Why Chemical Drain Cleaning Is Bad for Your Plumbing

Pros and Cons of Chemical Drain Cleaning

Plumbing clogs are nobody’s favourite, and when you find you have a clog, your first instinct is probably to get rid of it as quickly as possible. In your quest for a quick solution, you may reach for a liquid drain cleaner, but should you? Sure, it’s a quick and easy solution, because all you have to do is pour it into your drain and wait for the clog to dissolve. Drain cleaners are also inexpensive when compared to a plumber, and they do a really good job on removing food or hair buildup in your drains. The big question is, can drain cleaner damage pipes? Unfortunately, yes, and it can cause harm in other ways, too. This is one of those situations in which the cons outweigh the pros, so keep reading to learn more.

What to Know About Drain Cleaners

Drain Cleaning Tips by Eagerton PlumbingThe first important thing to understand is the mechanisms behind drain cleaners. Chemical drain cleaners work, as you might expect, by causing a chemical reaction between the ingredients in the cleaner and whatever is causing your clog. If the reaction works as intended, the clog will either dissolve or move along. However, chemical reactions can be unpredictable and dangerous, and the chemicals used in the cleaners can linger in your kitchen or bathroom plumbing. There are a few different types of chemical drain cleaners.

  • Acidic cleaners break down clogs with acid. They are typically made of sulfuric or muriatic acid and may need to be used several times to get rid of the clog. These drain cleaners are most often used to remove clogs caused by hair.
  • Oxidizing cleaners are not quite as harsh as acidic cleaners. They contain ingredients like bleach, peroxide, or nitrates, and they can require a significant amount of time to work. They are often not very effective, and work best when used on clogs made of something that’s easy to break down, like food.
  • Caustic cleaners are similar to acidic cleaners in how they work. Typically made of lye or potash, they have a much higher pH than acidic cleaners, and are best suited for removing grease clogs.

Why Use Chemical Drain Cleaners?

What are chemical drain cleaners used for? These products are appealing because they’re easy to use. Because they are heavier than water, they can easily sink through standing water in your sink or toilet plumbing and get to the clog, in order to break it down. The ingredients in drain cleaners are meant to decompose organic materials like hair and grease, but they can also cause problems not only for your pipes, but also for your health.

Chemicals Drain Cleaners are Bad for Pipes and People

How is drain cleaner bad for pipes? First, the combinations of chemicals used in the cleaners can burn through clogs, but the chemical reactions they cause can create heat and gas in your pipes. Especially if you have old plumbing, this can destroy your pipes. Then, too, if the problem is something liquid drain cleaner cannot handle, like tree roots in the plumbing, then all those chemicals are just left sitting in your pipes, eating away at them. And even if the pipes are not damaged immediately when you use drain cleaners, the cleaners leave residue that can cause future chemical reactions.

The chemicals are dangerous for people, too. They can splash on you, burning your skin and injuring your eyes, and in some cases, air pockets can be created that cause blow back from the pipes, resulting in injury to the person using the drain cleaner. What’s more, these products are not environmentally friendly. When they get through little cracks in the waste line, they can leach into the ground and harm organisms and plants there, even damaging tree roots. And when you throw away the bottle, it is likely to end up in a landfill, further damaging the internet.

Try Natural Solutions

If you have a clog and you are considering drain cleaner, try some simple, natural solutions first, like using a plunger, or a plumbing snake or auger. You can also make drain cleaners yourself, with materials you probably already have around your kitchen. Try a baking soda and vinegar rinse, for instance, giving it time to work and then rinsing it with boiling water.

Call in the Professionals

For over half a century, Eagerton Plumbing has been a leading provider of residential and commercial plumbing services in Jacksonville, Florida and the surrounding areas. Customers in Duval, Clay, Nassau, and St. Johns counties know they can rely on us not only for comprehensive plumbing services, but also for slab leak detection and repair, kitchen and bathroom remodeling, and more. No job is too big or too small, and we are here for our customers 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, offering exceptional customer service and reliable repair services, backed by service guarantees. All of our experienced plumbers are licensed, insured, and background checked, and we are committed to getting the job done right the first time, customizing an affordable solution to meet your needs and solve your plumbing problems. When you need a reliable plumber, any time of day or night, call 904.638.7979 or contact us through our website.