Household drains are a marvel of modern plumbing. The convenience they provide is often taken for granted until something goes wrong – and the drain won’t drain.

A soapy residue around the bath drain, a kitchen sink that’s oily, or water around a laundry floor drain – these are all indications of a slow drain. However, if you can take care of it before it becomes a clogged drain, you may be able to avoid extensive repairs.

Bath drains

The biggest enemies of the bath drain are hair and soap. Combined, they conspire to clog many a bath drain. If there’s someone (or two) with long hair in your household, it might be a good idea to install a hair-catcher in your bath and/or shower. This is a simple device which can fit over an existing drain cover, or one that replaces the existing drain cover, catching hair and other debris in a basket.

Kitchen sinks

A great deal of organic matter comes and goes through your kitchen during the process of food preparation.

Food waste

Having a garbage disposal is an obvious way to help prevent peelings and food scraps from clogging your drain – but even that has its limits. These disposals are not designed to handle vegetable matter that is fibrous, such as celery or cornhusks. These items can get tangled in the garbage disposal blades and keep them from grinding food waste properly – or perhaps stopping altogether. If your kitchen sink drain is slow, the problem may be with your garbage disposal.

Grease 

Another culprit is cooking grease. This congeals and clogs kitchen pipes – and over time, it could even clog your main sewage lines. It’s just never a good idea to put any kind of grease or fat down your drain. Instead, you can put small amounts of used oil into compost heaps (alongside those fibrous vegetable scraps!). Also, your local waste management and recycling companies may be able to take and properly process used cooking oils. (Check out where you can recycle cooking oil here: Earth 911.)

Universally slow drains

If all the drains in your house are slow, there may be another issue, such as invasive tree roots or other debris stuck in the main sewer line. In that case, a plumber should be called to investigate.

Remedies

The humble plunger is your first line of defense if a single drain is clogged or going slow. There are different plungers that are appropriate for kitchen sinks and bath sinks, so it’s important to use the right tool.

Another tool – a chemical drain cleaner – is generally not recommended for use with your slow or clogged drains. For one thing, if it doesn’t resolve your problem, you may be left with a sink full of hazardous liquid waste. Also, many older homes have delicate plumbing that can be actually damaged by the chemicals.

Keeping the lines clear

You can help keep your drains as well as main sewer lines clear by making sure they don’t have to accommodate hair, grease, and fibrous vegetable matter. It’s good for your drain hygiene – and good for your wallet!