That chemical drain cleaner promises to clear your clog. But how does it actually work? Did you know it can potentially cause damage? Learn before your pour!
Every homeowner has been there. You’re taking a shower and you find yourself standing ankle-deep in water.
Your drain is clogged, but how should you fix it? There are many options to get your drain unclogged, but some can be better than others.
One option is to use a chemical drain cleaner. Continue reading to learn how liquid drain cleaners work and how to avoid damaging your plumbing system.
Types of Chemical Drain Cleaner
There are many types of chemical drain cleaner that you can use in a wide variety of situations. Most of the time, a small clog will only require a caustic or oxidizing drain cleaner, but major clogs can require an acidic cleaner.
Caustic drain cleaners contain ingredients such as lye that give electrons to the material causing the clog. This creates a chemical reaction that produces heat and makes grease thinner and easier to dissolve.
They are most useful for drains that have been clogged with greases such as a kitchen sink or grease trap.
Oxidizing drain cleaners are similar to caustic ones, but there is a small difference. Instead of giving electrons, they take electrons from organic matter in a process called oxidation.
They contain ingredients like bleach and nitrates, and they are some of the most popular types of liquid drain cleaner. They work by combining with water to produce heat and dissolve the clogged material.
Since they work well on organic matter, oxidizing drain cleaners are useful for shower drains, toilets, or bathroom sinks to get rid of hair and any other material that might be causing a clog.
Acidic drain cleaners are the harshest type and are very seldom used. They contain ingredients like sulphuric or hydrochloric acid and work by creating hydronium ions in a chemical reaction with the clogged material.
This type of cleaner should only be used in the worst-case scenarios. They can be very harmful not only to your plumbing system but also to your health.
Issues with Chemical Drain Cleaners
Because most chemical drain cleaners generate heat in a chemical reaction, they can damage your plumbing system. Most newer pipes are made of PVC plastic which can warp or melt with too much heat.
Even if your pipes are not made of PVC, metal pipes can also bulge from too much heat. Over time, heat and pressure can cause metal pipes to crack or burst.
If your plumbing system includes a septic tank, chemical drain cleaners are never a good choice. Septic tanks use bacteria to break down organic material, but harsh chemicals can kill the bacteria in your tank, making them ineffective.
In addition to the damage to your plumbing system, chemical drain cleaners can be harmful to your health. When you use them, you’re releasing lots of harsh chemical fumes into the air which you then breathe in.
These harsh chemical fumes can be even worse if the area in which you’re working is not well ventilated, such as in your bathroom. Breathing in the chemicals for long periods of time or in large amounts can damage your respiratory system.
Repeated exposure to harsh chemicals can also cause brain damage over time.
In addition to possible respiratory issues, the chemicals in drain cleaners can damage your skin or eyes. Since most of them are supposed to react with organic matter, they have no problem reacting with these parts of your body.
They can cause chemical burns or even blindness if used improperly. It is important to always wear gloves when handling these chemicals. It is also a good idea to wear eye protection or a mask to protect yourself against severe eye damage.
Alternatives to Chemical Drain Cleaner
There are many alternatives to using a liquid drain cleaner, whether you want to try some simple methods at home or use a professional drain cleaning service.
One thing you can try is hot and cold water. First, pour very hot water down the drain to make the clogged material easier to flush down the pipe. Then, pour cold water to flush it through.
Another idea you can use is baking soda and vinegar. This works similarly to the commercial chemical drain cleaners in that it relies on a chemical reaction, but it doesn’t require anything more than household items.
First, pour the baking soda down the drain followed by the vinegar, and let it sit overnight. This will cause a chemical reaction that will help dissolve the clog. The next morning, flush it with water to get the clog out.
If neither of these methods work, you can try a plunger or drain snake. Almost everyone has a plunger they can use, but a drain snake is a little less common. In either case, they can be good alternatives to resorting to chemical drain cleaners.
If your drain is clogged with hair, which is typical in showers or bathroom sinks, you can try to get the hair out manually. Depending on the kind you have, you may be able to get more access to the clog by removing the drain cover.
Try using a small, hooked object such as a clothes hanger to remove the hair. It may not get all of the hair out, but it can be a temporary fix to clear your drain a little.
If none of these methods work, it may be time to contact your local plumber. They have professional methods and tools for clearing clogged drains.
If your drain is clogged and you need help fixing it, give us a call at (402) 731-2727. We can find a solution for all of your plumbing needs.
Now that you know all about the types of chemical drain cleaners, their issues, and their alternatives, feel free to do some more research on your own to learn more. If you liked this article, please check out some of our other articles!