How keeping your drains clear can help the environment too

  • 12th December 2022

We take drains for granted, thinking that they can take anything we throw at them. The same could be said for the environment. The truth is that both can become fragile over time and we need to learn what to do to prevent that. 

Drains are put to work all year round, but that burden can increase as we approach colder months, with people seeing more drainage issues. Thankfully, whatever time of year it is, there are simple things we can do to create change.

Drain campaigns

Taking care of drains is so important that in 2019 a campaign known as Unblocktober was created to raise awareness of such issues. Running through the month of October each year, the campaign hopes to improve the health of drains, sewers, watercourses and seas. 

The campaign itself is British in origin, but the idea is to inspire improvements worldwide. It is also growing rapidly as the launch campaign saw 4,500 Britons sign up, whilst 2021 saw a jump to over 32,000 signatures pledging to change kitchen and bathroom habits.

How you can improve your drains and the environment

All you need to do is dispose of items correctly and not rely on drains or toilets to wash things away. Doing this helps stop a knock-on effect of polluting the environment with waste - the items you flush end up somewhere after all. 

On a smaller and more personal level, it also helps prevent you from running into frustrating plumbing and drain problems in the near future.

Small changes in your habits can make a big difference on the world around you, so if everyone takes up these improvements, just think of the impact it could have.

Problems you could run into

Not disposing of items properly and just leaving your drains and pipes to do all the work can lead to a range of problems. Flushing an item not designed to be flushed can easily cause a blockage – and you won’t want an overflowing toilet flooding your home with sewage water. 

The same can be said for disposing of items down the sink, the kitchen drains are especially put through a lot of work. The food and debris you dispose of in the kitchen sink can build up over time, causing blockages, burst pipes or bad smells. 

Problems in winter

In winter, the cold can lead to water, liquids and food debris all mixing together and freezing. This creates a blockage that could eventually expand and burst your pipes. Winter is also a common time to have issues as an influx of food is washed down the sink during the busy Christmas period.

Pipes in the coldest parts of your home are most at risk, such as exterior pipes. Aside from disposing of food sensibly, running water regularly and keeping your home at a comfortable temperature can help prevent pipes from freezing. Our electricians and heating engineers are on call to repair your boilers and heating appliances.

Problems in summer

Hot weather in summer can also cause issues. If you regularly wash food down the sink, small bits may get stuck in the pipes and become reheated by the warm temperatures. As you can probably imagine, the smell of reheated old and rotting food will not be pleasant. 

You also might be going out more during summer, bringing back grass, mud and sand from your outside adventures and showering it off, causing build up and risk of blockage in your bathtub’s drain. Try to clean off any excess outside first.

What not to flush

Some items that shouldn’t be flushed may seem obvious to some, but others may not realise. A general rule for toilets anywhere is limit it to bodily waste and toilet paper, everything else should be binned. 

A popularly flushed item that people don’t realise isn’t flushable are wet wipes. Unless specified as flushable (it should say on the packaging), throw them in the bin. 48% of the British public have admitted to flushing wet wipes and while it may not seem like a big deal at first, it has led to the formation of “Wet Wipe Island”.

Wet Wipe Island is exactly what it sounds like - a cluster of flushed wet wipes that have merged on the River Thames to form an island the size of two tennis courts. It has even affected the river’s course – one example of the effect that something as seemingly innocuous as flushing a wet wipe can have on your environment.

Here is a list of other things, with some that may seem flushable, but aren’t:

  • Tampons
  • Sanitary/menstrual pads and towels
  • Condoms
  • Nappies
  • Bandages and plasters
  • Dental floss
  • Contact lenses
  • Cotton buds
  • Items containing plastic

Even small items like dental floss and contact lenses shouldn’t be flushed down the toilet or washed down the drain, it seems innocent if one person does it, but if everyone thinks the same way, we end up with a plastic build up that blocks sewers and spills into our rivers and seas.

What to avoid washing down the drain

Though it might seem like you can just wash everything down the kitchen drain when washing up after dinner, try to avoid or limit what you put down there if you want to keep your pipes clear. 

Scrape as much food as you can off of plates and into the bin, rather than let excess amounts of food pieces just wash down the sink.

As well as crumbs, a few food items you should definitely avoid are substances such as:

  • Cooking oil
  • Cooking sauce
  • Butter or margarine
  • Lard
Signs to look out for

It takes time for these issues to build up, so problems could have been started by the habits of previous owners of the property or small things could have innocently added up over time. 

Either way, the main signs to look out for are:

  • Water draining slower than usual in your sinks/bathtub/shower
  • Water level rising higher than usual when flushing the toilet
  • Unpleasant smells coming from the drains
  • Strange gurgling sounds coming from drains/plugholes (this could mean trapped air or a blockage)

If these signs are caught early enough, you may be able to improve the situation by using an unblocking solution from a shop or a homemade mixture, along with pouring boiling hot water down the drains. 

However, if the problem is severe or trying these methods hasn’t improved the situation, you’ll need to call an expert.

How we can help

At Able Group we are available 24/7, 365 days a year - specialising in 7 different trades with expert engineers in glazing, locks, plumbing, drains, gas & heating, electrics and pest control.

If you are experiencing problems with your drainage systems, whether it’s in your home or a commercial building, we are on call to respond quickly at a time that suits you. We can perform services such as CCTV camera surveys to identify causes of problems and drain jetting to clear the blockage. 

Just give us a call on 0330 108 4111

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