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Drain Cleaning FAQs

Posted on March 5th, 2018

If you are having issues with your sink or tub not draining, a clog in your pipe is most likely the culprit. Clogs can be caused by grease, debris, food, hair, soap, sludge and even tree roots. Read on to have all your drain cleaning questions answered and visit our drain cleaning page to learn more about the services Plumbing & A/C Medic offers in the Phoenix Metro area. 

Water Going Down Drain | Drain Cleaning Gilbert

Signs You Need Drain Cleaning

Slow Draining: Before drains become clogged, they will typically start to drain slower than usual. You will especially notice this in your bathtub and sinks.

Overflowing Toilets: If your toilet is overflowing when you flush, it most likely has a blockage. First, try using a plunger. If the overflowing continues, there is most likely a clog deeper into the pipe that needs further attention.

Water Backing Up: Water is supposed to go down the drain so if water is coming up the drains, something is definitely causing a block. A professional should be called immediately before the water backflow becomes worse and leads to a flood.

Bad Odors: If rotting smells are coming from the drain, there is most likely something stuck in the pipe. It could be anything from food particles, sludge, to a small rodent that could have gotten trapped in the drain. Be sure not to ignore these smells because bacteria can be accumulating in the drain that can lead to illness.

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Q: Are Commercial Drain Cleaning Products Safe to Use?

Commercial drain cleaners can be damaging to your pipes, family’s health as well as the environment.

Your Health: Liquid drain cleaners tend to release gases that are dangerous to breath in. The fumes emitted by chemical drain cleaners are known to irritate people’s lungs, nose and eyes. The fumes tend to linger even after the drain cleaner has made its way through the pipes. If you are using them, avoid mixing different types of products and be sure that the room is well ventilated.

Pets: If you have pets in your home, the cleaners can be poisonous to their health. Puddles left in the sink, tub or toilet that come in contact with your pet can be dangerous so be sure no traces of the cleaner are left on surfaces. Also, keep pets away from the room you’re using the chemicals in to avoid them breathing in the fumes.

Environment: Beyond your home, these chemicals can also be harmful to the environment. The hazardous substances found in commercial drain cleaners can end up in landfills and bodies of water, wreaking havoc on the environment.

Pipes: Commercial drain cleaners contain hydrochloric acid – a highly corrosive substance that can actually eat away at your pipes. If any of the cleaner accidentally gets on your bathroom fixtures, it could ruin those surfaces as well. As the commercial drain cleaner enters your septic system, it can cause damage there too. If you still plan on using these harmful cleaners, be aware of these ingredients: Sodium Hydroxide, Sulfuric Acid and Lye, which are tell-tale signs of a cleaner that will be harsh on pipes.

Q: Are There Any Drain Cleaning Products That Are Not Harmful?

Luckily, there are alternative solutions to generic drain cleaners! BioOne products contain cultures that naturally eat away at fat, oil, grease and organic waste. Best of all, BioOne products benefit the environment because they are free of chemicals. For more of their environmentally friendly products, visit their website. Similarly, you can create drain cleaners using household products, explained below.

Q: Can I Make A Drain Cleaner At Home?

Here are 3 homemade drain cleaners you can try as an alternative to the harmful chemical cleaners available in stores. The following methods will typically work for smaller clogs, but of course there is no guarantee!

Baking Soda & Vinegar: Most of us have these basic ingredients at home! Pour 1/4 cup of baking soda into the clogged drain, and follow with a 1/2 cup of white vinegar. (It will foam up a little bit, which is normal, so don’t be afraid!) Do this once a month to keep your drains clear and fresh.

Boiling Water: This natural drain cleaning method is devoid of any ingredients other than water. Bring water to a boil, carefully carry the kettle over to your drain in distress, and pour it in three stages. This will allow the hot water to do its job in between every pour.

Baking Soda, Salt & Cream of Tartar: Mix 1/4 cup of each ingredient together in a small container. Shake it up and pour into your backed up drain. Follow with about 2 cups of boiled water, then rinse with cool water. This should make a huge difference!

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Q: Can I Use a Drain Snake to Clear a Clogged Drain?

The simple answer is yes, but proceed with caution. The snake can actually cause further damage by pushing the clog deeper into the pipe, if done incorrectly.

Q: What Is Rooter Service?

“Rooter” has become a common term used when referring to a drain cleaning machine. Originally, a rooter machine was used to clear drains that were blocked by tree roots that had grown into or wrapped around the pipes. In addition to clearing tree roots, a rooter service can clear other types of stubborn and deep clogs caused by food debris, coffee grounds, grease, soap scum, toilet paper, feminine products, paper towels and other items.

When sewer lines or septic lines are clogged, rooter services may be necessary in order to clear the lines that are located underground. A professional can determine exactly what type of service you need and which type of drain cleaning tools will be necessary.

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Q: What Is the Difference Between a Rooter and Hydro Jet?

A rooter is essentially a machine auger that cuts through blockages. Whether your drains are blocked with gunk or the sewer line is root bound, this type of service can resolve the problem. A hydro jet on the other hand, uses a blast of water at a very high pressure to remove blockages. A hydro jet can easily remove clogs and buildup due to mineral deposits, soap scum and hair. However, it may not as easily cut through heavy tree roots.

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Q: How Can I Prevent Clogged Drains?

Throw Out Food Scraps: Leftover food can easily cause a blockage in your drain. Clearly, food should never be disposed of in your garbage disposal. Instead, be sure to toss any leftover food in the garbage. Grease, oil, coffee grounds, egg shells, starches, seeds and fruit pits should never go down the drain either!

Drain Screens: Did you know that hair is one of the leading causes for clogged drains in showers and bathtubs? To prevent this from happening, have drain screens installed. There are also simple drain screens you can purchase from places like Lowe’s and Amazon to put on top of your drain to avoid hair and other particles from going down the drain. Similarly, ensure you have a drain stop in your kitchen sink so that food and other particles are not making their way into the pipes.

Stay Away from Store Bought Drain Cleaners: As you peruse the aisles at a store, you may be tempted to buy a drain cleaning solution. However, most drain cleaners are filled with harsh chemicals that can damage your pipes over time.

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Q: Should Drains Be Regularly Cleaned?

Yes! Most homeowners only think about their drains when they’re slow or clogged. However, periodic drain cleaning will keep odors, emergencies and damage at bay. Periodic cleanings will be able to catch smaller clogs and remove otential debris in the pipes that could turn into larger clogs later on. Similarly, regular drain cleanings can help extend the longevity of your pipes.

Q: How Often Should Drains Be Cleaned?

Typically, an annual drain cleaning by a professional is adequate. However, this is not a steadfast number. There are several factors that determine how much water is going through the drains each day. The more people that are in a house, the faster that pipes are likely to build up hair, waste and other debris. Similarly, older pipes can require more frequent cleanings in order to ensure issues are not arising that could be a detriment to the entire plumbing system.

Why Choose Plumbing & A/C Medic?

  • Our fully-stocked trucks can be at your house in 60 minutes or less.
  • We offer honest emergency service 24 hours a day.
  • We charge by the job, not by the hour. Check our coupons for even more great savings!
  • We provide the highest quality work.
  • We warranty all of our drain work.
  • We have the latest technology.
  • We use green plumbing treatments.
  • Every drain cable includes a courtesy camera inspection.

Learn more about the drain cleaning and rooter services we provide.

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