Unblocking a blocked drain can be unpleasant work, so many homeowners choose chemical drain cleaners to wash away the sludge. Bottles of these chemicals are frequently found in cleaning closets, but are they completely safe? Dive into the world of chemical drain cleaners, find out how they function and learn why they’re hazardous. Then, explore a few safer alternatives for clearing clogged drains with no chemicals.
What are Chemical Drain Cleaners Used For?
Chemical drain cleaners are mostly used for clearing plumbing clogs. They appeal to homeowners because they’re practical and easy to use and offer effective results, at least at first. These cleaners are available in liquid, gel, or powder form and break down hair, grease, food and other stuff hindering the flow of water through the drain. They are often advertised as an easy and simple solution to fix persistent clogs and are sold at grocery stores, hardware stores and big box retailers.
How Do Drain Cleaners Work?
The exact reaction that takes place within the pipes depends on the type of drain cleaner being used. Here are some examples:
- Acidic drain cleaners include sulfuric, muriatic or hydrochloric acid. This reacts with organic materials to make heat and gas, dissolving the clog. Acidic cleaners are especially successful against hair clogs but must often be used repeatedly or in high concentrations to work.
- Oxidizing drain cleaners contain bleach, peroxides or nitrates, which are substances that release oxygen when poured down the drain. Oxidation breaks down organic matter and clears clogs from the pipes while destroying bacteria. Consequently, oxidizing cleaners work very well against easy-to-break-down substances like food.
- Caustic drain cleaners contain lye or potassium hydroxide, which creates heat to break down and break up materials in the drain. The caustic nature of these cleaners allow them to dissolve fat, grease and other organic materials.
- Enzyme drain cleaners don’t contain chemicals. Instead, they break down organic material utilizing bacteria or enzymes. However, they require more time to work than chemical drain cleaners due to the fact the bacteria or enzymes need time to multiply. For this reason, enzyme drain cleaners are a good choice as a maintenance measure rather than a rapid drain-cleaning solution.
Is Drain Cleaner Safe?
Even though chemical drain cleaners are somewhat effective, they do present risks. Here are a few key considerations:
- Chemical drain cleaner is not good for pipes. The heat produced by caustic and acidic drain cleaners can inflict damage on pipes, especially older or plastic ones, which can deteriorate and crack in the long run. Repeated use of these cleaners can result in expensive repairs or replacements, as damaged pipes are susceptible to leak or burst.
- Chemical drain cleaner can harm your family members. The highly toxic ingredients in drain cleaner can cause respiratory issues if inhaled, very bad burns if touched, blindness if rubbed into the eyes or digestive complications if ingested. Therefore, drain cleaner must be handled with a lot of care.
- Chemical drain cleaner is harmful to the environment. Dumping chemicals into the drain transfers toxic substances to local waterways, disrupting ecosystems, harming aquatic life and causing other environmentally harmful consequences.
Safer Alternatives to Drain Cleaner Chemicals
Fortunately, chemicals aren’t the only solution94 for clearing stopped up drains. Here are a few safer possibilities to try:
- Dish soap and hot water: Pouring hot, soapy water down a slow drain helps break up grease and washes away simple blockages. The soap works as a lubricant and emulsifier, while the hot water dissolves and carries away the clog. This method may necessitate a number of attempts, but it’s safe and non-toxic.
- Plunger: This manual drain-clearing technique sends blockages out of the pipe without the need for harmful chemicals. Fill the clogged sink or tub with an inch of water to help generate a tight seal around the drain opening. Then, make powerful, regular plunging motions until the water goes away.
- Drain snake: Also called a plumber’s auger, this instrument involves a flexible cable with a corkscrew on the end. When put into the drain, the snake physically breaks up and removes blockages. This method is very effective against stubborn clogs without damaging the pipes or causing any health risks.
- Hydro-jetting: This professional service uses high-pressure water to blast away debris and buildup, providing a thorough cleaning that keeps future clogs at bay. Hydro-jetting requires a professional plumber’s assistance, but it’s the most effective, long-lasting remedy for even the toughest clogs.
Schedule Professional Drain Cleaning Services
While chemical drain cleaners present a quick fix for little clogs, they present too many risks. Consider using safer, chemical-free alternatives to protect your pipes, your loved ones and the environment. If your DIY fixes prove fruitless, turn to Eveready Service Experts for professional drain cleaning services in Richmond. We’ll get your drains draining again and recommend tips to prevent clogs from returning. Our plumbers are eager to help, so reach out to a Service Experts office near you today!