Are Chemical Drain Cleaners Safe to Use?

Unblocking a clogged drain can be unpleasant work, so many homeowners resort to chemical drain cleaners to wash away the crud. Bottles of these products are commonly found in cleaning closets, but are they completely safe? Dive into the world of chemical drain cleaners, find out how they clear blockages and learn why they’re hazardous. Then, examine a few of the safer alternatives for removing debris from clogged drains with no chemicals.

What are Chemical Drain Cleaners Used For?

Chemical drain cleaners are primarily used for clearing plumbing obstructions. They are often an attractive option for homeowners because they’re practical and simple 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 blocking the drain. They are often advertised as an easy and convenient solution to handle stubborn clogs and are sold at grocery stores, hardware stores and big box retailers.

How Do Drain Cleaners Work?

The exact reaction that occurs within the pipes will depend on on the type of drain cleaner being used. Here are a few examples:

  • Acidic drain cleaners contain sulfuric, muriatic or hydrochloric acid. This reacts with organic materials to create heat and gas, dissolving the clog. Acidic cleaners are very efficient against hair clogs but must often be used over and over or in high concentrations to do the job.
  • Oxidizing drain cleaners contain bleach, peroxides or nitrates, which release oxygen when poured down the drain. Oxidation breaks down organic matter and cleans obstructions from the pipes while eliminating bacteria. Consequently, oxidizing cleaners work very well against easy-to-break-down substances like food.
  • Caustic drain cleaners contain lye or potassium hydroxide, which creates heat to break down and break up materials inside the drain. The caustic traits of these cleaners allow them to dissolve fat, grease and other organic items.
  • Enzyme drain cleaners do not use chemicals. Instead, these products break down organic material utilizing bacteria or enzymes. However, they take more time to dissolve clogs than chemical drain cleaners due to the fact the bacteria or enzymes must have time to multiply. For this reason, enzyme drain cleaners are a good choice as a maintenance measure rather than a rapid drain-cleaning remedy.

Is Drain Cleaner Safe?

While chemical drain cleaners are reasonably effective, they do pose risks. Here are a few key considerations:

  • Chemical drain cleaner is not good for pipes. The heat generated by caustic and acidic drain cleaners can harm pipes, especially older or plastic ones, which can deteriorate and crack eventually. Frequent use of these cleaners can cause expensive repairs or replacements, as damaged pipes are susceptible to leak or burst.
  • Chemical drain cleaner can injure your family members. The highly toxic compounds 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 utilized with a lot of care.
  • Chemical drain cleaner is harmful to the planet. Putting chemicals into the drain transfers toxic substances to local waterways, disrupting ecosystems, harming aquatic life and causing other environmentally detrimental consequences.

Safer Alternatives to Drain Cleaner Chemicals

Thankfully, chemicals aren’t the only option94 for clearing blocked drains. Here are a number of safer possibilities to try:

  • Dish soap and hot water: Pouring hot, soapy water down a slow drain helps break up grease and washes away slight blockages. The soap acts as a lubricant and emulsifier, while the hot water dissolves and carries away the clog. This method may necessitate a couple attempts, but it’s safe and non-toxic.
  • Plunger: This manual drain-clearing approach sends blockages from the pipe without the need for harmful chemicals. Fill the clogged sink or tub with an inch of water to help generate a tight seal around the drain opening. Then, make powerful, consistent plunging motions until the water goes down the drain.
  • Drain snake: Also known as a plumber’s auger, this instrument features a flexible cable with a corkscrew on the end. When put down the drain, the snake physically breaks up and removes obstructions. This method is very effective against tenacious clogs without doing any damage to the pipes or creating any health risks.
  • Hydro-jetting: This professional service uses high-pressure water to blast away debris and obstructions, providing a thorough cleaning that keeps future clogs from reoccurring. Hydro-jetting requires a professional plumber’s assistance, but it’s the most effective, long-lasting solution for even the toughest clogs.

Schedule Professional Drain Cleaning Services

While chemical drain cleaners offer a quick remedy for minor clogs, they pose too many risks. Think about using safer, chemical-free choices to protect your pipes, your loved ones and the environment. If your DIY fixes don't do the job, turn to Komfort Air Service Experts for professional drain cleaning services in Charlotte. We’ll get your drains flowing smoothly again and recommend tips to stop clogs from returning. Our plumbers are prepared to help, so reach out to a Service Experts office near you today!