Are Chemical Drain Cleaners Safe to Use?

Unblocking a clogged drain can be nasty work, so many homeowners choose chemical drain cleaners to wash away the gunk. Bottles of these products are commonly found in cleaning aisles, 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, examine a few safer alternatives for cleaning clogged drains with no chemicals.

What are Chemical Drain Cleaners Used For?

Chemical drain cleaners are mostly used for clearing plumbing clogs. They are attractive 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 materials blocking the drain. They are often advertised as an easy and simple solution to handle persistent clogs and are sold at grocery stores, hardware stores and big box retailers.

How Do Drain Cleaners Work?

The specific reaction that occurs within the pipes depends on the type of drain cleaner being used. Here are some examples:

  • Acidic drain cleaners have sulfuric, muriatic or hydrochloric acid. This reacts with organic materials to make heat and gas, dissolving the clog. Acidic cleaners are very successful against hair clogs but must often be used more than once 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 removes clogs from the pipes while killing bacteria. As a result, oxidizing cleaners are the best against easy-to-break-down blockages 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 items.
  • Enzyme drain cleaners do not use chemicals. Instead, enzyme drain cleaners break down organic material utilizing bacteria or enzymes. However, they take more time to remove blockages than chemical drain cleaners due to the fact the bacteria or enzymes must have time to multiply. For this reason, enzyme drain cleaners work best as a preventative measure rather than a rapid drain-cleaning fix.

Is Drain Cleaner Safe?

While chemical drain cleaners are fairly effective, they do have risks. Here are a few key considerations:

  • Chemical drain cleaner is damaging to pipes. The heat produced by caustic and acidic drain cleaners can damage pipes, especially older or plastic ones, which can weaken and crack in the long run. Frequent use of these cleaners can lead to pricey repairs or replacements, as damaged pipes are more likely to leak or break.
  • Chemical drain cleaner can injure humans. The highly toxic chemicals in drain cleaner can trigger respiratory issues if inhaled, significant burns if touched, blindness if rubbed into the eyes or digestive concerns if ingested. Therefore, drain cleaner must be utilized with a lot of care.
  • Chemical drain cleaner is harmful to the planet. Dumping chemicals in the drain introduces toxic substances to local waterways, disrupting ecosystems, harming aquatic life and causing other environmentally damaging consequences.

Safer Alternatives to Drain Cleaner Chemicals

Fortunately, chemicals aren’t the only option94 for clearing stopped up drains. Here are a number of safer possibilities to consider:

  • Dish soap and hot water: Adding hot, soapy water to a sluggish drain helps break up grease and washes away minor blockages. The soap acts as a lubricant and emulsifier, while the hot water dissolves and washes out the clog. This strategy may call for a couple 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 produce a tight seal on top of the drain opening. Then, make forceful, consistent plunging motions until the water goes down the drain.
  • Drain snake: Also known as a plumber’s auger, this tool features a flexible cable with a corkscrew on the end. When put into the drain, the snake physically breaks up and obstacles. This method is extremely effective against stubborn clogs without damaging the pipes or creating any health risks.
  • Hydro-jetting: This professional service uses high-pressure water to blast away debris and gunk, offering a thorough cleaning that keeps future clogs at bay. Hydro-jetting requires a professional plumber’s assistance, but it’s the most powerful, 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 choices to protect your pipes, your family and the environment. If your DIY attempts prove fruitless, turn to Norrell Service Experts for professional drain cleaning services in Birmingham. We’ll get your drains draining again and suggest tips to help prevent clogs from returning. Our plumbers are eager to help, so call a Service Experts office near you today!

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