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Plumbing Don’t’s: Using Chemical Drain Cleaners

chemical drain cleanersChemical drain cleaners seem to offer the ideal solution to a clogged drain: open a bottle, pour it down the drain and wait a few moments for the clog to disappear. In reality, however, the chemical approach has significant drawbacks in both the short and long term.

Here are some reasons to hesitate before using chemical drain cleaners:

  • Liquid drain openers induce a powerful chemical reaction that generates heat and expanding hydrogen gas inside the pipe to dissolve and dislodge the clog. Chemicals required to produce this reaction are caustic and corrosive to all materials, including your plumbing pipes. These include lye, potash, chlorine bleach and other potentially damaging corrosives.
  • Corrosive chemicals are indiscriminate: while they may help break up a clog, they also corrode and weaken permanent pipes and other components exposed to the chemicals as they pass through your plumbing. This can result in premature failure of pipes, requiring expensive replacement.
  • Chemical drain cleaners are potentially hazardous. Just read the label. The chemical reaction may cause the substance to erupt out of the drain, risking chemical burns for anyone contacted by the solution. Toxic fumes that are dangerous to inhale are also a hazard.
  • If the clog is not cleared (a frequent outcome) these caustic chemicals remain inside the pipe, continuing the damaging corrosive process and as well as posing a safety hazard.

There’s a Better Way

First try a simple plunger. Add about 3 to 6 inches of water to the sink and place the plunger over the drain so it seals against the sink surface. Plunge straight up and down for at least 20 seconds to build suction, then pull the plunger straight up off the drain to generate the strong final suction force inside the pipe.

If the clog persists, try again. Still no luck? Call a qualified plumber equipped with the professional tools and expertise to quickly and safely clear the clog without any potential damage to your pipes.

For an experienced perspective on using chemical drain cleaners to clear clogs, contact the plumbing pros at Beyer Boys.