Despite their colorful packaging, heavily marketed benefits and capabilities, and low prices, chemical drain cleaners are notoriously bad for plumbing systems. They’re also harmful to human health. Although there are ways to use them both safely and effectively, the plumbing problems that they resolve are few and far between. When it comes to clearing blockages and clogs in your Indianapolis, IN home, calling a plumber is always best. Read on to find out why.
Chemical Drain Cleaners Can Cause Serious Respiratory, Eye, and Skin Damage
Consumers can purchase chemical drain cleaners at most hardware and drug stores. In fact, even many gas stations and convenience stores carry a few bottles from well-known brands. While they’re both affordable and easy to access, these products come with a vast number of health and safety hazards. They’re designed to “eat” through thick build-ups of slime, soap scum, hair, and grease. As their active ingredients, they often have caustic or corrosive chemicals like sulphuric acid and lye. These and other agents can cause serious respiratory, skin, and eye burns. Worse still, although direct contact can cause injury, even breathing them in is harmful.
What You Really Need When Using a Chemical Drain Cleaner
While the cost of chemical drain cleaners is low, you need a few additional items to use them safely. For instance, to minimize the risk of injury, you’ll need heavy-duty gloves, a thick, long-sleeved work shirt to block unintentional splashes, a protective face mask, safety goggles, and a fan or open window to ventilate the space you’re working in.
These Products Can Weaken and Destroy Pipes
The goal of store-bought drain cleaners is to “eat” through or dissolve organic blockages. However, the chemicals that drive these actions work indiscriminately. They eat through buildups of hair and pipe walls much the same. Moreover, if you dump judicious amounts of a drain cleaner into your plumbing system and trapped wastewater doesn’t move, your drain cleaner could continue weakening and dissolving your pipes for quite some time. Using drain cleaners too often or having them trapped in pipe interiors for too long can lead to ruptures, leaks, and more.
Chemical Drain Cleaners Don’t Pair Well With Other Drain Clearing Techniques
Some people make the mistake of attempting to clear their drains with mechanical tools after using drain cleaners unsuccessfully. However, you should never plunge a toilet or sink or attempt to use a drain snake after applying these products. Forceful movements can cause contaminated water to splash into your eyes or onto your skin. Even after they’ve been diluted by adding them to drains, these products also remain caustic enough to cause serious burns in the mouth, throat, nasal passages, and airways if breathed in.
Chemical Drain Cleaners Add Harmful Toxins to the Local Water Supply
Whether by groundwater or wastewater treatment, everything that you send down your drains has an impact on the local water supply. Although wastewater treatment facilities remove many harmful pathogens and chemical contaminants, regularly using drain cleaners doesn’t help. Even trace amounts of these chemicals can have an adverse impact on groundwater, microorganisms that naturally treat it, multiple biomes, and more.
Using Chemical Drain Cleaners Can Result in the Loss of Warranty Protections
Using chemical drain cleaners in your fixtures and appliances can compromise their warranty protections, Manufacturers’ warranties cover damages caused by defective parts and products, incorrect assembly, and poor materials handling. However, they won’t pay for these problems if there are visible damages caused by corrosive drain cleaners. Even many home warranties that cover plumbing systems can be voided by drain cleaners and other unauthorized, do-it-yourself plumbing repairs.
Chemical Drain Cleaners Aren’t a Top Choice for Drain Cleaning Among Plumbers
Chemical drain cleaners aren’t a top choice for drain cleaning among plumbing professionals. The drawbacks of using these products far exceed their benefits. Dumping corrosive chemicals into your plumbing system doesn’t account for the things that you can’t see. For instance, your shower pan might be draining slowly due to a wedged toy, a razor cap, or another non-degradable, non-dissolving item.
Sometimes clearing drain and pipe obstructions requires exploratory camera inspections, the removal of fixtures or pipe sections, and other hands-on techniques. In some instances, even when drain cleaners break through single-drain blockages, they force overly large waste deeper into plumbing systems to cause clogs in other places.
Whether lined with buildups of sediment and rust or coated in heavy layers of body oils, grease, and rendered fats, the interiors of blocked pipes often have greatly reduced diameters. Thus, the best drain cleaning methods both remove obstructions and widen pipe openings by dislodging trapped accumulations. This way, household waste and wastewater have plenty of room to move through.
Hydro-Jetting and Hydro-Steaming
Depending upon the age and integrity of pipes and the nature of drain and pipe blockages, plumbers often recommend hydro-jetting or hydro-steaming. Performed at a clean-out cap, hydro-jetting sends forceful jets of hot water into plumbing systems to scour the sidewalls of pipes and force blockages through. Hydro-steaming works much the same but uses a gentler, high-pressure steam instead. Not only do these techniques resolve existing issues, but they also improve overall plumbing system performance and limit the risk of future clogs.
Serious drain blockages could require the use of mechanical agitation. Plumbers might use drain snakes or drain augers to remove buildups of old, slow-degrading, “flushable” wipes, large accumulations of hair, or pipe sediment. However, even when mechanical agitation is the most appropriate method of clearing a drain, it’s best to have a plumber do it for you. Our plumbers can clear drains and pipes with augers, snakes, and other mechanical tools, without damaging porcelain appliances, rupturing pipes, or causing other structural harm. It’s also important to note that using plungers, augers, and snakes in the wrong instances can force obstructions deeper and increase both the magnitude and cost of plumbing problems.
Are There Safer Drain Cleaners Available?
Some homeowners use enzymatic drain cleaners instead of caustic or corrosive solutions. These drain cleaners have active enzymes that break organic waste down. Although they won’t cause damage to your pipes, respiratory system, skin, or eyes, they can take several days to work. Moreover, if the obstruction is a hard piece of plastic, these products won’t clear the blockage at all.
Sometimes Pipes and Drains Just Need a Thorough Cleaning
Sometimes clogged, slow-moving drains don’t have hard, non-degradeable obstructions. Instead, they simply have too much soft debris. At shower drains and sinks, resolving the problem could be as easy as removing a drain strainer and cleaning it out or clearing debris just beneath it. You may be able to pull hair and other debris from your drain manually rather than sending corrosive chemicals down.
The Cause of Your Plumbing Issue Could Lie in Your Sewer Line
When more than one drain in your home is blocked, moving slowly, emitting foul smells, or exhibiting other signs of distress, the problem could lie at your sewer line. Your sewer line travels underground from your home to the municipal sewer main. This feature can get blocked by invasive weeds or tree roots, paper towels, “flushable” wipes, and hard, non-dissolving objects. Without sewer line repairs, you run the risk of experiencing a whole-house backup that sends solid waste and wastewater into all of the pipes, drains, and appliances throughout your home. In instances like these, using drain cleaner will only compound the problem and make resolving it more hazardous for your plumber.
Homeowners in Indianapolis, IN can count on us for effective and minimally invasive drain-clearing techniques. We solve problems without creating new ones. We offer exceptional plumbing, sewer repair, and drain cleaning services. We also provide water heaters, water softeners, and sump pumps. To schedule an appointment for clog removal services, contact Hope Plumbing today.