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Question DetailsAsked on 10/5/2016

How often should I use baking soda & vinegar in toilet if it isn't stopped up?

I live in a 2 family home. Upstairs tenants seem to be putting food down their toilet and stopping up the sewer drain. My toilet isn't stopped up and I'm very careful not to put anything in it that would stop it up. I live on the first floor of the house.

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1 Answer


While putting food down the toilet or drain can stop up the drain they put it down, unless they are putting something that swells up (like uncooked rice) or settles/jams in the pipes like bones or chunks of vegetables or shells or such, it would be real rare for normal food washoff from plates to do this - though bulk garbage like plate scrapings and leftover food could certainly settle in the bottom of the near-level pipe runs and cause a backup of sewage into the house - meaning into the lowest drain in the house, basement or bottom-most floor drain or laundry tub or tub/shower is usually first to back up.

As far as your drains - while the baking soda is not likely to hurt much, frequent use of vinegar can damage metal pipes and maybe gaskets/seals - and would do little if anything to help with clearing what they are putting down the pipes. There is no reason to use it in your drains if there is no blockage - especially in toilet. Vinegar and baking soda is used to clear clogged traps (the U-shaped pipes under a sink or tub/shower, etc) and works by the bubbling action of the carbon dioxide gas released when the baking soda and vinegar mix - helps to clear clogged traps by the bubbling of the gas through the clog breaking it up and loosening it up, but not likely to have any marked effect on clogs in the main sewer line unless massive amounts are used. Generally, that needs to be cleared by snaking or better yet, periodic (typically 10-15 year intervals or so, more frequent if a lot of grease is put down the drain) full-diameter routing out or jetting to restore the pipe to its full inside diameter by removing the buyilt-up grease and fiber and soap scum and such which can gradually reduce a drain line to the point of blockage.

I would be talking to the owner about this if backups are occurring - about him/her talking to the upstairs tenants about what they are putting down the drain, or maybe getting the sewer lines routed or jetted out to full diameter again. And maybe talking to the upstairs tenants about scraping excess food/waste food into a garbage can first, or possibly installing a garbage disposal in their unit. (Works to cut the food debris down to the size that passes readily, but landlords don't like the maintenance issues with them). And getting them to not pour grease from cooking down the drain - that gels and clogs up real quick when it hits the cold below-ground portion of the lines. Grease should be put in containers in the trash, or if hot poured into old tin cans to solidify, then to trash.

Answered 3 years ago by LCD

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