As with any other pipe, laundry drains are sometimes prone to clogging and backing up. A clogged laundry drain can be a major issue as it could quickly flood the surrounding area before you even realize what is happening and potentially lead to extensive water damage. Most laundry drain clogs are caused by a combination of lint, soap residue, and limescale, and these are the main things you will want to try to tackle in order to prevent the drain from clogging. The good news is that laundry drain clogs are fairly easy to prevent, and here are some simple tips that should help you do just that.
Have Your Plumbing Inspected Annually
If you’re like most people, you probably rarely, if ever, have your plumbing professionally inspected. Still, the fact is that scheduling an annual plumbing inspection is by far the best way to prevent clogs and most other plumbing and sewer issues. During the inspection, a plumber will check to make sure that all of your drains are working correctly and draining properly. If any issues are detected, the plumber can then clean out the drain or drain pipe to help ensure that it doesn’t soon become completely clogged.
Use a Lint Filter
Doing a load of laundry always leaves behind lots of lint. Some of this lint remains on your clothes after washing and is then trapped by the lint filter in your dryer. However, the majority of the lint is washed out and ends up going down the drain, and all of this lint has the potential to quickly lead to a clog. This is why we always recommend attaching a lint filter to the end of the washing machine drain hose.
You can find many different lint filters that are specifically designed to capture lint and prevent it from going down the drain. The most effective filters are those that are made of a fine mesh, but even covering the end of the drain hose with a nylon stocking can still go a long way toward preventing lint from clogging your laundry drain.
Avoid Using Too Much Laundry Detergent
Soap residue is another major cause of laundry drain clogs. The more laundry detergent you use, the more soap residue will end up washing down the drain. This is why you should always make sure to only ever use the recommended amount of detergent. If your clothes are extremely dirty, you are much better off washing them twice rather than trying to get them clean by adding extra detergent.
Make Sure Your Clothes Aren’t Too Soiled
Whatever dirt, grease, and other debris are on your clothes when they go into the wash will end up getting rinsed down the drain, and this can end up clogging the drain if you frequently wash clothes that are extremely dirty. This is why it is always a good idea to try to clean off any caked dirt and other debris before you put your clothes in the laundry. This is especially true if your clothes are covered in grease or oil since these are two of the biggest causes of clogged drains and pipes. If your clothes are extremely dirty, rinsing them off outside first or washing them at a laundromat will definitely help to reduce the risk of a drain clog.
Clean Out Your Washing Machine and Laundry Drain Regularly
Soap residue and limescale both collect inside your washing machine and your laundry drain over time, and this can eventually cause your washing machine to leak or your drain to become clogged. For this reason, we always recommend cleaning out your drain and washing machine every month or so.
The best way to clean out your washing machine is to put a cup or two of white vinegar into it and then run a full wash cycle while empty. The vinegar will help to cut through and remove most of the soap residue and limescale.
You can also use a similar method to wash out your laundry drain. The easiest way to do this is to first pour a gallon or two of hot water down the drain followed by a cup or two of baking soda. Let the baking soda sit in the drain for around 15-20 minutes, and then rinse out the drain with a cup or two of vinegar.
Use Enzymes to Treat Your Drain
There are also special laundry drain enzyme treatments that are designed to help prevent clogs. These enzymes contain beneficial bacteria that work to cut through soap residue so that it doesn’t build up inside the drain pipe. For best results, pour the treatment into your drain every month or two and then wait for around 20-30 minutes before flushing the drain with hot water.
Consider Upgrading to a Front-Load Washing Machine
If you still use a top-load washing machine, we would also recommend upgrading to a new front-load machine if possible. Top-load washing machines use far more water, and they can sometimes drain more quickly than your plumbing can handle. If the drain pipe is even partially clogged or coated in soap residue and limescale, the volume of water will often be so much that it overloads the drain pipe and causes it to overflow.
Front-load washing machines generally never have this issue since they use far less water. This means that upgrading to a front-load machine can not only help to prevent your laundry drain from overflowing, but it will also lower your water bills.
Install a Water Softener to Prevent Limescale
The build-up of limescale is another common cause of drain clogs and a whole host of other plumbing issues. The harder your water is, the more limescale will build up inside your pipes, plumbing fixtures, and drains. Virtually all of Illinois has quite hard water, and the water in the Plainfield area is classified as extremely hard. For this reason, we would also recommend installing a water softener if your home doesn’t already have one.
Most water softeners work using an ion exchange process that captures and removes dissolved calcium and magnesium from the water as it enters the home. By removing these minerals, you can help to prevent the inside of your drains and water lines from slowly becoming clogged with limescale. A water softener will also help your clothes to get cleaner and prevent damage to your dishwasher, washing machine, coffee pot, and other appliances.
Know When It’s Time to Call a Professional Plumber
If you’ve noticed water pooling up around your washing machine or your drain is overflowing, you will definitely want to contact a plumber as soon as possible. Unless you own a plumber’s snake and know how to safely and effectively use it, there is very little chance that you can overcome a major drain clog on your own. There is also a chance that the laundry drain is overflowing due to a clog in your main sewer line, and this is a serious issue as it could cause the sewer line to burst or sewage to start backing up inside your home. For these reasons, we always recommend contacting a plumber at the first sign of any type of clog.
If you’re dealing with a clogged laundry drain or any other plumbing issue, you can count on the team at TR Miller Heating, Cooling & Plumbing for help. We specialize in drain cleaning and a full range of plumbing repairand installation services.