Are Chemical Drain Cleaners Safe to Use?
Unblocking a blocked drain can be dirty work, so many homeowners resort to chemical drain cleaners to wash away the gunk. Bottles of these chemicals are frequently found in cleaning closets, but are they really safe? Dive into the world of chemical drain cleaners, find out how they clear blockages and learn why they’re hazardous. Then, examine a few safer alternatives for removing debris from clogged drains without chemicals.
What are Chemical Drain Cleaners Used For?
Chemical drain cleaners are mostly used for clearing plumbing blockages. They are often an attractive option for homeowners because they’re practical and simple to use and offer good results, at least at first. These cleaners are available in liquid, gel, or powder form and break down hair, grease, food and other substances hindering the flow of water through the drain. They are often marketed as an easy and convenient solution to handle stubborn clogs and are sold at grocery stores, hardware stores and big box retailers.
How Do Drain Cleaners Work?
The precise reaction that takes place within the pipes varies depending on the type of drain cleaner being used. Here are a few 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 especially efficient against hair clogs but must often be used more than once or in high concentrations to do the job.
- Oxidizing drain cleaners contain bleach, peroxides or nitrates, which are substances that release oxygen when put down the drain. Oxidation breaks down organic matter and removes obstructions from the pipes while destroying bacteria. Because of this, oxidizing cleaners are the best against easy-to-break-down blockages like food.
- Caustic drain cleaners contain lye or potassium hydroxide, which creates heat to break down and dissolve materials inside the drain. The caustic traits of these cleaners allow them to dissolve fat, grease and other organic items.
- Enzyme drain cleaners do not contain chemicals. Instead, these products break down organic material utilizing bacteria or enzymes. However, they require more time to remove blockages than chemical drain cleaners given that the bacteria or enzymes must have time to multiply. For this reason, enzyme drain cleaners are a good choice as a maintenance measure rather than a fast drain-cleaning remedy.
Is Drain Cleaner Safe?
Although chemical drain cleaners are fairly effective, they do present risks. Here are a few key issues to consider:
- Chemical drain cleaner is damaging to pipes. The heat created by caustic and acidic drain cleaners can inflict damage on pipes, especially older or plastic ones, which can deteriorate and crack over time. Regular use of these cleaners can cause costly repairs or replacements, as damaged pipes are more likely to leak or rupture.
- Chemical drain cleaner can injure your family members. The highly toxic ingredients in drain cleaner can trigger respiratory issues if inhaled, severe burns if touched, blindness if rubbed into the eyes or digestive complications if ingested. Therefore, drain cleaner must be used with a lot of care.
- Chemical drain cleaner is bad for the planet. Pouring chemicals into the drain introduces toxic substances to local waterways, disrupting ecosystems, harming aquatic life and causing other environmentally detrimental impacts.
Safer Alternatives to Drain Cleaner Chemicals
The good news is, chemicals aren’t the only solution94 for clearing stopped up drains. Here are several safer possibilities to consider:
- Dish soap and hot water: Adding hot, soapy water to 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 disperses the clog. This method may require several attempts, but it’s safe and non-toxic.
- Plunger: This manual drain-clearing approach sends blockages out of the pipe with no harmful chemicals. Fill the clogged sink or tub with an inch of water to help make a tight seal around the drain opening. Then, make powerful, regular plunging motions until the water drains away.
- Drain snake: Also known as 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 obstructions. This method is extremely effective against tenacious clogs and doesn't damage the pipes or creating any health risks.
- Hydro-jetting: This professional service uses high-pressure water to blast away debris and obstructions, offering 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 remedy for even the most challenging clogs.
Schedule Professional Drain Cleaning Services
While chemical drain cleaners provide a quick remedy for minor clogs, they create too many risks. Consider using safer, chemical-free alternatives to protect your pipes, your household and the environment. If your DIY fixes don't do the job, turn to Midway Services for professional drain cleaning services in Clearwater. We’ll get your drains clear once again and offer you tips to help prevent clogs from returning. Our plumbers are eager to help, so call a Service Experts office near you today!