Why Chemical Drain Cleaners are Bad for Your Plumbing

When dealing with a clogged drain, we often head straight towards our chemical drain cleaner and immediately pour it down the clogged pipe. Chemical drain cleaners may seem like the perfect solution, but cleaning your clog isn’t the only thing they can do. There are some risks involved when using drain cleaners in your household pipes.

Generally speaking, the more you use drain cleaners, the more your pipes can become damaged over time. Let’s take a look at why drain cleaners are damaging and how alternative solutions are beneficial.

Chemical Drain Cleaners are Bad for Plumbing

As one of the most popular methods of clearing clogged pipes,  drain cleaners may seem like a quick and easy solution to a stubborn clog. However, not all drain cleaners are safe for pipes. The chemicals used in drain cleaners need to be strong in order to dissolve drain clogs.

Once applied to a clogged drain, these chemicals react with electrons in the blockage to generate heat and gas, therefore dissolving the clog and clearing the drain. Because of their high toxicity levels, these products are hazardous to your health if inhaled or swallowed.

Different Types of Drain Cleaners

Generally speaking, chemical drain cleaners come in various forms, including gel, liquid, and powder. If your pipes are old, lye, trichloroethane, and other harsh chemicals can do more harm than good. There are three basic types of chemical drain cleaners:

1. Acid drain cleaners – This type of drain cleaner isn’t commonly found in stores and is instead purchased by licensed plumbers. Because they contain large quantities of sulfuric or hydrochloric acid, they are extremely dangerous for your health. Furthermore, they can cause damage to your pipes if used incorrectly.

2. Caustic drain cleaners – This solution erodes the typical “gunk” that makes up most common clogs. It’s typically used for more heavy duty clogs that require dissolving the substance.

3. Oxidizing cleaner – Bleach and nitrates are used to clear blockages by causing organic material to lose electrons and become oxidized. In general, this solution is best for food-based blockages in kitchen sinks.

DIY Drain Maintenance

Drain cleaners dissolve blockages in your pipes with a chemical reaction. In doing so, they are often so powerful that they damage your pipes and even melt right through plastic plumbing in PVC in some cases. Instead, let’s take a look at DIY solutions to clear a clogged drain without causing any harm:

  • Pour half a cup of baking soda down the drain followed by half a cup of vinegar. Let it sit overnight then flush the drain with hot water. This method can be used with regular drain maintenance at least once per month.
  • Mix baking soda with salt or lemon juice and pour it down the drain. Let it sit for up to an hour and if you need to shift the blockage, pour boiling water down the drain.
  • Pour very hot (not boiling) water down the drain followed by cool water to flush out the clog.
  • Use a drain snake.

DIY Not Working? Call Ihn Company.

No one wants to wake up or come home to a clogged drain. We understand how inconvenient a really bad clog can get, so call the professionals at Ihn Company. We have serviced Southeastern Wisconsin with our commercial and residential plumbing repair for over 30 years. You can trust us to do quality work and put your worries at ease. Contact us today!