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What You Should (And Shouldn't) Do About Foreign Objects In Your Drains

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Large foreign objects can end up in drains for any number of reasons. If you have children, you know they can often throw everything from toys to large pieces of food into places they don't belong. Unfortunately, a large object in your home's plumbing system can potentially cause numerous expensive problems.

First and foremost, don't panic when something goes down the drain. In many cases, the situation isn't critical and won't result in any expensive repairs. However, traditional drain cleaning methods may be ineffective for stuck hard objects. Instead, check out these dos and don'ts for addressing this common and frustrating issue.

DON'T: Ignore the Problem 

Just because an object goes down the drain doesn't mean it will successfully navigate your plumbing and reach the sewer. Many objects that can fit through drain openings will become stuck when they encounter a bend in your plumbing. Once lodged in place, these objects create an obstruction that will pick up additional waste and eventually create recurring clogs.

Even if your drain seems to be running well, you should consider contacting a plumber to inspect the drain and determine if the object may be in a damaging location.

DON'T: Run Your Garbage Disposal

Garbage disposals are incredibly convenient, and many residential models are surprisingly powerful but don't expect them to grind up hard, non-food objects. If something falls into your kitchen drain, do not attempt to grind it up with your disposal. Instead, disconnect the power to the disposal and try to fish it out from above.

When you can't access the object from above, you can remove the garbage disposal and open it up for cleaning. If you aren't comfortable performing this procedure, a plumber can help you.

DO: Check Your P-Trap

Every sink in your home should have a p-trap, a section of plumbing that creates a water plug and prevents sewer gases from entering your home. Most objects that fall into your drains will end up in your traps, and removing a p-trap is relatively easy. If a large object went down your drain, check the p-trap beneath the affected sink.

Note that some p-traps may be hard to remove or require special tools. Contact a professional if you can't get your p-trap loose or feel you might damage the pipes by trying.

DO: Call for a Professional Plumber

While many objects will often become stuck in garbage disposals or p-traps, others may lodge themselves in harder-to-reach areas. If you can't locate the object, a professional plumber can use an inspection camera to pinpoint its location. Professionals will also have the tools to dislodge the object and pull it back up, preventing it from getting stuck even deeper in your plumbing.

Remember that any hard object can become the nucleus of a recurring clog, and dealing with these obstructions can quickly lead to high costs. Hiring a professional to remove the object now is a great way to save yourself time and money in the future.