Hello and question on alternatives for slow running drains?

loris(Z6 NJ)February 4, 2007

Hello. I was glad to see this on the list of new forums. By some people's standards I'm green, but I'm sure by many people's standards I'm not. I am very concerned about the environment and trying to learn about this topic, and be greener than I am now.

I'm hoping somebody here will have ideas about safer alternatives for dealing with slow running drains. If it's for a commercial product I'm hoping it's one you actually have experience with.

Thanks. -- Lori

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gardener_sandy

If the clog seems to be in just one sink, take off the trap (the "U" shaped piece of pipe below the sink) and clean it out. That's where most grease and debris collects. If that doesn't help, or if more than one drain is slow, the clog is probably beyond the reach of any home remedy and may need professional help. Many plumbing companies have a drain cleaning tool that doesn't use chemicals. Or if you're especially handy, you might be able to rent one from a local hardware store.

Once the drains are clean, a weekly dose of vinegar and baking soda followed by a rinse with very hot water will keep most drains free running.

I stopped using chemical drain cleaners of any kind many years ago when I realized how dangerous they were to the user. A splash in the eyes can be very serious.

    Bookmark   February 5, 2007 at 12:31AM
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aachenelf z5 Mpls

If it's just an ordinary slow running drain and nothing really serious, an ordinary plunger used with hot water works wonders. I make sure I plunge my drains every week or two and have not had any problems since.

Kevin

    Bookmark   February 5, 2007 at 4:40PM
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rocket_girl

Agree with the hot water approach. When a drain starts slowing, I pour a kettle of boiling water down the drain. This often clears up the problem.

    Bookmark   February 5, 2007 at 7:20PM
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mommyandme

Great ideas, but just one more thought. Which drain is clogged ? If it's the kitchen sink / dishwasher, try to be more careful about grease going down the drain. Even very small amounts add up. If it's the shower, it's a combination of hair & conditioner. Try to encourage family members to use less conditioner. Also, the tub drain is, at least in my house, covered by a circle of thin metal that's been perforated with many small holes. It has a screw in the middle. Lots of hair accumulates over this little circle & it's easy to wipe the hair up. Unfortunately, huge amounts of hair go right through the little holes & under the circular plate. If you unscrew the plate. you'll find a disgusting blob of hair & conditioner lodged on a crosspiece underneath. Pulling this out is not fun, but I find that doing it at least once a month has kept the shower drain in good working order and we no longer need to use drain cleaner.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2007 at 9:44AM
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steve_o(4a MN)

It doesn't work all that well for an already-clogged drain (though it does work), but those microbial drain cleaners that are out there do a good job of keeping drains clear. The microbes are non-toxic and biodegradable -- after they've chewed on the fats and proteins in your drains. And much easier to use than pulling globs of hair out of drains, especially in tubs where the drain makes this sharp turn right away.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2007 at 10:40AM
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loris(Z6 NJ)

The problem drains are the tub and sink in our master bath. DH deals with the slowness more than I have and he is fairly strong in some opinions as to what he doesnÂt want us trying , due to various concerns. I will try the suggestion of going after the hair in the tub under the circular plate. Before steve_o had posted, DH mentioned that in the past he had used an enzyme product with success, but hasnÂt seen it available near us lately. If anybody has a mail-order or internet source or a product name thatÂd be great. Thank you all for your responses!

Lori

    Bookmark   February 7, 2007 at 7:49PM
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althea_gw

I use Earth Enzymes drain cleaner regularly and find it works very well. Before I started to use this @ 5 years ago, I used to regularly take the bath & kitchen traps apart and clean them. I found I didn't need to after using the enzymes. There are other similar products, but his is the one I'm familiar with. I buy it at the co-op. I just did a google search -- no affiliation with or recommendation of this company selling it.

Here is a link that might be useful: earth enzymes

    Bookmark   February 8, 2007 at 7:37AM
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mommyandme

Thanks for the link !

    Bookmark   February 8, 2007 at 8:11AM
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loris(Z6 NJ)

Thanks althea! Looks good. -- Lori

    Bookmark   February 10, 2007 at 10:52AM
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steve_o(4a MN)

Checked my cupboard -- BioClean is another brand of enzymatic/microbial drain cleaner.

    Bookmark   February 10, 2007 at 11:48PM
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loris(Z6 NJ)

Thanks steve_o, I jotted that down. -- Lori

    Bookmark   February 11, 2007 at 3:02PM
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bry84(England)

I've found boiling water and soda crystals (sometimes called washing soda) excellent for clearing slow drains. It helps to leave it overnight.

    Bookmark   February 11, 2007 at 3:25PM
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loris(Z6 NJ)

Thanks bry84. For some reason though, DH seems to think the hot or boiling water methods may give us problems further down where they'll be harder to deal with. I honestly don't know, but since he'd probably be the one dealing with problems if they did occur, I won't press the point.

Lori

    Bookmark   February 11, 2007 at 7:44PM
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scrappyjack

Garden's Alive catalog has organtic drain cleaners. Might be worth a try.

http://www.gardensalive.com/product.asp?pn=1549&ss=drain%20cleaner

    Bookmark   February 27, 2007 at 8:53AM
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loris(Z6 NJ)

Thanks scrappyjack.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2007 at 7:19PM
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girlndocs(8 WA)

There is a mechanical drain cleaner called something like Zip It that we got at our big evil hardware store. It's a long (about 24") flexible plastic thing with a ring on one end and sharp barbs all down it. You stick it in the drain, use the ring to yank it back up, and the barbs pull up tons and tons of glop.

They say to dispose of it after one use but I don't see why you couldn't clean and store it as long as you're careful of those barbs.

Kristin

    Bookmark   March 2, 2007 at 7:31PM
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althea_gw

Kristin, do you mean a drain snake?

That is the second to the last restort here. The last resort is calling the plumber. After having to snake the kitchen drain once, I started cleaning the traps annually, and now use the enzymes instead.

    Bookmark   March 2, 2007 at 9:46PM
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jleek(5/ma)

been using this method for 40 years and nary a problem. I have a septic tank:

Pour 1/2 box of baking soda down drain and follow with 2-3 cups of vinegar. Pour slowly and it will fizz up and as it slows down pour some more. I see someone ese suggested this earlier and it is the best you can do for your plumbing and the enviroment. It is said that Cleopatra dissolved a string of beads in a cup of vinegar.-say enough??

    Bookmark   March 7, 2007 at 2:51PM
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loris(Z6 NJ)

Thanks Kristin and jleek.

jleek,

I'll run that idea past DH again, but I think he'll be tough to convince.

Lori

    Bookmark   March 11, 2007 at 12:03PM
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girlndocs(8 WA)

No, it's not the same as a drain snake -- we have one of those too. It's lightweight, plastic and about 2 feet long, IIRC. It's mainly good for getting out clogs caused by hair and things that get trapped not-too-far into the drain; not for really far down like a snake would be.

Kristin

    Bookmark   March 12, 2007 at 3:00AM
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Carol_from_ny

They make covers for the drains that allow water thru but not hair. Well worth the few bucks they cost.
For sink drains I had a tip given to me by a plumber. He says to fill both sides of the sink with hot water once a week and then open them up at the same time and let the water drain. It will help clean out the grease that builds up from washing dishes. I got this tip about 20 yrs. ago and have used it. NEVER have had a clogged kitchen drain since.
BTW I usually use hot water from the food I cooked on one side and from the washed dishes on the other so I'm not burning fuel to keep my drains clean.

    Bookmark   March 12, 2007 at 10:24PM
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loris(Z6 NJ)

Thanks Carol

    Bookmark   March 17, 2007 at 12:14PM
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