How Safe Are Drain Cleaners?
You turn on the water, and it won’t go down the drain. Instead, you have a sink full of water … and a big problem on your hands.
If you head to your favorite big box store, you’ll find a plethora of drain cleaners available for use. But how safe are they? Should you really be putting all those chemicals down the drain?
Chemical drain cleaners may clear the problem now. But after several uses, they can weaken and damage your pipes. And it’s not just plumbers vying for your business that say so.
If you purchase many of the chemical drain cleaners on the market today, they’ll work on the clog by using caustic or oxidizing chemicals to get to the root of the problem. Caustic drain cleaners have chemicals that release heat as they approach a problem, turning grease into a soap-like substance that is more easily dissolved. Oxidizing drain cleaners contain chemicals that cause organic materials to lose electrons and become oxidized, moving it through the drain and outside of your home. In both cases, they create a reaction to break down and loosen the clog. That reaction creates heat and can soften plastic pipes and may damage old corroded pipes.
And of course, the chemicals don’t always work. Which means you now have chemicals sitting in your pipes, backed up behind the clog, working even harder to harm your pipes. It can even cause you damage such as accidental burns to your skin as you continue to work on the problem.
So what’s a better alternative?
Instead of harmful chemical drain cleaners, we suggest safer alternatives. There are many green alternatives that can be just as effective at working on clogs as their chemical counterparts. Using a plunger the correct way is often effective. Baking soda and boiling water can also be effective. And if you still are looking for a chemical drain cleaner to do the job faster, the EPA has safer choice guidelines to help you make your selection.
For stubborn clogs and problems that simply won’t go away, the problem may be bigger than you think. It may be time to call in a professional plumber to handle the job in the right way.