Are Chemical Drain Cleaners Safe to Use?

Unblocking a plugged drain can be unpleasant work, so many homeowners choose chemical drain cleaners to wash away the gunk. Bottles of these chemicals are frequently found in cleaning aisles, but are they truly safe? Dive into the world of chemical drain cleaners, learn how they clear blockages and learn why they’re hazardous. Then, explore some safer alternatives for clearing clogged drains with no 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 quick and straight forward 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 obstructing the drain. They are often advertised as an easy and convenient solution to fix 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 will depend on 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 create heat and gas, dissolving the clog. Acidic cleaners are particularly efficient 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 poured down the drain. Oxidation breaks down organic matter and cleans blockages from the pipes while eliminating bacteria. As a result, oxidizing cleaners work very well against easy-to-break-down materials like food.
  • Caustic drain cleaners contain lye or potassium hydroxide, which creates heat to break down and dissolve materials in the drain. The caustic characteristics of these cleaners allow them to dissolve fat, grease and other organic items.
  • Enzyme drain cleaners do not use chemicals. Instead, enzyme drain cleaners break down organic material with bacteria or enzymes. However, they require more time to work than chemical drain cleaners due to the fact the bacteria or enzymes must have time to multiply. For this reason, enzyme drain cleaners are most effective as a preventative measure rather than a fast drain-cleaning remedy.

Is Drain Cleaner Safe?

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

  • Chemical drain cleaner is damaging to pipes. The heat created by caustic and acidic drain cleaners can damage pipes, especially older or plastic ones, which can weaken and crack in the long run. Frequent use of these cleaners can cause pricey repairs or replacements, as damaged pipes are more prone to leak or rupture.
  • Chemical drain cleaner can harm your family members. The highly toxic compounds in drain cleaner can result in respiratory issues if inhaled, significant burns if touched, blindness if rubbed into the eyes or digestive complications if ingested. Therefore, drain cleaner must be used with extreme care.
  • Chemical drain cleaner is dangerous to the planet. Dumping 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

Fortunately, chemicals aren’t the only choice94 for clearing clogged drains. Here are a few safer alternatives to consider:

  • Dish soap and hot water: Flushing soapy, hot water into a slow-moving 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 tactic may necessitate a number of attempts, but it’s safe and non-toxic.
  • Plunger: This manual drain-clearing approach forces blockages down the the pipe without harmful chemicals. Fill the clogged sink or tub with an inch of water to help create a tight seal on top of the drain opening. Then, make strong, continuous plunging motions until the water drains away.
  • Drain snake: Also referred to as a plumber’s auger, this tool uses a flexible cable with a corkscrew on the end. When inserted into the drain, the snake physically breaks up and blockages. This method is extremely 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 buildup, providing a thorough cleaning that keeps future clogs from reoccurring. Hydro-jetting requires a professional plumber’s assistance, but it’s the most efficient, long-lasting option for even the most challenging clogs.

Schedule Professional Drain Cleaning Services

While chemical drain cleaners present a quick fix for small clogs, they present too many risks. Think about using safer, chemical-free solutions to protect your pipes, your loved ones and the environment. If your DIY fixes prove fruitless, turn to R & M Climate Control Service Experts for professional drain cleaning services in Knoxville. We’ll get your drains draining again and offer you tips to stop clogs from returning. Our plumbers are prepared to help, so contact a Service Experts office near you today!

chat now widget box