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Your drain lines are meant to carry water and flushed human waste out of your home and into your main sewer line, which empties into the public sewer system. A clog in a small drain line will cause that individual drain to slow down or stop draining completely. In your main sewer line, a clog will slow down every drain in the home.

Neither situation is ideal, but luckily, you can prevent most drain and sewer line clogs with this five-step approach.

Step 1: Never Put Greasy Food Down the Kitchen Drain

Grease is a key component of many drain and sewer line clogs. Even if the grease does not immediately clog your kitchen drain, it may settle further down in the pipe and slow down multiple drains in your home. Grease clogs can grow over time, and they’re not just caused by pouring fat down the drain. Greasy sauces and foods can also contribute if you send them down the disposal.

Whether or not you have a garbage disposal, never send greasy or fatty foods or sauces down the sink drain. This includes butter, fatty meat trimmings, salad dressings, and creamy sauces.

Step 2: Stop Letting Hair Down the Shower Drain

Hair is another huge contributor to clogs. It gets wound into tight balls that are difficult to dislodge with a plunger alone. Some people try to keep hair out of the shower drain by paying attention and grabbing loose hairs before they go down the drain. But for each hair you catch, you miss many more. To more effectively catch hair, keep a hair catcher made from fine mesh in your shower drain at all times.

Step 3: Prevent Soap Scum From Forming

After grease and hair, soap scum is the next big contributor to clogs. If you have hard water, the minerals in the water will react with the soap to form sticky, slimy scum. Install a whole-home water softener to eliminate this problem, or switch to liquid soaps and body washes. Liquid soaps form far less scum than bar-style soaps.

Step 4: Have Your Drain Lines Cleaned Regularly

Many people don’t think to call the plumber until their drains slow down. However, you should have your plumber come clean your drain and sewer lines approximately every year and a half.

Your plumber can use a process called hydro jetting to remove all of the built-up grime from inside your drain pipes and sewer pipes. Powerful blasts of water will remove not only partially formed clogs, but also any tree roots that may be growing into your larger sewer lines.

Step 5: Use Copper Sulfate to Prevent Root Growth

Because tree roots are an instigator in almost all cases of clogged main sewer lines, you need to take an extra step to keep them at bay. Every couple of months, flush a generous handful — or about 1/2 cup — of copper sulfate crystals down one of your toilets. The copper sulfate is a safe herbicide that will kill any roots beginning to grow into your sewer line without harming the rest of the tree.

Do not wait until your drains start slowing down to use the copper sulfate. When the roots are small, they won’t cause any noticeable symptoms, and yet this is when the herbicide is most effective.

As long as you follow the five steps above, your drains should keep flowing freely, and you should not have to call your plumber to deal with an emergency clog. If you’d like to schedule a drain cleaning appointment, contact Billy Bell Plumbing Inc. Our hydro jetting services will leave your drain and sewer lines cleaner than ever.