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The most common reason that plumbers get called out is blocked drains. These can vary from indoor drains that run from a kitchen sink to the outside, or a drain from a bath, or an underground drain running from the house across the property, whatever the type of drain, the problems are quite similar and in many cases can be easily avoided, which means saving money but also reducing the risk of some serious damage.
Many of these ‘emergency plumbing’ calls could be quite easily prevented by greater care for your drains. The most-used drain is the one in the kitchen sink and that, unsurprisingly is the drain most often clogged.
Preventing this situation can be done by being careful about what gets emptied into the sink drain and by careful use of a safe biodegradable waste digester. Your plumber can give you more information on these products but basically this is a product which helps break down the fats and other organic matter that blocks the drain in the first place.
Kitchen sink blockages are usually caused by liquid fats, emulsified by warm dishwater and carried through the pipes. The water cools as it proceeds to the main sewer and leaves the fatty deposits along the way. A film of grease forms on the pipe wall, then another and another. Coffee grounds and bits of food add to this accumulation layer until the pipe becomes impassable.
To avoid this, pour excess grease into an old container such as a tin can and throw it out with the garbage, not down the sink drain. When using a food disposer, always let sufficient cold water run to carry the particles down and into the main line to prevent build-up in the smaller waste pipes.
Often dishwashers are connected into the same line, so make sure you clean out the filters in this regularly and don’t put too much food waste into that either.
In the event of a blockage, your first and most handy tool will be a “plumber’s friend,” or plunger; a large rubber suction cup with a plastic or wooden handle. Cup it tightly over the drain and plunge it vigorously several times. By the way, it’s best to have water in the sink to do this, so if the sink is empty, put an inch or so of water in it first, but if it is a double drain sink, make sure you seal the other drain to avoid back-splash and also help increase the pressure down into the pipe.
Kitchen sink drains can also be cleaned by removing the J-bend on the trap below the fixture. Carefully loosen the large nuts holding the J-bend in place, remembering to position a bucket or container beneath it to catch any waste water. If plastic fittings have been used be careful not to crack or split them by over enthusiastic use of a spanner or overtightening.
Once removed, clean out the pipework and preferably replace the rubber gaskets before re-assembling.
If you have any more questions feel free to post below, and I’ll do my best to answer them.
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