Unblocking a clogged drain can be nasty work, so many homeowners choose chemical drain cleaners to wash away the gunk. Bottles of these cleaners are frequently found in cleaning closets, but are they truly safe? Dive into the world of chemical drain cleaners, learn how they clear blockages and learn why they’re hazardous. Then, explore a few of the safer alternatives for clearing clogged drains without chemicals.
What are Chemical Drain Cleaners Used For?
Chemical drain cleaners are mainly used for clearing plumbing blockages. They are attractive to homeowners because they’re fast and straight forward to use and offer successful results, at least at first. These cleaners are available in liquid, gel, or powder form and break down hair, grease, food and other materials obstructing the drain. They are often promoted as an easy and simple solution to tackle persistent clogs and are sold at grocery stores, hardware stores and big box retailers.
How Do Drain Cleaners Work?
The exact reaction that occurs within the pipes varies depending 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 particularly successful against hair clogs but must often be used more than once or in high concentrations to get the job done.
- Oxidizing drain cleaners contain bleach, peroxides or nitrates, which are substances that release oxygen when put in the drain. Oxidation breaks down organic matter and cleans obstructions from the pipes while destroying bacteria. Consequently, oxidizing cleaners are the best against easy-to-break-down substances like food.
- Caustic drain cleaners contain lye or potassium hydroxide, which produces heat to break down and break up materials clogging the drain. The caustic traits of these cleaners allow them to dissolve fat, grease and other organic substances.
- Enzyme drain cleaners don’t use chemicals. Instead, they break down organic material with bacteria or enzymes. However, they take longer to dissolve clogs than chemical drain cleaners because the bacteria or enzymes must have time to multiply. As a result, enzyme drain cleaners are most effective as a preventative measure rather than a speedy drain-cleaning remedy.
Is Drain Cleaner Safe?
Although chemical drain cleaners are somewhat effective, they do present risks. Here are a few key concerns:
- 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 weaken and crack with time. Frequent use of these cleaners can cause expensive repairs or replacements, as damaged pipes are susceptible to leak or break.
- Chemical drain cleaner can hurt your family members. The highly toxic compounds in drain cleaner can cause respiratory issues if inhaled, very bad burns if touched, blindness if rubbed into the eyes or digestive problems if ingested. Therefore, drain cleaner must be used with a lot of care.
- Chemical drain cleaner is bad for the environment. Putting chemicals down the drain transfers toxic substances to local waterways, disrupting ecosystems, harming aquatic life and causing other environmentally damaging effects.
Safer Alternatives to Drain Cleaner Chemicals
Luckily, chemicals aren’t the only option94 for clearing clogged drains. Here are a few safer possibilities to attempt:
- Dish soap and hot water: Adding hot, soapy water to a sluggish drain helps break up grease and washes away small blockages. The soap serves as a lubricant and emulsifier, while the hot water dissolves and washes out the clog. This tactic may require several attempts, but it’s safe and non-toxic.
- Plunger: This manual drain-clearing method sends blockages from the pipe without harmful chemicals. Fill the clogged sink or tub with an inch of water to help make a tight seal over the drain opening. Then, make strong, regular plunging motions until the water goes away.
- Drain snake: Also known as a plumber’s auger, this device features a flexible cable with a corkscrew on the end. When put down the drain, the snake physically breaks up and removes obstacles. This method is highly effective against persistent clogs without damaging the pipes or posing 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 from happening. Hydro-jetting requires a professional plumber’s assistance, but it’s the most effective, long-lasting solution for even the toughest clogs.
Schedule Professional Drain Cleaning Services
While chemical drain cleaners offer a quick cure for small clogs, they create too many risks. Think about using safer, chemical-free alternatives to protect your pipes, your loved ones and the environment. If your DIY attempts prove fruitless, turn to Broad Ripple Service Experts for professional drain cleaning services in Indianapolis. We’ll get your drains draining again and recommend tips to stop clogs from returning. Our plumbers are eager to help, so call a Service Experts office near you today!