WFMW: Save Money on a Plumber

Here’s a few tips to help you NOT have to call Roto-Rooter to clear a drain in your home after hours.  Some of these things I knew (and thus, didn’t do) and some of them I didn’t know (obviously, or the call to Roto-Rooter would not have happened). 

I’ll start with what I already knew…

1. Run your disposal using cold water only.  This prevents you from letting liquid fat go down the drain and solidify in your pipes when disposing of fatty foods.

1b. Never let liquid fat (i.e. the kind you drain off hamburger meat) go down your drain…drain it into a can and throw it away.

2. Use plenty of water while you’re running the disposal and after running it to make sure food goes all the way through the pipes.

3.  Don’t put large amounts of potato peels or any other fruit/vegetable skin down the drain at one time.  Not good.

What I learned:

1.  Never, never put cabbage or lettuce down your disposal.  It expands when it gets wet, and it causes the drain to become clogged.  This is bad.

2.  Use an enzyme to clean out your pipes, not an acid-based drain cleaner.  You can get a half gallon or so of this stuff at Lowe’s for less than $10.  When you’re there, ask someone what you need…the bottle isn’t marked “enzyme” so it isn’t obvious which one you’ll want.  However, it’s located with the other drain cleaners. An enzyme continues to eat at what’s in your pipes, much like stomach enzymes digest food. Now there’s a pretty picture.

3. Pretty much just use your disposal for scraps, and not for any large amount of food.  I always thought that if you put it down a little at a time and used plenty of water, it would be fine.  That would be wrong.  Our really nice Roto-Rooter man said that you should just throw it away, which he realized goes against my (and many other peoples’) inclination to not put stuff in the trash if you don’t have to.  Obviously, if you have a compost pile, that’s a viable option, but we don’t.  And won’t.  So any large amount of food from now on goes in the trash can (not that this happens often, but if something gets forgotten in the fridge…)

So, maybe all of you already knew all of this, and I just missed out…but I suspect I am not the only one who thought some of these things!

As always, more great tips at Rocks in my Dryer!

7 responses to “WFMW: Save Money on a Plumber

  1. uh oh. i do just about everything you say not to. good post.

  2. OK, I learned a couple things here. I had no idea it was bad to put a large amount of food down the disposal (#3 from your 2nd list); like you said, I thought it was fine as long as it was shoved down a little at a time.

    Also didn’t know anything about using an enzyme drain cleaner. Does that apply to bathroom drains as well as kitchen drains?

    And, actually, #1-b: I knew it wasn’t particularly great to drain hamburger fat down the disposal, but I thought it was “sorta OK” if you made sure to run cold water down w/ it really thoroughly and run the disposal well. I need to do better with this.


  3. Ditto everything Jo just said! Oops! and Thanks!

  4. Passing this along from my husband: soap digester is great too. If you have a slow bathroom sink try it. The liquid hand soap builds up over time and clogs the drain. If this is a problem for you switch to the foamer hand soap pump and it won’t build up so bad. I found that I needed it down my laundry drain when I switched to a front loader because I should have used way less soap. A kettle of boiling water down drains occasionally also helps keep them flowing. I boil extra for tea and pour it down the drain and it has never clogged in fifteen years.

  5. We learned the hard way on the potato peels….now I just put them straight in the trash!…..and because of that incident, we always put large amounts of food in the trash can. Didn’t want to go through the first problem twice 🙂

  6. Thanks for the info, katmaxx!

    Jo, the enzyme works for any drain, too.

  7. Gracious – at least I’m not alone doing all the wrong things. We’ve just moved into a house with our first garbage disposal in 10 years. I have a lot to learn!

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