It may be OK to think “out of sight, out of mind” for some things, but if we don’t take care of our sewer system, everything might not stay out of sight. It may come back up through a floor drain or toilet. This is called a sewer backup.
Nobody wants a sewer backup to happen, so here are five ways to help keep them away:
1. No FOG in the drain.
The Problem: Fats, oils, and grease (FOG) may seem fine to go down the drain when they are liquid, but when they cool down, they become solid again. They stick to the sides of the sewer pipes and don’t let as much water through. They build up over time, and eventually clog your pipe.
What You Can Do: Keep the F.O.G. out of your drains. Instead, pour them in a jar or can that is OK to have hot liquids. Keep the container in a convenient place, which can be in your refrigerator or on the side of your stove (away from any heating elements). When the container is full, let all of the F.O.G. cool and solidify. Then, throw the container in the trash.
2. Only T.P. in the Toilet
The Problem: Items flushed down the toilet can create clogs in your pipe. Even products labeled “flushable” like tissues, wipes, and kitty litter may not dissolve before they cause problems.
What You Can Do: Throw any product other than toilet paper in the trash, not the toilet. Toilet paper is specifically designed to dissolve quickly, but large amounts can even cause problems. So, limit just how much T.P. you flush, too.
3. Place Plants Properly
The Problem: Thirsty tree roots can make their way into your sewer line in search of water. As they settle into their new oasis and continue to grow, they can end up blocking or even breaking the pipe.
What You Can Do: When you plant trees or shrubs on your property, think about where your sewer pipe is. Don’t plant above or near the sewer so that the pipe-water temptation is out of reach for the roots. If you already have plants with large root systems near your pipe, be sure to pay attention to No. 5.
4. Garbage Disposal
The Problem: Not everything can go down the garbage disposal. Just because it is called a garbage disposal does not mean it is a way to dispose of any garbage. If you put the wrong things or even too much of the right foods, you could end up causing or contributing to a blockage in your pipes.
What You Can Do: To prevent clogs in your pipes, avoid these tricky items for the disposal:
- Any non-food item;
- High-starch foods like rice, pasta, and potato peels; and
- Coffee grounds.
High-starch foods can form a thick paste that has trouble flowing through your pipes, and coffee grounds can stick around as sediment in your pipes.
Also, do not put too much down at one time. Instead, put small batches down with cold water running so that the food doesn’t become a large clump. Keep the water running for 10-15 seconds after turning off the disposal to help the bits of food flow through the system.
5. Yearly Inspection
The Problem: Blockages and clogs build up over time. Even breaks in your line usually start out as cracks before becoming a problem above the ground. Without keeping an eye on what’s happening in your line, you may not know if you have a problem.
What You Can Do: Just like you need an annual checkup with your doctor, your sewer line needs an annual checkup with a professional plumber. The plumber can clean the line and check it for any problems.