When you turn on the water or flush the toilet, you expect things to go down the drain at a decent pace. If your water is just slowly seeping down the drain, then you have an issue. Whether or not it's a serious issue depends on several factors. Sometimes, the cause of slow drains is nothing more than hair and soap scum buildup. Other times, you might have a huge blockage or need your septic tank pumped. Read on to learn how to tell the most likely cause of your slow drains, and what to do about it.
Is it just one or two drains that are slow?
If only one or a few drains are slow, then you're not dealing with a major problem. Likely, there is just some grime buildup in the drain for that sink -- or in the case of several drains being slow, in a larger pipe that connects those drains.
While many homeowners turn to chemical drain cleaners to loosen such clogs, you're actually better off avoiding these if possible, since they can cause pipe corrosion and are also a danger to your health. Instead, start by pouring some boiling water down the slow drain. This should help loosen the offending material. If that does not work, a mixture of baking soda and vinegar may foam the grime away. Pour a small box of baking soda down the drain, follow it with a few cups of vinegar, and then wait a few hours before running the water.
If these methods do not get your drain working swiftly again, then it's time to call a plumber. They can use special tools to manually remove the grime from the inside of your pipes.
Are you connected to a public sewer?
If you are connected to a public sewer and all of your drains are running slowly, then there is likely an issue either with one of the large pipes leading into your main sewer line, or with the main sewer line itself. Sometimes, non-flushable items that are flushed down the toilet, such as diapers and sanitary pads, may get caught in the large pipes, causing a partial blockage. Or, a tree may be growing into the main sewer line, pressing down and compacting the pipe or breaking through it with its roots.
You cannot fix problems in a large drainage pipe or main sewer line yourself; you'll need to call a plumber. He or she can locate the source of the clog, and based on its nature, either free the clog or replace the section of pipe that's become damaged.
Do you have a septic tank?
If all of your drains are running slowly and you have a septic tank, then it is almost certainly time to have the tank pumped. Solid waste builds up in the bottom of the septic tank over time, and if the level of solid waste gets too high, there won't be enough room for water in the top of the tank. When you send water down the drain, it can only trickle into the septic tank slowly at the rate that other water is leeching out.
It's important to have your septic tank pumped at the first sign of a slow drain -- otherwise, your yard might start flooding with sewage, if it hasn't already. Plus, having your tank pumped only costs a few hundred dollars, whereas having to replace the tank because you've neglected to maintain it can cost up to $10,000.
Far too many homeowners ignore slow drains, figuring the problem will eventually work itself out. However, this rarely happens. If your drains are slow, there is either a grimy pipe, clogged sewer line, or filled septic tank you need to deal with -- and it's in your best interest to deal with it soon. Contact companies like Total Enviro Services Inc for more info.