Plumbing doesn't always work the way that people want it to, but generally speaking, most homeowners can fix the problem for themselves with drain cleaner or something like a mechanical snake. However, if you find that you do this and the sluggishness returns quickly, it may indicate that it's time for help from a professional. Here's why.
What Happens to Pipes Over Time
When you wash something down the drain, that's probably the last time you think about it. But that substance may stick around longer than you expect.
Pipes can become literally sticky with whatever has been run down them over time. This is particularly common in places like the kitchen, where food debris and oil frequently run down the drain. However, even skin oil and dirt coming off of hands in the bathroom sink can potentially be enough to start lining your pipes with the stuff.
In the short term, this won't cause any problems for you. But if it goes on for long enough, the film on the walls of the pipe can gradually start to thicken, obstructing water and other debris from making it down the drain quickly and efficiently.
Why Drain Cleaners Aren't Necessarily Enough
Drain cleaners do a good job of getting rid of blockages in pipes, but they're not always the best at getting rid of build-up. This is for two main reasons.
The first is that drain cleaner tends to accumulate wherever the blockage is but may leave the rest of your pipe completely devoid of drain cleaner until that blockage is out of the way, so only a small portion of the pipe will significantly benefit from the drain cleaner.
The other problem is that if you don't have a major blockage and just want to get rid of the build-up in your pipe, a drain cleaner may not help much at all. Without a blockage to hold it in place, the drain cleaner will just run down the drain, out through the pipe, and to your sewer line. So every time you use drain cleaner to try and fix this problem, you're only impacting it partially.
What to Do
This is where a plumber comes in. Plumbers can use a piece of specialized equipment to perform a service called hydrojetting. This essentially is an extremely highly-powered stream of water that can blast away debris, grease, and built-up oil on the inside of a pipe. It's eco-friendly, because it only uses water, and it can typically be performed on any drain that's having a problem. Contact a plumbing company like All County Rooter to learn more about your options for drain cleaning.