We had a little set-back in the kitchen the other day – a clogged drain. What a nuisance, particularly for my husband who took it upon himself to clean it (thank you, Doug). Hot water didn’t work and the sink started backing up with more water. He put a bucket under the drain pipe and opened it up to clear the clog. Just going to say, it was not a pleasant sight. After he put it back together again, the drain ran smoothly. Yea for my handy man.
This experience led to find ways to avoid this issue again. Here are some ideas for sink maintenance and clog prevention for the kitchen and bathroom.
Avoid the problem in the first place.
1) Make sure grease and oil don’t go down the drain. Wipe out any grease or fats from your pans before cleaning them in the sink.
2) Use a strainer to stop bits of food and debris from going down the drain. This goes for bathroom drains, too, catching hair and soap before they go down the drain. Clean the strainer regularly.
3) Don’t put anything fibrous down the disposal. Things like banana and citrus fruit peels, celery, potato peels are examples of food that the disposal can’t handle. plumber said to avoid egg shells and coffee grounds, too.
4) Always run water while using the disposal
When clogs happen, avoid harsh chemicals and products.
1) Pour boiling hot water down the drain. A few pots may break down the clog. If you have pvc pipes, this is not a good strategy. The pipes are plastic and the boiling hot water may cause the connections to loosen.
2) Baking soda and vinegar can work as effective solvents. Pour ½ cup baking soda down the drain. If you have a double sink, plug one of the drains. Then put ½ cup of vinegar down over the baking soda. There will be bubbles, like your school volcano experiment. Cover the drain and let sit for ½ hour to dissolve the clog. Run hot water to rinse and hopefully this will clear the clog.
3) Remove the pea trap in the drain. This is a more complicated process and certainly doable by someone who’s handy around the house. Turn off the water, place a bucket under the drain, and unscrew the pipe. The drain should be clear and the backed up water in the sink will clear into the bucket. Clear the plug, wash the pipe thoroughly and put the drain back together. It’s a good idea to run hot water through the pipes again to clear any remaining residue.
If these steps haven’t worked, more options are to use a plunger made for sinks, a plumber’s snake or call a plumber.
Design for the Safe Kitchen Sink.
When designing a kitchen, choosing a sink is an important consideration. Shallow sinks provide two benefits. The first is that dishes can’t get piled up too high and will discourage leaving dirty plates unwashed. The second is that a shallow sink is easier to use. Reaching the dishes at the bottom doesn’t take as much strength than a deep sink, making it a safer option. 6″ to 9″ are the optimum depths for the kitchen, shallower for the bathroom.
Aging hands can get tired and stiff, making knobs hard to use. When choosing faucets, look for a single lever handle control or single touch faucet that is easy to use. Pull out sprayers are convenient when washing up.
Placement of kitchen faucets, soap dispensers and disposals can make a big difference. Consider putting the faucet on the side of the sink for easier access rather than having to reach across the sink. Adding a disposal seems almost automatic in today’s sinks, but they take up a lot of space under the sink. If you are designing the sink area for wheelchair access, make sure that your plumber is aware of your requirements. They will be able to figure out the best place for the disposal tank and pipes to go and avoid filling the open space needed for a wheelchair.
Temperature control valves will prevent the water getting too hot and will prevent scalding. Many faucets for kitchens, bathrooms and showers have these in place already, but it’s always a good idea to check before you buy
Prevention and regular maintenance are the best tactics to take for safety and avoiding accidents, and what we’ll be doing more of in the future.
Plumber graphic: The Coaching Tool Company