We understand calling a plumber may not be the first thing you want to do when faced with a clogged drain. You may attempt to fix the clog on your own or turn to a tutorial or DIY site for advice. We appreciate your efforts and commend you for your resourcefulness. We love your go-getter, “take the bull by the horns” attitude, except when it creates more serious problems for you in the future. Chemical drain cleaners may seem like a great idea when you're standing in 4 inches of water or just trying to get your kitchen sink to drain, but we are here to give you the whole story.
Getting to Know Your Chemical Drain Cleaners
There are three main kinds of chemical drain cleaners on the market today, Caustic, Oxidizing and Acidic. All three make up the most hazardous household chemicals you can buy today, and we keep pouring them down our drains.
Caustic drain cleaners contain alkaline chemicals such as caustic potash or lye that produce heat to make tough clogs more pliable and easily dissolved. They are heavier than water, enabling them to work on slow moving drains or standing water.
Oxidizing drain cleaners cause the organic material in a clog to oxidize and can contain peroxides, nitrates and even household bleach. Also heavier than water, oxidizing drain cleaners release gas and heat to clear the clog.
Acidic drain cleaners are so dangerous that they are often only available to licensed plumbers. They contain high levels of sulfuric acid and react chemically with the clog. Acidic drain cleaners also create gas and heat to clear the clog.
The Moral of the Story:
Chemical drain cleaners cause more long-term problems than they are worth. They have the potential to be extremely dangerous and are always toxic. Accidental ingestions can be fatal, and they are harmful to your septic tank and the environment as well. If you decide to use chemical drain cleaners, we caution you to follow all directions carefully and heed all of the warning labels. If used improperly, they can corrode your pipes and even cause explosions.
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