With the warming spring and summer temperatures, a common plumbing pest may emerge in your home. If you start to see the presence of tiny flies around your sinks in the kitchen or bathroom, you may have drain flies. Here are some tips to help you identify and address this persistent and troublesome plumbing nuisance.
Knowing What They Look Like
Because of their size, drain flies are often confused for fruit flies. Their bodies are very small – rarely more than a quarter of an inch in size. The biggest difference between these and fruit flies is that the wings of a drain fly appear large for their body. They don't fly far or often. Instead, they crawl around the counters and the sink. You'll typically see them lingering near the drain opening in your sink.
Spotting Drains that Need Attention
Drain flies plague plumbing systems that haven't been thoroughly cleaned or have deposits of grease and other debris. The best way to determine which drains need to be addressed is to isolate the ones with active infestations. Dry the base of each sink, then place masking tape over the top of the drain in an "X" shape with the adhesive facing down. Leave the tape for several hours, or preferably a full day. Then, inspect the sticky surface for the presence of flies. If there are any flies stuck to the tape, you need to clean your pipes.
If you don't keep masking tape in the house, no worries. You can do the same job using something sticky, like vegetable shortening. Just coat the inside of a small glass or other container with shortening. Place the container over the drain and wait the same amount of time. Any flies coming out of the drain will get stuck in the container and stick to the shortening.
Addressing Your Plumbing Issue
The only way to get rid of drain flies is by cleaning out your plumbing system. In fact, to ensure that they are completely eliminated, a plumber's professional cleaning is the best way to go. That doesn't mean there aren't some things you can do while you're waiting for the plumber to show up.
- Baking Soda Cleaning: Flush the drain pipe with a gallon of scalding hot water. You may even want to bring it to a full boil on the stove before pouring it down the drain. This hot water will dissolve some of the grease and particles that are lining the pipes and attracting the flies. Then, put a couple of tablespoons of baking soda into the drain. Let it sit for a minute or two, then follow it with another gallon of hot water. The baking soda helps to dissolve residue and can even get rid of some drain odors.
- Brush Scrubbing: Pull the drain plug out of the drain to expose the pipe. Then, use a long-handled pipe brush or plumber's snake to clean out the inside of the pipes all the way through the traps. This will give you a more aggressive cleaning on the inside surface of the pipes. If you're not comfortable working inside the pipes this way, let your plumber handle this part.
With the right care and attention, you can eliminate the presence of drain flies completely. Then, set up a routine cleaning schedule with your plumber to flush your pipes and keep them from coming back. Companies like Lowry Services: Electric, Plumbing, Heating & Cooling can provide some guidance for this.