Issues with Harsh Chemical Drain Cleaners

Of the most frequent home plumbing issues out there, the clogged drain is perhaps the single most common. Whether in the toilet, the shower, the sink or any other water drain in your home, a clogged drain can be both frustrating and costly in some cases.

At My Buddy the Plumber, we offer a full range of drain cleaning services among our various plumbing repairs. But we’re also here to offer expertise – not every drain clog requires a full-service professional cleaning necessarily. However, the default tool here for many homeowners is often a harsh drain chemical – here are some important points on the risks of these chemicals and why you might consider alternatives instead.
issues chemical drain cleaners

Ingredients in Chemical Cleaners

While most chemical drain cleaners are highly effective, this is because many of them contain sodium hydroxide. Also called caustic soda or lye, this product may be replaced in certain cleaners by sulfuric acid.

Both these products are highly corrosive, meant to break down various materials. They’re base chemicals, meaning they provide electrons and then hydroxide ions react to this to clear the clog. Heat is released, allowing for grease and other blockages to turn into a soap-like substance that dissolves more easily. There are also other cleaners that use bleach, peroxides and nitrates as part of their solutions.

Impact of Chemicals

One thing no one is debating here: These chemicals are effective at clearing drain clogs. But the problem is, they’re often just as effective at beginning to break down other materials present – namely your pipes. The heat and reactions caused by these cleaners will soften PPVC pipes and will directly corrode and eat away at older metals, which can lead to major leak and bursting risks.

On top of this, the chemicals in drain cleaners are not very healthy overall. They’re dangerous to the skin, both during their use and if they’re commonly used in drains that run to and from the shower or sinks.

And finally, chemical drain cleaners often mask larger issues in your plumbing system. Your clogs may be due to something like a backed up sewer line or a broken pipe, but you’ll never know if the default solution is just hitting the clog with a big glass of chemicals every time.

Alternatives for Clogged Drains

You have a few options at your disposal for cleaning the drain without harsh chemicals:

  • Pour a pot of boiling water down the drain, then quickly follow it with cold water. This will first heat the clog and make it more malleable, then help flush it down quickly.
  • Pour a half-cup of baking soda down the drain, then a half-cup of vinegar. Let this mixture sit overnight, then flush the drain with hot water in the morning.
  • If neither of these work, you might require professional drain cleaning services from our pros.

For more on our drain cleaning services, or to learn about any of our plumbing or HVAC offerings, speak to the pros at My Buddy the Plumber in Salt Lake City today.