As a new homeowner, I can tell you that things aren't always as simple as they appear. I started thinking about it a few years ago, and I realized that there were some serious problems with our plumbing system. We had issues with drains working correctly and toilets flushing like they should, so I started focusing more heavily on understanding the basics of our plumbing system. Within a few short months the entire system was operating more fluidly because of a few changes that I made, so I wanted to create a blog all about my journey. Check out these articles to learn more about the plumbing basics.
At the first sight of a serious clog, many households reach for a "miracle in a bottle" before calling the plumber. Liquid drain cleaners are a popular go-to for dealing with slow-moving or completely clogged drains. To the average person, it's a quick and relatively inexpensive way of clearing clogs. To your drains, however, it can be a nightmare.
How Liquid Drain Cleaners Affect Your Drains
Liquid drain cleaners work by eating away at the organic matter that's causing the clog. This calls for a variety of acidic or alkaline chemicals that are capable of dissolving hair, grease, and toilet tissue, among other organic matter. Alkaline drain cleaners often contain sodium hydroxide or potassium hydroxide, while acidic drain cleaners contain high concentrations of sulfuric acid as an active ingredient.
Needless to say, these chemicals can do a number on your drains and pipes, especially if you have older plumbing. Liquid drain cleaners can cause damage to stainless steel, aluminum, and porcelain surfaces, which explains why users must slowly and carefully pour the liquid directly into the drain. If your pipes are already damaged by rust and corrosion, liquid drain cleaners can make that problem worse.
Liquid drain cleaners can also wreak havoc on PVC pipes. The exothermic reaction caused by these chemicals can soften and even melt plastic plumbing.
How Liquid Drain Cleaners Affect You
It's not just your pipes that can be in harm's way when using liquid drain cleaners. Using these caustic chemicals can also expose you to a variety of health and safety risks. Liquid drain cleaners can cause burns upon contact with human skin and produce toxic gases that can seriously injure anyone who breathes said fumes by mistake.
Mixing two different kinds of liquid drain cleaner can also lead to a violent chemical reaction, leading to serious injuries for anyone in close proximity. If you must use these chemicals, you'll need gloves, eye protection, and ample ventilation to safeguard against these health and safety risks.
Alternatives to Consider
Instead of messing with dangerous drain cleaners, you're better off using a plunger to manually dislodge the clog. You can also use a plumbing snake to break through clogs that are too tough for a plunger's suction to dislodge. Natural alternatives like vinegar and baking soda offer a safer and equally effective way to bust stubborn clogs.
If all else fails, calling a seasoned plumber may be your best and only option left. Your plumber has the tools and expertise to deal with stubborn clogs and drain cleaning. For instance, your plumber may have a hydro-jetting tool on hand to blast through clogs.