biofilm that gradually gathers more and more gunk. And in bathroom drains, hair is usually in the mix.

The thing is, you never know how blocked those pipes are until they start slowing down the water that's trying to drain out of the sink through the pipe. Sometimes you don't get even that warning; the drain suddenly clogs up completely. By cleaning the drains regularly, you keep the drains open.

Film Forms Along the Sides of the Pipe and Attracts Insects

That biofilm layer is just as gross as it sounds. Not only is it a gunky layer that narrows the pipe and makes it harder for water to flow freely, but it can also attract insects. Drain flies and phorid flies are a couple of types that tend to like that film. Cleaning off the film isn't that difficult. Very hot water, baking soda, salt, vinegar (contrary to popular belief, you don't want to use bleach), and enzymatic cleaners all play roles in getting rid of the film and thus those insects.

Any Food Stuck in There Can Begin To Smell

From dinner put down the garbage disposal to cracker crumbs brushed off a shirt into the bathroom sink, any food going down a drain has the potential to get stuck (especially in that filmy gunk, which is another reason you want to clean that film off regularly). That food can rot and attract mold; in either case, the food can start to smell bad. The type of smell that makes you nauseous when you get even a whiff of it. Keep cleaning those drains, and you shouldn't have to worry about food odors.

For basic drain cleaning, you can use homemade formulas like baking soda and vinegar or get a commercial enzymatic cleaner. However, every few months, have a plumber clean out all the drains so that you are sure the drains are clear.