Are Chemical Drain Cleaners Safe to Use?

Unblocking a blocked drain can be dirty work, so many homeowners use chemical drain cleaners to wash away the gunk. Bottles of these products are often found in cleaning aisles, but are they truly safe? Dive into the world of chemical drain cleaners, see how they clear blockages and learn why they’re hazardous. Then, take a look at some 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 appeal to homeowners because they’re practical and simple 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 substances blocking the drain. They are often promoted as an easy and convenient solution to fix persistent clogs and are sold at grocery stores, hardware stores and big box retailers.

How Do Drain Cleaners Work?

The precise reaction that occurs within the pipes varies depending on the type of drain cleaner being used. Here are several 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 efficient against hair clogs but must often be used repeatedly 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 clears clogs from the pipes while eliminating bacteria. Consequently, oxidizing cleaners are most effective against easy-to-break-down substances like food.
  • Caustic drain cleaners contain lye or potassium hydroxide, which generates heat to break down and break up materials inside the drain. The caustic characteristics of these cleaners allow them to dissolve fat, grease and other organic substances.
  • Enzyme drain cleaners don’t use chemicals. Instead, enzyme drain cleaners break down organic material utilizing bacteria or enzymes. However, they require more time to dissolve clogs than chemical drain cleaners because the bacteria or enzymes must have time to multiply. Because of this, enzyme drain cleaners work best as a maintenance measure rather than a speedy drain-cleaning fix.

Is Drain Cleaner Safe?

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

  • Chemical drain cleaner is not good for pipes. The heat generated by caustic and acidic drain cleaners can harm pipes, especially older or plastic ones, which can weaken and crack with time. Frequent use of these cleaners can cause pricey repairs or replacements, as damaged pipes are more likely to leak or break.
  • Chemical drain cleaner can injure people. 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 problems if ingested. Therefore, drain cleaner must be handled with great care.
  • Chemical drain cleaner is bad for the planet. Pouring chemicals in the drain sends toxic substances to local waterways, disrupting ecosystems, harming aquatic life and causing other environmentally damaging consequences.

Safer Alternatives to Drain Cleaner Chemicals

Luckily, chemicals aren’t the only solution94 for clearing stopped up drains. Here are several safer alternatives to consider:

  • Dish soap and hot water: Pouring hot, soapy water down a sluggish drain helps break up grease and washes away slight blockages. The soap acts as a lubricant and emulsifier, while the hot water dissolves and washes out the clog. This strategy may require a number of attempts, but it’s safe and non-toxic.
  • Plunger: This manual drain-clearing technique sends blockages out of the pipe without harmful chemicals. Fill the clogged sink or tub with an inch of water to help create a tight seal over the drain opening. Then, make strong, continuous plunging motions until the water goes down the drain.
  • Drain snake: Also called a plumber’s auger, this instrument uses a flexible cable with a corkscrew on the end. When inserted into the drain, the snake physically breaks up and removes blockages. This method is very effective against tenacious 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, delivering a thorough cleaning that keeps future clogs from reoccurring. Hydro-jetting requires a professional plumber’s assistance, but it’s the most powerful, long-lasting solution for even the most challenging clogs.

Schedule Professional Drain Cleaning Services

While chemical drain cleaners provide a quick fix for little clogs, they create too many risks. Think about using safer, chemical-free choices to protect your pipes, your family and the environment. If your DIY attempts prove fruitless, turn to Falso Service Experts for professional drain cleaning services in East Syracuse. We’ll get your drains flowing smoothly again and suggest tips to stop clogs from returning. Our plumbers are ready to help, so reach out to a Service Experts office near you today!

chat now widget box