Are Chemical Drain Cleaners Safe to Use?
Unblocking a clogged drain can be unpleasant work, so many homeowners use chemical drain cleaners to wash away the crud. Bottles of these cleaners are frequently found in cleaning cabinets, but are they truly safe? Dive into the world of chemical drain cleaners, see how they function and learn why they’re hazardous. Then, explore a few safer alternatives for removing debris from clogged drains without having to use chemicals.
What are Chemical Drain Cleaners Used For?
Chemical drain cleaners are primarily used for clearing plumbing blockages. They are attractive to homeowners because they’re fast 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 stuff obstructing the drain. They are often advertised as an easy and effortless solution to handle persistent 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 depends on the type of drain cleaner being used. Here are several examples:
- Acidic drain cleaners contain sulfuric, muriatic or hydrochloric acid. This reacts with organic materials to produce heat and gas, dissolving the clog. Acidic cleaners are especially 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 down the drain. Oxidation breaks down organic matter and cleans obstructions from the pipes while eliminating bacteria. Because of this, oxidizing cleaners are most effective against easy-to-break-down blockages like food.
- Caustic drain cleaners contain lye or potassium hydroxide, which produces heat to break down and clear up materials clogging the drain. The caustic characteristics of these cleaners allow them to dissolve fat, grease and other organic materials.
- Enzyme drain cleaners do not have chemicals. Instead, these products break down organic material using bacteria or enzymes. However, they take more time to remove blockages than chemical drain cleaners given that the bacteria or enzymes need time to multiply. As a result, enzyme drain cleaners are most effective as a maintenance measure rather than a speedy drain-cleaning solution.
Is Drain Cleaner Safe?
While chemical drain cleaners are reasonably 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. Repeated use of these cleaners can result in costly repairs or replacements, as damaged pipes are susceptible to leak or rupture.
- Chemical drain cleaner can harm people. The highly toxic ingredients in drain cleaner can result in 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 planet. Dumping chemicals into the drain introduces toxic substances to local waterways, disrupting ecosystems, harming aquatic life and causing other environmentally harmful consequences.
Safer Alternatives to Drain Cleaner Chemicals
Thankfully, chemicals aren’t the only option94 for clearing clogged drains. Here are a number of safer alternatives to attempt:
- Dish soap and hot water: Flushing soapy, hot water into a slow drain helps break up grease and washes away simple blockages. The soap acts as a lubricant and emulsifier, while the hot water dissolves and disperses the clog. This tactic may require several attempts, but it’s safe and non-toxic.
- Plunger: This manual drain-clearing technique forces blockages from the pipe with no harmful chemicals. Fill the clogged sink or tub with an inch of water to help generate a tight seal over the drain opening. Then, make forceful, continuous 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 into the drain, the snake physically breaks up and removes obstructions. This method is extremely effective against persistent clogs without doing any damage to 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 efficient, long-lasting remedy for even the most difficult clogs.
Schedule Professional Drain Cleaning Services
While chemical drain cleaners provide a quick fix for slight clogs, they pose too many risks. Consider switching to safer, chemical-free choices to protect your pipes, your household and the environment. If your DIY fixes prove fruitless, turn to Stark Services for professional drain cleaning services in Fort Worth. We’ll get your drains draining again and recommend tips to stop clogs from returning. Our plumbers are ready to help, so reach out to a Service Experts office near you today!