Home Drain Cleaning Tips

Drains never clog at a convenient time, they only seem to back up right before the in-laws are scheduled to visit or the big dinner party is on the calendar. It may not be possible to predict drain blockage, but it is certainly possible to prevent it. As with all of the systems in your home, regular maintenance can prevent larger, more expensive problems in the future.

Regular drain maintenance can be done by any homeowner, utilizing readily available household materials.

Run Hot Water

You should routinely run hot water through your drains, ideally after every use. Run water at the hottest available setting for at least 30 seconds. Or boil water in a tea kettle and pour it down the drain.

Baking Soda

Pouring a few tablespoons of baking soda down your drain regularly can help cut through grease and reduce odor. Let the baking soda sit for up to 30 minutes before washing it down with hot water.


Utilize coarse salt, such as ice cream salt for your drains. The granular texture can help scrub the interior of the pipes and the salt can help cut through grease and build up. Don’t let the salt sit for too long or it may cause its own problems with buildup and corrosion.

Here are other helpful hints to keep your drains clean and clog-free.

  • Don’t pour grease down the drain! Put it in a disposable container and place it in the trash.
  • Be aware of fibrous vegetables. Broccoli, asparagus, and carrots will not break down in a drain.
  • Put the coffee grounds in your garden. Coffee grounds, tea bags, and eggshells are great for the compost pile but terrible for the drain.
  • Use a trap in shower drains to catch hair. Put the hair in the trash can when you clean the drain.

If your drain is clogged, some of the same household products that you use to clean it can also help open up the clog.

  • Reach for the plunger! The old faithful home plumbing tool can come in handy for pushing clogs through sink and shower drains.
  • Use a metal coat hanger. Surprisingly simple, but effective. Uncoil the hanger and utilize the curved end to try and remove the clog.
  • Baking soda and hot water can help dissolve grease buildup. Avoid baking soda and vinegar. These elements work well for the science fair, not the sink.

Deeper rooted problems

Tree roots can penetrate pipes and create blockages. The depth of these blockages often requires the use of a plumbing snake to free the clog. Your local hardware store has products that can kill tree roots and prevent blockages. Left untreated, tree roots can crush pipes and cause larger (more expensive) problems. If your home was built in the 1960s, it may have been designed utilizing Orangeburg piping. This style of piping is comprised of layers of wood pulp. Orangeburg piping has not been used in construction for years but is still found in existing homes in Topeka and Lawrence. It is particularly prevalent in areas of Topeka that had to be rebuilt following the 1966 tornado. If your home has Orangeburg piping, replacement is the only option to guarantee the performance of your home’s plumbing system.

McElroy’s team of exceptional craftsmen are available 24/7 to help with any plumbing needs. From drain cleaning to pipe replacement, McElroy’s has been the most trusted name for plumbing in Topeka and Lawrence since 1951.

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