10 Expert Ways to Take Care of Pipes and Drains

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Of all our modern conveniences, indoor plumbing might be the one we most take for granted. Although we use our sinks and sewer system multiple times a day, they simply don’t require a ton of attention. And because plumbing lasts for decades, it’s rarely top of mind. When it is, it’s because there’s a problem: the nuisance of a clogged drain or a plugged-up toilet all the way to a disastrous sewer back-up. 

Most homeowners can avoid a plumbing emergency with a little preventive care—most of which you can do yourself without involving a Columbia plumber.

Pipe and Drain Care Tip #1: Clean Every Drain Every Month

Pipes and sewers back up when water and waste can’t flow freely, which can happen when gunk builds up on the inside of your pipes. So, you should clean your drains monthly, using an enzyme-based cleaner—not a chemical-based one that can damage your pipes. If you prefer a homemade solution, send some baking soda and vinegar down the drain, let the combination work its magic for 15 minutes or so, and then rinse with boiling water.

Pipe and Drain Care Tip #2: Flush Correctly

As in… don’t flush anything but human waste and toilet paper. No diapers, no so-called “flushable” wipes (no matter what the package says!), no feminine hygiene products, no paper towels, no kitty litter (for crying out loud), and absolutely no leftovers. (Yes, really. Some people use their toilet as a secondary garbage disposal, and it wreaks havoc on their sewer system.) 

Pipe and Drain Care Tip #3: Never Pour Grease Down Your Kitchen Drain

All of your pipes eventually connect under your home at a main drain that carries everything to the sewer line. That means if you’re dumping grease down your kitchen sink, it’s going to coat not just that pipe, but also every pipe on its way to, and including, the main sewer line. 

That grease can also transform into what some people lovingly (ahem) call “fatbergs”—oil, grease, and other gunk that accumulates over months or years and causes sewer mayhem in individual homes and city systems. In 2018, for example, Metro Detroit public works officials removed a fatberg from a county sewer line that was 11 feet wide, 100 feet long, and 6 feet tall. “Gross,” is an understatement.

Do your sewer (and city) a favor, and use paper towels to soak up grease and then toss the towels in the trash. (Not the toilet! See Tip #2.)

Pipe and Drain Care Tip #4: Use Your Garbage Disposal Sparingly

Grease is one of many things you shouldn’t put down your kitchen sink. Pasta, rice, fibrous or starchy veggies like celery and potatoes, egg shells, and coffee grounds should also be off-limits. Think of your garbage disposal more like a “crumb dispenser” and your plumbing will be better for it. 

Pipe and Drain Care Tip #5: Keep Roots Away From Your Sewer Line

Sometimes, sewers back up because of what’s going on inside your home. But often, they back up because of what’s happening in your backyard. If you have trees or large bushes planted too close to the sewer line, their roots can push through the pipe and create a clog or cause damage. 

Pipe and Drain Care Tip #6: Use a Drain Guard

When we’re in a hurry or feeling a bit lazy, we make mistakes. Adding a simple, inexpensive drain guard to each of your sinks can keep you from sending things down the drain that don’t belong there. A drain guard in the tub can help prevent those nasty hair-plus-soap clogs.

Pipe and Drain Care Tip #7: Set Your Water Pressure No Higher Than 80 psi

Clogs are only one way to kill a plumbing system. The other way? Sending too much water through the pipes too quickly. Over time, water pressure that’s too high puts strain on valves, joints, and even the pipes themselves—setting you up for cracks and leaks. Pick up a water pressure gauge at the local hardware store, and if you discover your pressure is too high, call in a pro to install a regulator. 

Pipe and Drain Care Tip #8: Have Your Sewer Line Professionally Inspected and Cleaned Every Three Years (at least)

If you want to have total peace of mind that your sewer’s in good shape, have a Columbia residential plumber inspect and then snake or hydrojet it every three years or so. This is particularly important if you have lots of roots near your out-pipes (see Tip #5). 

Pipe and Drain Care Tip #9: Prevent Water from Freezing in Your Pipes

When water freezes, it expands—and if there’s enough of it in your pipes, they could burst. Check out the tips we shared last month to avoid this major plumbing disaster.

Pipe and Drain Care Tip #10: Replace Old Pipes

Yes, plumbing and sewer pipes last for decades—but houses typically last much longer. If your pipes are older, consider replacing them before you have a problem. Typical pipe lifespans are as follows:

  • Brass supply pipes: 40-70 years
  • Cast iron drain lines: 75-100 years
  • Copper supply pipes: 50 years
  • Galvanized steel supply pipes: 20-50 years
  • PEX supply lines: 25-40 years
  • PVC drain lines: Indefinite

If you still have lead pipes, you should have them replaced immediately.

Have questions about Columbia sewer maintenance?

Your home is likely the single biggest investment you have—and we’d love to help you take good care of it. If you have concerns or questions about your sewer lines or you need expert advice about any other plumbing issue—and we do mean anywe’re the Columbia plumber to call.

We had a great experience with Mastertech Plumbing from the time we made the phone call to request service. Our plumber Tyson was friendly, knowledgeable & professional. I would highly recommend this company & him for any plumbing needs.
Jamie Hogan
Jamie Hogan
17:40 22 May 20
I had a clogged drain that needed professional assistance. MasterTech was able to get Devin out to my house to fix our issue in record time. Devin was great and very professional and made sure the issue was fixed, the work area was clean and that I was satisfied with his work before he left. I highly recommend MasterTech.
Jeffery James
Jeffery James
17:01 08 May 20
When I called, the phone was answered by a pleasant service representative that remembered me and was understanding to my immediate need. MasterTech Plumbing tech Chad was very professional and friendly. He kept me informed of all what was wrong and didn’t try to up sell anything. I really appreciate Chad’s skillful knowledge. The quality of his work is exceptional. I know I can rely on Chad and MasterTech Plumbing.
Angela Hernandez
Angela Hernandez
02:12 08 Apr 20
The service we received today was awesome! Punctual, efficient, and up front and honest about prices and what products that we needed. Excellent work.
Cole Stoecklein
Cole Stoecklein
14:52 18 Mar 20
Josh is great! He is the one who usually comes to our house. He installed an overhead tank toilet, which is a tricky and time-consuming job. He overcame many obstacles and stuck with it until the job was completed and done right. Price was also good. MasterTech has always taken care of all our needs in a prompt and professional manner. Emergency service has always been rapid too.
Michael Lewis
Michael Lewis
17:24 11 Mar 20
Chris was great. Dispatch was great. We were scheduled quickly. Prices were very competitive. Edit: We had great success having our pipes fixed. Due to Missouri weather things were touch and go but Master Tech sure delivered! We are so please with the fix, financing and friendliness Master tech and our technician Chris Gilpin provided us. Will forever and always us Master tech. Certainly mighty nice people
Kimberly Threatt
Kimberly Threatt
01:30 29 Feb 20
We had to have emergency service today, Saturday. A serviceman was here in less than an hour. The repairs were made quickly, the charge was not over the top, even though it was not a work day, and the individual was friendly and courteous. We have learned to expect this kind of service from Master Tech. Thank you.
Barbara Timbrook
Barbara Timbrook
03:48 26 Jan 20
I recommend MasterTech. They show up when they tell you they will show up. They provide a comprehensive estimate and also a good explanation of the work that need to be done. Their work is good quality. They usually have the needed parts on their truck so they can do the task in a timely manner. They clean up the work area after the job is finished,
Dennis Catlett
Dennis Catlett
22:15 23 Jan 20
A great experience. First, on time, service tech was sent out when promised. Second, quick assessment of the problem (faulty sump pump). The tech not only quickly replaced the pump, but he made an alteration that will make it easier whenever a replacement has to be made. Bottom line, a most professional service. Certainly would recommend Master Tech to folks needing their service.
W B Tichenor
W B Tichenor
16:08 31 Dec 19
MasterTech is so great to work with. They're quick, clean, do great work, and have fair pricing. But the best thing about MasterTech is their people. Whoever is responsible for their human resources does a terrific job of selecting and/or training them. They're so friendly and provide excellent information and customer service. I highly recommend MasterTech!
Jason Black
Jason Black
20:37 26 Dec 19
Previously I had not been impressed with master tech. However, their technician Dillon not only fixed my emergency pipe break at 1am on a holiday but also saved me as a customer. This was the best service I have ever had at my home. He arrived promptly at 1am. Provided a couple of options on how to fix my problem both in the short and long term and quickly made repairs. He also has provided advice on how to address issues related to the water damage caused by the busted pipe. This was one of the most positive bad situation we have had as homeowners. Thank you Dillon and mastertech.
Michael Grote
Michael Grote
20:35 26 Dec 19
I had to change my appointment at the last minute and they were able to accommodate my new availability without any hesitation. My tech was really professional (Dillion). I got a call and a text to let me know he was on the way. He fixed my problem quickly and was so friendly. This is the second time that I have had to use a plumber and I will use Master Tech again since I have an old house with old plumbing.
Leigh Burton
Leigh Burton
14:01 22 Nov 19
HVAC and plumbing under one roof, what else do you need?! Great team!
CJ Roe
CJ Roe
01:06 30 May 18

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