Here are some ideas to keep your water — and your life — flowing smoothly.
Check the angles. As you’d imagine, drains should flow downward. But for one reason or another — maybe your house has settled or someone’s done bad work in the past — a portion of the run may end up with a non-existent slope.
Watch what you put there. Basket drain plugs are designed to stop solid objects from going down the drain; don’t leave them on the counter.
Never pour grease down the drain. Wipe off as well as possible with paper towel, then rinse with very hot water, leaving the water running for a moment. Running hot water — or a dishwasher — for a few minutes on a regular basis will keep grease out.
Don’t ignore the warning signs. If drainage has been gradually getting worse, it’s a sign of increasing buildup.
If you do get a sudden clog, there’s a good chance it’s in the drain trap. Look under the sink and remove the plug with a wrench. If the problem’s further down, it’s time to call in the snake. A plumber’s snake is a length of flexible metal with an auger at one end. You insert it in the drain, sliding the adjustable handle along the snake until you reach an obstruction. Then lock the handle and use it to turn the auger. This gets you by most elbows and will dig through the buildup when you reach it. If you’re lucky, you have cleanout plugs above all horizontal runs.
You might think your last resort is chemical drain cleaner. Heavy duty drain cleaner might slowly work on the problem, but it can take hours, filling your house with dangerous fumes and damaging stainless steel sinks if it backs up.