Keep Drains Working

By Carolyn Shearlock © 2012 • all rights reserved

5 minutes a month

Five minutes of preventive maintenance a month will go a long ways towards keeping your drains, well, draining.  And not backed up like mine was this morning because I’d been, well, a bit lazy.

Every day, little bits of grease and food particles go down the galley drain.  Little by little, they clump together and slow the drain down — particularly right at the waterline.  Eventually, the clump gets large enough that the drain’s not just slow, it’s backed up.

Aboard Que Tal, one of our once a month maintenance chores was to boil a big pot of water (I usually got a bucket of sea water so I could use plenty) and quickly pour the whole thing down the galley drain to melt and flush away the congealed goo.  The only two “tricks” are to use plenty of boiling water and to pour it in all at once (obviously, be careful with boiling water and do this on a calm day). Like most other preventive tasks, it’s much easier than dealing with a plugged up sink.

By the way, it’s good to do this in the head sink and shower drain as well.  In both of those, soap will congeal and cause clogs (especially when there’s long hair around).

And if you do get a clog, check out my article on clearing one.

And this morning’s little experience that led to this?  I’d been sort of lazy and hadn’t done the boiling water for a few months.  Well, maybe more than a few.  And when I poured the leftover coffee into the sink this morning, it just sat there.  Luckily the plunger made quick work of it and then a big pot of boiling water had everything flowing again.  And yes, I immediately boiled more for the shower and other sink.

There’s now a repeating entry on my calendar for the 20th of each month:  “Boiling water down drains”

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  1. JayTami Klassen on Facebook says:

    Works on shore too 🙂

  2. Yep, same likely causes for slow for stopped drains!

  3. Charlotte says:

    I pour white vinegar down as well, once a month. Don’t know if it is worth it, but I always have good drainage!

  4. I do the vinegar also, but put a heaping tsp of baking soda down the drain first…When you add the vinegar it bubbles up. Put the vinegar in slowly. Even when it looks like everything has run down the drain, pour in a bit more vinegar and it will bubble and clean the entire line. We have also used this to clear the line for the air conditioner/heater when it got clogged. Works like a charm. I do all drains once a month – on the boat and at home. Can’t remember the last time I’ve had a “backed up” sink.

  5. I need to do this…..thanks!

  6. Kris Steyn on Facebook says:

    compliments of a fellow cruiser : cant remember who, said coffee grounds have a way of sticking to all the goo and carrying it away, kind of like abraiding your skin – start the day with a fresh pot 🙂

  7. Dawna Bate on Facebook says:

    We just cleaned our drains last night. Good reminder. Thanks!

  8. Steven K. Roberts on Facebook says:

    There is one factor to consider with this… many people advise against pouring boiling water down the drain if it is PVC pipe, and it can soften. It depends on the quantity… but I’ve read this enough times that I’m careful with mine and even let pasta water first mix with cool water in a bowl. Otherwise… yes! Best grease-cutter, and no nasties.

  9. Great idea although in more than 5 years of full-time living aboard and cruising, we never had this problem. Maybe draining pasta and potato water did the trick.

  10. David J Warman on Facebook says:

    Rule #2: know where your drains are. We used to own a Morris Minor Traveller van. Not a boat, no, but it did have a varnished wooden frame.with sliding glass windows. With little rain drain holes along their feet. Which we found out about only after the rot had spread un-noticed under the varnish to the rear frame, when the back door came off in my hand.

  11. Hey Caroline – I don’t believe I ever told you about the couple who had a boat just like ours that we ran into in LaPaz. She wanted a garbage disposal on her boat and she engineered one! She mounted a macerator pump between the kitchen sink drain and the hose and – VOILA – garbage disposal! Any spare bits of food that made their way into the bottom of the sink were severely dealt with. Pretty cool, I always thought….

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