How often do you think about your building’s plumbing system? If it is working as expected, you probably haven’t thought about it. If more than one of your residents has complained about a clogged shower, overflowing toilet, or slow-moving sink, you might be wondering about the state of your multi-unit residential building’s plumbing system. The truth is that even if you aren’t experiencing problems right now, a lack of maintenance can lead to problems in the future, and it starts with what your residents are pouring down their drains.

What Are Your Residents Pouring Down Their Drains?

In large residential buildings, like apartment complexes, condos, and co-ops, residents and employees tend to think that the drainage systems are more robust, and they may send liquids, foods, and other items down the drains that they wouldn’t put in the drain of a residential home. This, unfortunately, is faulty thinking and can lead to numerous clogged drains and wastewater backups.

Be Proactive and Inform Your Residents How to Prevent Clogged Drains

The number one thing you can do for the maintenance of your drain lines is to inform your residents what can and cannot be put down the drains.

  1. Cat Litter – Cat litter should never be flushed down a toilet. It contains sand and silica as well as other drain-clogging components.
  2. Certain Paper Products – Feminine hygiene products, towelettes, face wipes, sanitizing wipes, paper towels, and q-tips should never be put down the drains or flushed down a toilet. These items don’t dissolve or disintegrate as fast as toilet paper, meaning they can become stuck in the pipes.
  3. Eggshells – Eggshells should always be thrown away in the trash and never put down the kitchen drain, even if it contains a garbage disposal. This is because the residue on the eggshell can stick to pipes, attracting other types of debris and lead to a clog.
  4. Fruit and Vegetable Rinds – Fruit and vegetable rinds can be very fibrous. The strings and rough edges can catch inside the drain line instead of flowing into the municipal waste system, resulting in nasty clogs.
  5. Rice and Beans – Rice and beans both swell when they are exposed to water, whether they are cooked or not, and your drain pipes receive a lot of water. If enough rice and beans are poured down sink drains, they can lead to clogs that will need to be removed by a professional plumber in Chicago.
  6. Flour – All types of flour, including rice and almond flour, get sticky, turning into a paste when wet. This paste can stick to your wipe walls and attract other items, like tissue paper, which could lead to partially or fully clogged plumbing pipes.
  7. Pasta – Spaghetti, egg noodles, and other types of pasta swell when they are exposed to water, and this is true whether the pasta is dry or cooked. Not to mention, wet pasta is extremely sticky. It can stick to the blades of the garbage disposal and the sides of the drain pipes, leading to slow mowing drains and clogs.
  8. Grease, Fats, and Oil – Grease, fats, and oil, including vegetable oils, all cool as they move through the drain system, and they eventually stick to the sides of the drain pipes, and once stuck, it can catch other objects flowing down the drain lines.
  9. Meat Trimmings – Even if the kitchen sink is equipped with a garbage disposal, meat trimmings should never be put down the drain. The effect on the plumbing pipes is very similar to when grease is poured down the drain.
  10. Coffee Grounds – Coffee grounds should always be thrown away in the trash and not rinsed down the drain. This is because the grounds are hard on garbage disposals, and they can get stuck in the bottom of your drain pipes, especially around joints and seams.
  11. Strings and Hair – Residents should do their best to avoid letting hair and strings flow down their drains. Thread, yarn, floss, and other strings should not be put down the drains, and hair traps should be used in showers and bathtubs.
  12. Paint – Paint, paint thinner and artistic oils should never be poured down a drain. These items can coat plumbing pipes and make the surfaces rough. Once your interior pipe walls aren’t smooth, they can attract other debris leading to clogs, and the only way to correct pain clogged pipes is to have them removed and replaced.
  13. Medications – Pills and liquid medications aren’t likely to clog your drains unless thousands of pills are dumped into the sink or toilet. However, pills can negatively affect the environment, and most water treatment plants aren’t equipped to remove the residual medications from the water supply. This means that those medications can get into the drinking water, so for the health of your community, it’s a good idea to remind your residents not to flush their unused pills. Instead, they can take them to a pharmacy for disposal.

Be Proactive When It Comes to Informing Your Residents About Proper Drain Use and Hazardous Item Disposal

When new residents move into your building, it may be a good idea to provide them with a pamphlet that explains proper drain use. You can include it in the other move-in materials, like utility services, HOA, and lease information. The pamphlets should explain what can and cannot go down the drains and how to properly dispose of items that cannot be put down the drains. For example, meat scraps, oil, and grease can be put into old food jars. Once the jar is full, your resident should cap it and throw it away in the trash. Small jars of paint, like those used for making art, can be thrown away once the jars and bottles are empty. Large amounts of paints and paint thinners should be taken to a hazardous waste disposal site.

Don’t Skimp on the Professional Plumbing Help

No matter how diligent the occupants of your building are when it comes to knowing how to prevent clogged drains and implementing that knowledge, you may still experience clogged drains. This is because some drain clogging items cannot be prevented, including hair, soap, grease, lard and oil, paper towels, Kleenex, meat scraps and certain types of fruit rinds. You could also experience clogs and slow drains if your plumbing system is old. Over time, even drain lines can clog and corrode, which reduces the internal diameter of the pipe. Once the internal diameter is restricted, the water flow is reduced. This can lead to other items getting stuck in the partially clogged sections. Not to mention, if the pipe usage becomes heavy, it can lead to a drainpipe and sewer backup.

Here at Nu Flow, serving Chicago, we can help you keep your drains clog-free with epoxy pipe lining that includes inspecting and hydro jetting your drain lines. In fact, we performed an epoxy pipe lining of severely corroded drain pipes at the White Sox home field. The drains had been severely corroded due to soda, beer, and grease. After a pipe inspection, our team of pipelining experts were able to come up with a solution to clean the pipes and line them.

Like Guaranteed Rate Field, your multi-story residential drain lines can be restored with an epoxy pipe liner, and once the liner has cured, the only maintenance you will need is the occasional hydro jet cleanout to help keep your drains flowing and prevent clogs.

To learn more about epoxy pipe lining for drain lines, contact us at 815-790-9000.