Check your pipes if you live in an area with very cold tempuratures, if your building is old, or if there are trees nearby.
Ice, old pipes, and tree roots are culprits of long-term damage. “Checking” pipes means stress-testing them by running water, and (ideally) getting a technician to perform a camera inspection. This will instantly let you know what the problem is, where it is, and how serious it is. This is especially important for older buildings.
Avoid flushing anything you’re not supposed to.
any debris and anything that sticks to the sides of pipes (i.e. lard, oil, fats). hair, and trash (sanitary supplies, latex, or plastics) will stick to other pieces of garbage and likely cause clogs and backups. If you’re worried that there might be a blockage in the main drain, regularly run a sink or bathtub on the lowest level of a home for a few minutes, and make sure the water is draining at usual speed and there are’t strange smells. Odors, slow draining, and “gurgling” are all evidence of a buildup of gases in air pockets within the pipe.
Get to know your kitchen sink.
A very good sink food disposal is a very good investment for the longevity of pipes. Running soapy warm water through a pipe can help break up oils and fats that build up on the walls of the pipe, as well. Getting to know the pipes under the sink, and being able to access them and take them apart, is a very useful skill and a quick way to see if a clog is just something in the P-trap (the mechanism under the sink), or something else. Never let fats, grease, or large chunks of food down the drain.