The thought of living without indoor plumbing, for any modern homeowner, is pretty much inconceivable. Why would anyone want to live that way? We get all the water we need from the various faucets throughout our home and our plumbing appliances are fed water directly. We have a drain and sewer system in place that disposes of all the wastewater in an effective, reliable, and hygienic way.
It’s easy to take this all for granted, and therefore, not pay much attention to what all we put or let go down our drains. This is particularly true in the kitchen. To care for your drains and to get the most longevity out of your plumbing system as possible, we urge you to follow the advice below.
Avoid Putting These Items down the Drain
There are some things that are safe, and others that are not, when it comes to what you allow your kitchen sink drain to handle.
- FOG: This stands for Fats, Oil, and Grease, and should never go down the drain! This type of waste starts off as a liquid when it is hot, but congeals as it cools off—and it will cool off as soon as it hits the pipes in your drainage system. This can and will result in serious clogs, so ensure to pour FOG into a disposable container and instead store it in the fridge or freezer (to avoid the smell) until you’re ready to dispose of it with your trash.
- Starchy Foods: If you have a garbage disposal in your kitchen sink, you might assume that rice, pasta, potato skins, and other starchy foods are fine to put down the drain. However, even though your disposal might not accrue damage due to these food items, they can clog the disposal up, rendering it ineffective. And if they get past the disposal, they can create a blockage in your drain pipes.
- Fibrous Foods: This one can actually damage your garbage disposal if you have one. This includes foods like celery stalks and cornhusks—they get wrapped up in the impeller blades of the system, causing strain and potentially breaking down the system—not to mention clogging up the drain.
Know the Signs of Drain Trouble
Of course, you’ll know if something is wrong with your garbage disposal, or if you have a drain clog that’s causing water to back up, but what about the more subtle signs? Other signs that you have drain trouble that needs attention (and possibly drain cleaning) include:
- Slow Drainage: Perhaps your water is draining from your kitchen sink, but not as fast as it used to or as quickly as you think it should. If this is the case, you most likely have a clog. Before you go reaching for the liquid drain cleaner you can get at pretty much any store, we want to mention—those products have chemicals in them that are very caustic, and long-term use can actually corrode your drainpipes, causing a much bigger problem than you started with.
- Foul Odors: Since your kitchen sink has to deal with food waste quite a bit, it’s possible that if any sort of blockage exists, that food waste didn’t get all the way through the drains. Professional drain cleaning is usually the answer to relieving your kitchen sink of foul odors—although if it’s from a recent meal, then a mixture of baking soda, vinegar, and running hot water might do the trick!