Are Chemical Drain Cleaners Safe?

19 August 2015
 Categories: Construction & Contractors, Blog

Chemical drain cleaners are available in grocery stores, pharmacies and home improvement centers everywhere, yet many homeowners have questions about the safety of these products. These answers to common questions can help homeowners decide whether or not chemical drain cleaners are right for them. 

Q: Are chemical drain cleaners safe?

A: Chemical drain cleaners can cause damage to pipes. It helps to use the drain cleaners only as directed. However, drain cleaners generate heat within pipes. If left sitting in a plastic pipe, drain cleaners can cause the pipe to melt. In addition, older metal pipes may be easily corroded by a chemical drain cleaner.

When chemical drain cleaners are used in homes with septic systems, these products can kill the useful bacteria that enables the breakdown of the solids within the system, leading to clogs and dysfunction. 

Chemical drain cleaners can also be poisonous if swallowed, and may not be safe to use in households with small children. 

Q: Are there advantages to using chemical drain cleaners?

A: These products are widely available and relatively inexpensive to purchase. Chemical drain cleaners can be used by virtually anyone. 

Q: What are the alternatives to chemical drain cleaners?

A: Homeowners who want to clean their drains themselves can use a manual plumber's auger. Augers are sold at home improvement centers and hardware stores. An auger can be used to clean a drain by sending the auger's stiff cable down the pipe. The cable drills a hole through the clog. When the cable is drawn back up, the clog is stuck to the end of the cable. 

Homeowners who don't have a plumber's auger can call a plumber for professional drain cleaning, or rent an electric drain snake from a home improvement center. 

Q: How can you avoid clogs?

A: You can safely maintain your drains in a variety of ways. Use drain filters whenever possible to catch hair, food and waste that might otherwise go down the drain. You can also clean your own drains before they become clogged by using safe products you probably already keep on hand. Vinegar is an acidic liquid that can help eat through material caught in your drains. In addition, baking soda mixed with boiling water can help dislodge clogs. Pouring either of these products down your drains on a regular basis will help keep your drains open and clean.

For more information about chemical drain cleaners, natural drain cleaners and professional drain cleaning speak with a plumber, like Lowry Services: Electric, Plumbing, Heating & Cooling, today.