Preventing Clogs in the Pipes of Your Home

October 6, 2017

Whether your home is new or old, you may notice that occasionally the things behind the walls can get a little clogged. It’s never fun to deal with clogged plumbing, especially when it’s not something you see every day. You’ve probably used solutions a friend or family member has recommended to varying degrees of success. Maybe you’ve hired someone to fix the problem only to see it persist months later. This month, Bishop-Thiem has decided to outline some of the most common causes of pipe stoppage and to let you in on a few simple secrets you may not already have tried to solve the problem.

Plumbing is a complex network of pipes behind your house’s walls that carries your water and waste to and fro. It’s actually quite easy to forget about until something goes wrong… then it’s all you think about.

The causes of plumbing blockage can vary widely, but there are a few common causes that are good to consider.

Invading Tree Roots: The joints of your plumbing, where segments of pipes meet, are the weakest part and are often susceptible to outside forces, most commonly root systems of outside plants. Tree roots are the most pervasive, growing deep and strong, seeking out the nutrient-rich water that lives in your plumbing and creating a stopping point. If you suspect your plumbing was installed between 1920 and 1970, this may be the cause of your woes.

Crushed Concrete and Clay Pipes: Besides simply invading your pipes, tree roots are strong enough to even crush them. It’s not uncommon for sewer pipes to become encased by these root systems and for the outside pressure to become too strong for certain materials to withstand. As water flows through the inside of concrete and clay pipes, they grow weak due to erosion. With age, these pipes become brittle and more susceptible to damage.

Offset Pipes: Modern plumbing relies on the proper arrangement of its pipes. When concrete and clay pipes were originally installed, it was often done in sections of three, meaning that they have been more susceptible to shifting and settling ground over the years, getting pushed around and not precisely in a way that provides optimal flow.

Soap Build-Up: Soap’s that thing that’s supposed to be good for us. It keeps us clean, and when it goes down the drain, it’s out of our lives for good, right? Not necessarily. Like many materials, soap can cling to the inside of your pipes and deposit itself in ways that can limit the diameter of a waterway over time. It’s a slow process, but it can feel like a sudden change when you notice the change in your home’s drainage speed.

Grease Build-Up: Much like soap, grease will build inside of your pipes’ walls. However, unlike soap this is a much faster process. Oftentimes, grease is in a warm state when it is carried down a drain with hot water, but as it cools, it also solidifies. That’s not good!

Now that you know some of the problems, what can you do about it? Well, one of the first things to avoid is the use of chemical products. Although these products may promise the problem away, you’re actually creating a much more serious one. In addition to being less effective than the other solutions provided below, you will cause corrosive damage to your pipes.

Here are some steps that might help reduce the frequency of pipe clogging or further damage:

Reduce Solid Flow: Avoid allowing hair and spare food scraps from draining down your pipes by utilizing mesh covers that only allow water to pass through. Also, you should never flush anything down your toilet besides waste and toilet paper. Even if a product says it can be flushed, it can complicate the flow of your plumbing. Besides simply backing-up your plumbing, these clogs can also cause undue pressure and stress on your pipes, ultimately shortening their lifespan.

Soften Your Water: Some sources of water have high mineral contents. This hard water is a natural source of magnesium and calcium that can build in your pipes and lower its lifespan or further complicate an existing problem. Have your water source checked for water hardness information. If its above 140 parts per million, you may need to consider hiring a plumber to install a water softener to dissolve these mineral contents as they enter your home.

Reduce Water Pressure: Trust us. We know that strong water pressure can be nice. Sometimes there’s nothing better than powerful beams of water pouring on you in the shower. As pleasant as that warm shower sounds, stronger pressure causes greater stress on your pipes and should be lowered if the age of your plumbing has you concerned. Have your pressure measured. If it’s stronger than 85 psi, hire a professional to install a pressure reducer.

Unless a much larger problem exists in your plumbing, many of the issues listed above can be resolved by simply hiring a plumber to clear out any clogs in your sewer line with a snake. Similarly, always remember to have your septic system regularly pumped. Good plumbing health requires attention and care. Bishop-Thiem Septic Services is ready to be your partner in that endeavor.

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