Clogged pipes? 8 Plumbing pipe problems to avoid

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If the kitchen sink won't drain, or your bath water takes an hour to go down, you've got some plumbing...

If the kitchen sink won't drain, or your bath water takes an hour to go down, you've got some plumbing pipe problems. Clogs can creep into your pipes and cause homeowner headaches overnight. Here are eight of the most popular reasons your pipes aren't functioning properly.

1. Jammed garbage disposal
Although the garbage disposal attached to your kitchen sink is designed to grind food waste into small bits and flush it away--all foods aren't disposal-safe. If you stand over the sink to peel sweet potatoes to make a pie, stop! Any type of potato peelings are an instant drain-clogger. The sticky starches in potato peelings cling to the walls of your garbage disposal and the pipes below. After rinsing just a few handfuls of peels down the garbage disposal, you may experience a back-up of water from the clogged pipes. Leafy greens such as collard greens and spinach also clog drains.

2. Overgrown tree roots
If you have large, sprawling trees close to the house, you run the risk of roots growing into and through your plumbing pipes. At first you may notice a lingering odor coming from your drains from a build up of waste water behind the clog. Some homeowners have to routinely have tree roots removed from plumbing pipes. Or, consider removing the tree so the roots will stop growing.

3. Rusting pipes
Older southern homes may have copper plumbing pipes. Although this option keeps hot water hot until it reaches its destination, copper can rust. Old copper pipes with bends or elbows may accumulate a build-up of rust and slow your water flow to a trickle. If you notice a decrease in water pressure while washing dishes, running a bath or relaxing in the shower, a build-up of rust may be to blame. It's time to talk to a plumber about updating your pipes to corrosion-resistant PVC or PEX pipes.

4. Flushed objects
To children, the toilet is a play toy. Drop a toy in, press the magic handle and "Wooosh!" the toy disappears. If your toddler's entire set of building blocks has come up missing, and he eagerly points to the toilet when you ask about the blocks, you have a clog coming. It's best to keep the toilet lid latched and remind everyone in the home that only toilet tissue and bodily waste get flushed. Don't flush feminine hygiene products, baby wipes, cigarette butts or paper towels. These can clog the delicate waste system. If you have a septic system, make sure to regularly add digesting bacteria to the system to keep waste moving smoothly through the system.

5. Hair build-up
Although you only lose a few hairs each time you reach for the shampoo, hair accumulates. Balls of hair commonly clog bathtub, shower and sink drains. Install a small drain basket to collect hair, and remember to empty it after each time you wash your hair. Small pieces of soap, nail clippings, hair care products and even trimmings from shaving can clog a drain.

6. Clogged floor drain
A basement floor drain is a safety feature of your home. But if you route a dehumidifier drain hose or washing machine drain hose to your floor drain, make sure you have a drain basket in place. Since the drain is open, dust from the basement also gets washed away. If you have a woodworking area in the basement, fine particles of sawdust can settle in the drain and cause a clog.

7. Food grease
When you fry bacon or make a batch of fried chicken, how do you dispose of the used oil or liquid fat? If you pour it down the kitchen drain, you're asking for trouble. As the fat cools, it turns into a solid and quickly clogs your drain. Instead, pour fats over a bowl filled with paper towels, let it cool and then dispose of the soaked paper towels in the garbage. Sure a little butter or bacon fat left on dishes that you're washing won't hurt, but pouring liquid fat into the drain is a no-no.

8. Coffee grounds
Old, used coffee grounds take on a rancid odor. That's why it seems so handy to rinse them down the kitchen drain. But, coffee grounds are known for their pipe-clogging abilities. Instead, toss the grounds in the garbage, save them to fertilize potted plants, add them to a compost pile or use them in the garden. Coffee grounds don't belong in any plumbing pipes.

Tired of trying to plunge, snake or dissolve a clog? Give a professional plumber in the Atlanta area a call to solve your plumbing pipe problems.

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