Your first impulse might be to reach for the bottle of chemical drain cleaner under your sink when you have a stubborn plumbing clog to deal with. Unfortunately, relying on these chemicals has its risks that we at The Original $49.95 Plumber would like to stress today.
What is the Function of Chemical Drain Cleaner?
There are two primary types of chemical drain cleaners, Oxidizing and Caustic.
Caustic Drain Cleaners: With alkaline chemicals, this uses a slightly different approach with hydroxide ions. The ions and chemicals work in tandem to create an immense amount of heat and transform the blockage into a soapy, sudsy substance.
Oxidizing Drain Cleaners: To remove clogs, nitrates dissolve organic material in the clog as the intense gas and heat help remove grease and dislodge the blockage.
What are the Hazards of a Chemical Drain Cleaner?
Chemical drain cleaners perform potentially dangerous chemical reactions, unlike the spray that de-greases your stove or the liquid cleaner that cleans your toilet bowl. You do not want any substance that can melt organic material or create a lot of heat extremely fast making contact with your body. Accidents with drain cleaners occur every year, tragically. According to studies, an estimated 3,000 injuries in the United States annually is caused by drain cleaners and 1/3rd of those injured involved cutaneous burns.
What Harmful Chemicals are in Drain Cleaner?
Concentrated sulfuric acid and sodium hydroxide are the two ingredients, in particular that make many chemical drain cleaners risky to use.
Sodium Hydroxide: This is a highly corrosive substance. When it’s dissolved in water, it releases a lot of heat and at a solid at room temperature. Skin, eye, and mucous membrane irritation and lead to more severe problems like hair loss and skin and eye burns can be caused from sodium hydroxide exposure.
Sulfuric Acid: According to studies, it will char wood and most other organic matter on contact since it is a corrosive liquid. You can end up with a severe injury if that mixture touches your skin or eyes as this substance can get extremely hot when it touches water.
Why Chemical Drain Cleaners are Not Safe for Pipes?
Chemical drain cleaners can also damage your home’s plumbing with repeated use along with posing a risk to your safety. If the drain cleaner fails to remove a clog, this damage can happen faster. You then have two problems if the drain cleaner doesn’t get rid of the blockage. You will have extremely hot, corrosive liquid sitting on top of it in your pipe and still have the clog. The pipe material is weakened, which makes it more susceptible to leaks, due to the intense heat and the caustic chemicals.
How Do You Clean Drains Without Chemicals?
Being more effective at removing stubborn clogs, especially the ones deep down in the drains, professional drain cleaning methods are safer and better for your plumbing than chemical drain cleaners.
Minor Clogs: A plumber can clear the drain with a drain snake, which is known as snaking or cabling.
Excessive Clogs: Hydrojetting is generally a better long-term solution if your home is experiencing a lot of clogs and buildup in the drains and sewer line. Your plumber will guide a hose with high-powered water jets through your drains to blast away blockages and debris using a commercial-strength machine.