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Use Sparingly: What You Need to Know About Drain Clearing Chemicals
One of the results of people spending more time at home and disinfecting household surfaces more frequently is that people are clogging their toilets way more often. Plumbers have discovered items like paper towels and cleaning wipes in P-traps across America!
If you’re one of the unlucky folks who are stuck with clogged drains, you may be wondering which drain clearing chemicals are safest to use.
The truth is that even though you can find a ton of drain clearing products at your local grocery store, they may not be your best option. When in doubt, call a plumber who can clear your drains the right way!
In the meantime, let’s talk about everything you need to know before you pour those drain clearing chemicals into your pipes.
The Types of Drain Clearing Chemicals
You should know that not all drain cleaners are alike. There are three main kinds of drain clearing chemicals in commercially available drain cleaners. Let’s take a look at what they are and how they work.
Caustic Drain Cleaners
Caustic drain cleaners include ingredients such as lye. These cleaners are designed to give electrons to the substances that are causing the clog. This creates a reaction that releases heat and transforms grease into a thin, filmy substance that will then dissolve.
Oxidizing Drain Cleaners
Oxidizing cleaners include ingredients such as bleach and nitrates. These ingredients actually take electrons from organic materials. This creates a reaction that causes the clog to become oxidized, and released heat and gas help push the clog through the drain.
Acid Drain Cleaners
Acid drain cleaners are the harshest of the three types and aren’t as easy to find in stores. They contain high amounts of sulphuric or hydrochloric acid, chemicals that must be used with caution.
When the acid interacts with the materials in the clog to create hydronium ions. This reaction creates heat that melts the grease and other congealed materials clogging the drain.
Hazardous For Your Pipes
Because these drain clearing chemicals tend to generate heat during the reaction, they can cause damage to your pipes.
Most newer pipes are constructed from PVC, meaning that they are made from a thick plastic material. When exposed to heat, this plastic can warp at best or melt and split open at worst.
Older pipes are not much safer from the side effects of drain clearing chemicals. Metal will also warp under concentrated heat, which causes structural weakness. Between the use of these chemicals and the repeated pressure of water drainage, metal pipes can undergo reactions that cause them to crack or break open.
If you use store-bought drain clearing chemicals once and follow the directions, you may not see these negative side effects. However, using them again and again or failing to follow the instructions will lead to a messy, expensive problem.
Hazardous For Your Health
Structural damage isn’t the only concern when dealing with chemicals. They can also create serious health issues that shouldn’t be taken lightly.
When you pour chemicals down the drain, you risk releasing toxic fumes into the air. If you don’t have proper ventilation, this could lead to respiratory issues that make it difficult or dangerous to breathe.
Certain chemicals, especially acidic chemicals, can also cause damage if they end up on your skin or in your eyes. In fact, chemical burns aren’t just caused by acid. Basic household chemicals like bleach can burn your skin, causing intense pain and requiring immediate medical attention.
In order to stay safe while using these chemicals, make sure you follow the suggested protocol. Wear gloves and eye protection and open nearby windows to allow for better airflow. Make sure that any pets or children have cleared the area before releasing these chemicals into your home environment.
To ensure maximum safety, never mix two different cleaners. This can cause an extremely toxic chemical reaction. You should also avoid plunging any drains immediately after applying chemical cleaners.
Do These Chemicals Really Work?
There are plenty of risk factors in play when you use drain clearing chemicals. Because of this, it’s important to ask yourself if they’ll do the job. Are they worth it?
When you’re dealing with a particularly nasty clog, you may find that the chemicals don’t clear the clog. Instead, they loosen it and it moves further down the drain. This makes it much harder to reach, whether you’re attempting to plunge or you’re opening up the pipes.
When you hire a plumber, they can assess the situation before they decide on a solution. How dense is the clog? How deep is it within your pipes? A professional drain cleaning is a much safer and more precise way to go for most scenarios.
This assessment will determine whether the problem should be addressed from above or from within. Properly administered chemicals could do the trick, as could a snaking tool. However, sometimes it’s best to dismantle the plumbing and remove the clog directly.
Find a Plumber Near You
If you decide to use drain clearing chemicals, make sure you do your research first and follow the instructions. However, if a clog is too tough for a plunger, it’s in your best interest to get a professional involved.
Do you have a tough clog in the New Orleans area? National Economy Plumbers are here to help!
Contact us today to work with a licensed plumber. We can unclog your drain, repair your sewer line, service your water heater, and more! We’ve been in business for 80 years because Louisiana residents know that they can trust a National Economy Plumber.
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