Did you know that in the early 1800s, people lived for only about an average of 35 years? Back then, proper sewage management and drinking water treatment methods didn’t exist yet. Within the last two centuries, though, life expectancy has more than doubled.
One of the biggest contributors to this longer life span is the introduction of plumbing. After all, plumbing systems gave rise to better sanitation and sewage management. Without these facilities, there would be no way to clean, bathe, and dispose of human waste.
However, plumbing woes, such as slow drains, can also give rise to diseases. After all, slow-moving drains can indicate plumbing clogs. Left unaddressed, these blockages can cause wastewater or sewage backups.
As such, it’s best you learn how to fix slow drains, or at the very least, troubleshoot them. We’ve shared a few guidelines below, so be sure to read on.
Table of Contents
1. Determine If You Have Multiple Slow Drains
All plumbing fixtures, including sinks and toilets, connect to an individual drain line. A P-trap, a pipe that resembles the letter “P,” then links to each of these drain pipes. Each P-trap attaches to a branch drain line, which then goes into an underground soil stack.
From the soil stack, your household plumbing waste then flows into the main sewer line. This is the point at which all your individual drains converge. Most sewer lines connect to a municipal sewer, but about 60 million US homes rely on private septic tanks.
With that said, blockages in the main sewer or septic tank can lead to multiple slow drains. Aside from sink and floor drains, these clogs can also result in toilets that take forever to flush.
The above are signs of septic issues or main sewer problems that warrant a call to a professional. You can check out this septic service to learn more about private sewage system pump-outs.
To determine if you have more than one clogged drain, try using multiple fixtures at the same time. Be sure to time this right, though, to avoid wasting water.
For example, before you use the toilet, have someone else standby at the kitchen sink to wash their hands. As they do this, flush the toilet and then quickly run the bathroom sink to wash your hands, too.
Monitor how fast the water drains from each sink and how long it takes for the toilet water to recede. If only one drain or just the toilet takes a long time, the issue is likely within an individual drain line.
If the kitchen sink and bath drains are slow, you likely have a clogged main sewer or septic system.
2. Gear Up
Before you start cleaning, make sure to don a face mask, gloves, goggles, and older clothes. The last thing you want is to get wastewater or sewage on yourself and your best shirt or jeans.
Not only is wastewater disgusting, but it also contains sewage. Sewage, in turn, can harbor at least 100 types of viruses. Wastewater is also home to other pathogens like parasites, fungi, worms, and bacteria.
3. Clean Your Mesh Sink Strainers
If you have slow-moving sink drains or floor drains, the problem may only be due to filthy mesh strainers. These keep debris out of drains, which means that they can get clogged themselves. If this happens, they can interrupt the flow of water, so you end up with sluggish drains.
Fortunately, most of these sieve-like components are removable for ease of cleaning. Lift them by their outer edges and pop them out of the drain.
Once out, take the drains to your garbage bin and remove as much of the build-up as you can. You can give the strainers a few whacks by the edges, but be careful, as these can be quick to go out of shape.
If smaller particles remain, you can submerge the strainers in some soapy water. This should also help get rid of dried, caked-up debris.
Once your mesh strainers are all clear, place them back into the drains. Try pouring some water down the drain to see if this did the trick.
4. Plunge or Snake That Clog Out
If you only have one problematic drain, you can try using a plunger or a plumber’s snake or auger first. If you don’t have either, consider buying one of each, as you can use these for future isolated plumbing woes. A plunger costs only about $10 to $20 a piece, while a basic auger costs around $25 on average.
Depending on how big the clog is, it may take your plunger or auger a few times. If you’re going to use an auger, be careful of its sharp, hooked, or bladed tip. Improper use can scratch away at your fixtures, or worse, injure you with cuts or punctures.
5. Get in Touch With a Local Plumber
If none of the DIY approaches work, or if you have multiple slow drains, it’s time to call a plumber. Bigger clogs may have almost or completely blocked off the narrow insides of the drain pipes. Regular plungers and augers may not be strong enough to dislodge larger blockages.
Professional plumbers use longer-reaching augers and rooter equipment to unclog pipes. They may also use hydro-jetters, which are powerful machines that use high-pressure water. Hydro-jetters produce concentrated water jets to clear obstructions in drain pipes.
Also, as mentioned above, multiple clogged drains often indicate main sewer blockages. Aside from incorrect waste disposal, tree root encroachment can also be the culprit. This occurs when tree roots wrap around and choke sewer pipes.
Professional plumbers can confirm encroachment issues with the use of plumbing cameras. This is far less obtrusive than digging just to verify if you have main sewer or septic system problems.
Keep Your Home Healthy by Keeping Drain Pipes Clog-Free
Slow drains can be a bane and pain, but they are usually the earliest signs of plumbing issues. For that reason, you’d want to address them as soon as you can; otherwise, they will only worsen. Having them fixed now will help keep more severe problems, such as wastewater backups, at bay.
Ready for more ways to keep your home in tip-top condition? Feel free to check out our other real estate and lifestyle resources then!