Drain Cleaners are Less Effective and More Dangerous Than You Think
The first thing most people reach for when they have a clogged drain is some type of liquid drain cleaner. While these products may work sometime, they aren’t always effective at clearing clogs. Even worse, drain cleaners can be dangerous to use and pose a significant health risk to your family, pets, and the environment.
Drain Cleaners Aren’t Always Effective
Most drain cleaners advertise that they clear, dissolve or destroy clogs and some even offer a money back guarantee. While drain cleaners do contain powerful caustic chemicals, they really need to come in direct contact with the clog in order to work effectively.
Unfortunately, your drains or pipes have already started to back up by the time you realize there is a problem. Drain cleaners are unlikely to reach the clog or become diluted before they do. Even gel products designed to sink down to clogs are unlikely to make it passed bends or angles in pipes.
Without direct contact, they just aren’t very effective at unclogging drains. In fact, Consumer Reports found that most drain cleaners are less likely to clear a clog than other methods. They also noted that “heavy duty” and “professional strength” products were less effective than standard strength products.
Drain Cleaners Can Be Dangerous To Your Health
Drain cleaners contain caustic chemicals like lye and hydrochloric acid that are dangerous to humans and pets. They can irritate or even burn if they come in contact with your skin and they are extremely poisonous if ingested. Even the fumes can damage the soft tissue of your eyes, nose, and throat.
They are most dangerous as they are being poured into drains, but they are still dangerous afterward. Because they aren’t always effective, it’s not uncommon to try using a snake or a plunger as well. This increases the chance of being splashed by these chemicals. Never mix liquid drain cleaners, as this may cause dangerous chemical reactions.
If you do choose to use drain cleaners, it’s strongly recommended that you wear rubber gloves, protective eyewear, a respirator, long sleeves, pants, and close-toed shoes while using these chemicals.
Drain Cleaners May Damage Your Plumbing
Although the caustic chemicals in drain cleaners are intended to dissolve clogs, they can also corrode plumbing fixtures with repeated or excessive use. They are most likely to cause cosmetic damage to drain covers, sinks, bathtubs, and showers, but may speed up the deterioration of already weakened drain pipes and other plumbing fixtures.
Safe Alternatives to Liquid Drain Cleaners
Plunger: When it comes to fixing clogs, the plunger is one of the most versatile tools at your disposal. Plungers created upward suction and downward pressure that can usually dislodge a clog in as little as a minute. They’re inexpensive, reusable, non-toxic, and easy to clean too.
Drain Snakes: A drain snake is great at pulling clogs out of drains and pipes. They are usually inexpensive, but you can always make your own out of an old wire hanger. Just disassemble it, bend a hook into the end, and fish around in your drain.
Vinegar and Baking Soda: Pour a half cup each of these two common household items down the drain and wait a few minutes and rinse with hot water. The foaming action they create can usually dislodge clogs enough to flush them down the drain. Plus, they are non-toxic and won’t damage your plumbing.
Drain Still Clogged? Call the Professionals
If these safe alternatives are unable to unclog your drain or you continue to have backups, you may have a sewer or another plumbing issue. In order to prevent significant water damage in the future, call our local sewage cleanup and plumbing professionals at 1-888-443-3110 to have your drains and sewer lines inspected and cleaned.