There are certain elements of plumbing problems that are beyond your control. What goes down the drain is completely within your control. You can decide what does and does not go into your drain. That’s one of the biggest factors in a plumbing emergency.
Many people who have a garbage disposal in their kitchen sink think that they can just pour whatever they want down the drain and then grind it with the disposal. Garbage disposals are designed to grind up the last scraps of food, not large amounts of food. Your best option is to scrape your plates and cookware into the trash can. Your garbage disposal can still be overwhelmed if you put too much food in the drain.
Several types of bathroom wipes, makeup removers, and baby wipes are billed as “flushable.” They are, however, not flushable. Toilet paper is flushable because it breaks down when it sits in water. You can see this any time you try to clean up a spill with toilet paper. Flushable wipes are designed to hold their texture while they’re moist; that’s the exact opposite of what you want in something that goes down the toilet. They will hold their texture and then catch on other things in the drain. Eventually, you’ll have a clog.
Paper towels might seem like they’re about the same as toilet paper, but they’re not. Paper towels are marketed as “strong” against spills, which means that moisture won’t cause them to tear apart. You want everything in your drain to fall apart quickly when it gets wet. Don’t flush paper towels; throw them in the trash.
Some old advice says to run some coffee grounds through your toilet or your sink. The abrasive nature of the grounds is supposed to scrape your pipes clean. That’s not at all what happens. Instead, the grounds clump together; you can see this whenever you dump grounds in the trash. Moist grounds cling together. They’ll attach to fat and other substances in the pipes to create a clog.
Fat is one of the biggest culprits in clogged pipes. The fat that is solid at room temperature will become liquid when heated. After cooking, many people dump the liquid fat down the drain. It then cools back into a solid. That solid creates clogs. Pour the fat into a sealed container and throw it away, or wait for it to cool and then dump it in the trash.