Are Chemical Drain Cleaners Safe to Use?

Unblocking a blocked drain can be unpleasant work, so many homeowners resort to chemical drain cleaners to wash away the gunk. Bottles of these cleaners are frequently found in cleaning closets, but are they really 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 removing debris from clogged drains without having to use chemicals.

What are Chemical Drain Cleaners Used For?

Chemical drain cleaners are mainly used for clearing plumbing clogs. They are attractive to homeowners because they’re practical, 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 materials blocking the drain. They are often promoted as an easy and simple solution to tackle stubborn clogs and are sold at grocery stores, hardware stores and big box retailers.

How Do Drain Cleaners Work?

The precise reaction that happens 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 produce heat and gas, dissolving the clog. Acidic cleaners are particularly efficient against hair clogs but must often be used over and over or in high concentrations to work.
  • Oxidizing drain cleaners contain bleach, peroxides or nitrates, which release oxygen when poured in the drain. Oxidation breaks down organic matter and cleans blockages from the pipes while killing bacteria. As a result, oxidizing cleaners are the best against easy-to-break-down substances like food.
  • Caustic drain cleaners contain lye or potassium hydroxide, which produces heat to break down and dissolve materials in the drain. The caustic nature of these cleaners allow them to dissolve fat, grease and other organic items.
  • Enzyme drain cleaners do not use chemicals. Instead, they break down organic material with bacteria or enzymes. However, they require more time to remove blockages than chemical drain cleaners because the bacteria or enzymes need time to multiply. As a result, enzyme drain cleaners work best as a maintenance measure rather than a speedy drain-cleaning fix.

Is Drain Cleaner Safe?

Even though chemical drain cleaners are somewhat effective, they do present risks. Here are a few key considerations:

  • Chemical drain cleaner is bad for pipes. The heat generated by caustic and acidic drain cleaners can inflict damage on pipes, especially older or plastic ones, which can become weak and crack with time. Repeated use of these cleaners can result in expensive repairs or replacements, as damaged pipes are susceptible to leak or break.
  • Chemical drain cleaner can harm people. The highly toxic chemicals in drain cleaner can result in respiratory issues if inhaled, severe burns if touched, blindness if rubbed into the eyes or digestive concerns if ingested. Therefore, drain cleaner must be handled with extreme care.
  • Chemical drain cleaner is harmful to the planet. Putting chemicals in the drain sends 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 choice for clearing blocked drains. Here are a number of safer possibilities to attempt:

  • Dish soap and hot water: Adding hot, soapy water to a slow-moving drain helps break up grease and washes away simple blockages. The soap acts as a lubricant and emulsifier, while the hot water dissolves and carries away the clog. This strategy may call for several attempts, but it’s safe and non-toxic.
  • Plunger: This manual drain-clearing approach forces blockages down the the pipe with no harmful chemicals. Fill the clogged sink or tub with an inch of water to help produce a tight seal over the drain opening. Then, make powerful, consistent plunging motions until the water drains away.
  • Drain snake: Also referred to as a plumber’s auger, this device involves a flexible cable with a corkscrew on the end. When put into the drain, the snake physically breaks up and removes obstacles. This method is very effective against persistent 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 at bay. Hydro-jetting requires a professional plumber’s assistance, but it’s the most efficient, long-lasting remedy for even the toughest clogs.

Schedule Professional Drain Cleaning Services

While chemical drain cleaners provide a quick remedy for little clogs, they present too many risks. Think about using safer, chemical-free solutions to protect your pipes, your household and the environment. If your DIY attempts don’t work, turn to Service Experts Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing for professional drain cleaning services in the U.S.. We’ll get your drains clear once again and suggest tips to stop clogs from returning. Our plumbers are ready to help, so contact a Service Experts office near you today!

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