Kitchen & Bath Plumbing

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Kitchen & Bath Plumbing & Drain Management

A home’s drain system is one of the most overlooked systems in the home. It is out of sight/out of mind until there is a problem. Although it appears to simply be pipes connected together, it is actually a complex system designed to provide a seal to prevent sewer gases from entering the home, removes solid wastes and removes waste water. Unlike the toilet, the other drains typically found in the home (Kitchen, Bathrooms, Laundry Room, Mud Room) are designed to manage waste water and not solid wastes.

The home owner has the ability to control this system in many ways before having to call in professionals.

How does a drain become blocked?

  • Short term
    • Excessive amount of solid waste put down drain
    • A foreign object put down the drain that is too large to pass
    • Grease is put down the drain and settles in the trap
  • Long term
    • Biofilm and/or fungal growth in piping
    • Settling of particulate matter over time
    • Build up of materials such as food or hair

Quick Tips for the Home Owner:

Sinks or Lavatories – General

  • Do not put grease down the kitchen drain as it can solidify and cause plugging.
  • Pour cooking grease into an empty coffee can or something similar.
  • When it becomes full, toss it in the trash.
  • Even if you use a garbage disposal, uncooked vegetables such as carrot and potato peels, broccoli stems, corn cobs or husks, asparagus, other fibrous fruits and vegetables, are best disposed of in the compost pile or the non recycling trash.
  • Don’t wash coffee grounds, tea bags or egg shells down the sink. Remove paper and toss the rest in the compost pile or the non recycling trash.
  • Pasta and rice may not pass through the garbage disposal -add to disposal slowly while running water. They are best disposed of in the compost pile or the non recycling trash.
  • Minimize the organic solid wastes (ie food) that are put down the kitchen drain. Follow with water to flush the pipes.
  • Do not put materials that cannot decompose down any drain.  Do not allow hair to go down the lavatory drain if possible – remove from the lavatory and dispose of in the trash.
  • The performance of system can be improved by regularly applying a mixture of baking soda and vinegar or an organic type drain cleaner.  It is a good practice to periodically fill the sink with water and then release it to flush your piping.
  • Harsh drain cleaners are not recommended – they are poison, give off harmful fumes when used, can harm skin and eyes and can damage some types of pipes.

Safety precautions if you choose to use chemical drain cleaners:

  • Always follow the manufacturer’s directions.
  • Drain openers can corrode a garbage disposal, brass, steel, “metal” or cast-iron traps and drainpipes.
  • Don’t look down the drain after pouring a chemical. The solution often boils up and gives off toxic fumes.
  • Don’t mix chemicals or follow one brand with another brand without reading for compatibility. Mixing cleaners can cause an explosion.
  • Wear rubber gloves to prevent the chemical from burning your skin.
  • Wear safety goggles to protect your eyes.
  • Never use a plunger if a chemical cleaner is present in the drain; you risk splashing the chemical on yourself.
  • Never remove a trap with chemicals present; you risk burns to your skin. Call a professional but make certain you inform them of what chemical you used.
  • If an article such as jewelry is dropped down the drain, turn the paddle to the by-pass position to trap the article to prevent loss. With the water turned off, rotate the article to the 3 o’clock position for removal.

This type of system has fewer options for the home owner to maintain it.

  • If the drain becomes slow or plugs, apply baking soda and vinegar mixture or an organic drain cleaner.
  • If the cleaner does not solve the problem, then the J-bend in the P-trap will need to be removed for cleaning or replacement – this can be done by the home owner.
  • Place a pan or bowl beneath the J-bend before removal to catch spilled water.
    After removal, plug the pipe going into the wall so sewer gasses will not enter the home – this can be done with a rag or commercial plug.
  • The adjoining pipes should also be cleaned at this time to prevent future problems.
  • If an article such as jewelry is dropped down the drain, turn off the water to prevent loss. The trap will need to be disassembled for removal.

Toilets

Toilets are designed to dispose off both waste water and solid wastes. However, foreign objects such as tooth brushes, toys, or other objects can block the siphon area of the toilet.

  • Regular cleaning of the toilet bowl can be done with vinegar and baking soda – spray sides with vinegar, pour one cup of vinegar in bowl, sprinkle brush with baking soda and scrub.
  • Most foreign objects cannot be removed with a plumbers snake – they must be removed by hand by reaching into the toilet bowl or the toilet must be removed.

Bathtubs and showers

These systems are largely inaccessible to the home owner. Preventative maintenance is the best policy.

  • Remove hair from the strainer in the shower and dispose of in the trash
  • Treat the drain regularly with baking soda and vinegar.
  • If the drain becomes slow or plugs, apply baking soda and vinegar mixture or an organic drain cleaner.
  • Remove the strainer or stopper and try to remove as much material as possible with a wire.

Regular maintenance or your drainage system will prevent emergencies such as blocked drains, potential flooding, injuries from drain opening chemicals, and save you money on service calls.

Content provided by:  PF WaterWorks

 

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