Never Use Chemical Drain Cleaners To Clear Your Clogged Drains

You may have seen drain cleaners on store shelves marketed as eco-friendly, natural, green, or enzymatic cleaners. This isn't just a marketing strategy—chemical drain cleaners pose a big danger to the environment, your pipes, your septic system, and potentially, even you. You should never use chemical drain cleaners to clean your clogs. Choose enzymatic cleaners instead. Here are the two major types of chemical drain cleaners that you'll find and why it's a bad idea to use them in your home.

Alkaline-Based, Caustic Drain Cleaners

Most drain cleaners you'll find at the grocery store or in the hardware store have sodium hypochloride (bleach) as the main ingredient. Bleach is a highly alkaline substance that easily dissolves organic matter. That's why it's commonly used as a disinfectant. Manufacturers of drain cleaning products add other alkaline liquids and surfactants to increase the cleaning power of their products. The exact ingredients of most drain cleaning products are unknown (they are closely guarded trade secrets), so there's no way of telling what you're pouring into your pipes.

While caustic drain cleaning products are sometimes effective at removing clogs caused by hair and grease, they have the unfortunate side effect of corroding your pipes. The strong alkaline liquid damages the sides of your pipes, making them more likely to leak or burst. Drain cleaners can also corrode drain covers or plumbing fixtures, causing them to form ugly scratches and pits. In addition, using caustic drain cleaner poses a risk to plumbers. If your drain cleaner was unsuccessful in adequately clearing the clog in your drain and you need to call a professional plumber, make sure you inform them that you used a caustic drain cleaner. Bleach can cause chemical burns and eye injury. It also rapidly rusts the pipe snakes that plumbers use to clear clogs.

If you have a septic system, using a caustic drain cleaner is an even worse idea. Your septic system relies on helpful bacteria in your septic tank to break down solid waste, allowing liquids to flow freely into the drainfield. The main ingredient in most caustic cleaners is bleach, which is definitely not friendly to the bacteria in your septic tank! You'll reduce the level of bacteria in your tank and potentially cause your septic system to malfunction.

Specialty, Acid-Based Drain Cleaners

You'll find cleaners containing sulfuric acid or hydrochloric acid in plumbing specialty stores. They're meant to be used by professional plumbers to clear out the toughest clogs. Homeowners should not attempt to clean their drains using acid-based cleaners. Both sulfuric acid and hydrochloric acid are capable of causing severe acid burns and require protection to use safely, including a face mask. Inhaling the fumes from acid-based cleaners is hazardous to your health.

Only professionals have the training necessary to use these products in a safe manner. They are incredibly dangerous liquids and need to be handled with care. Sulfuric acid causes an extreme exothermic reaction when it mixes with water. If there's any water in your drain, the water will begin to boil, and the boiling water is sometimes capable of forcefully spewing sulfuric acid out of the drain, which can cause severe injury to anyone standing near the drain. In addition, using sulfuric acid after using a bleach-based cleaner containing sodium hypochloride will create chlorine gas. For your safety, you should leave usage of these products to trained professionals.

When you need to clean a drain in your home, choose enzymatic drain cleaners instead of using acid or alkaline solutions. Enzymatic drain cleaners contain bacteria, which rapidly multiply in your pipes and eat organic matter. This makes them very good at cleaning clogs caused by hair and grease, much like alkaline-based cleaners. They don't run the risk of damaging your pipes, either. If an enzymatic cleaner doesn't work to unclog your drain, call a professional plumber. Don't put your pipes, plumbers, and yourself at risk by escalating to strong chemical drain cleaners.

For more information, talk to companies like Jarrach Cesspools.