Chemical drain cleaners may seem like an easy solution for a clogged drain, but in most cases, they aren’t the best option. Our professional plumbers rarely use chemicals to clear drains, and don’t recommend them for our customers because they can cause damage to your plumbing system and put your safety in jeopardy when used improperly. Here are six good reasons to skip the chemicals, and either clear the clog with a manual technique or call in a pro to help.
#6 – They Can Damage Your Septic System
Without getting into the dirty details, your septic system relies on naturally occurring bacteria to break down waste. Chemical drain cleaners can kill these beneficial bacteria, disrupting the process and ultimately causing a failure of the system.
#5 – They Can Damage Your Pipes
Chemical drain cleaners generate heat to break down and remove clogs. This heat can soften PVC piping, and corrode older metal piping. The convenience factor of these products is a lot lower if you have to figure in the expense and inconvenience of replacing piping due to using them.
#4 – They Don’t Work On Every Clog
When it comes to the most stubborn clogs, chemical drain cleaners don’t always work. When this happens, you would have to bail out and flush all of the cleaner from the pipe. Letting it sit increases the chance of a problem with the pipes, and flushing the cleaner down the toilet increases the chance of a problem with the septic system, creating a lose-lose-lose situation all around.
#3 – They Can Ruin Your Wardrobe
Chemical drain cleaners are designed to eat through organic matter, and they don’t distinguish between a ball of hair in your drain and the sleeve of your shirt or the leg of your pants. At a minimum, you should wear protective gloves and glasses, and a covering over your clothes to prevent accidents – and if you usually go barefoot around the house, make an exception and wear sturdy shoes to protect your feet.
#2 – They Can Cause Serious Burns
I will spare you the images of people burned by chemical drain cleaners, but if you have a strong stomach you can always find them in a Google image search. Your skin and hair is organic material too, and drain cleaners can cause serious chemical burns. It doesn’t even take a big spill for this to happen – a drip down the side of the bottle, or acid splattering when it hits water can cause a reaction if they touch exposed skin.
#1 – Even Breathing These Fumes Is Dangerous
Any chemical drain cleaners should only be used in well-ventilated areas. The fumes are toxic and can burn your eyes and mucous membranes. Some forms of acid used in cleaners can smoke when they are added to water, putting more toxic fumes into the air. Children and pets should never be nearby if you choose to use these products, both for the risk of burns and because their smaller bodies absorb toxic fumes faster than an adult’s, making them more likely to experience adverse effects.
Bottom line: There are better ways to clear a clogged drain than adding harmful, toxic chemicals to your plumbing system. Check out this tutorial from about.com for tips on how to manually unclog a sink.
If you aren’t able to clear the clog manually, our plumbing professionals will be happy to assist you – just give us a call, or request an appointment online!