Are Drain Cleaners Safe?
Because of their convenience, easy-to-understand instructions, and the fact that they’re pretty inexpensive – homeowners around the country turn to chemical or enzyme-based drain cleaners when they encounter a clog in their plumbing system.
The problem is that in exchange for their ease of use, liquid drain cleaners might not always go the distance. And if they do, they might cause more harm than good.
For homeowners considering a DIY drain cleaning operation, here’s our take on some of those household drain cleaners.
Chemical Drain Cleaners Don’t Work On Every Clog
Chemical drain cleaners will quickly melt away most “light” blockages caused by hair, soap, or other drain gunk (technical term). However, for more serious clogs, they aren’t always enough, despite their heavy-duty chemical makeup.
For more resistant clogs that slowly formed after years of corrosion, or for out-of-the-home blockages caused by tree roots – professional intervention is likely the only thing that’s going to get your water flowing again.
Some Chemical Drain Cleaners Harm Pipes
The chemical drain cleaners on the market that do take care of heavier clogs tend to have adverse effects on the plumbing itself. Sure they’ll dissolve your clog, but they might also dissolve your plumbing with it.
Especially in a home with older pipes that are already corroded, thinning and susceptible to failure, highly-acidic drain cleaners might be the straw that breaks the camel’s back. While a pipe rupture probably would have happened anyway, replacing an eaten-up pipe isn’t usually something a homeowner planned when pouring cleaner down the drain.
Safe Drain Cleaning Methods
For minor clogs without much standing water blocking the path, there are several home remedies that might do the trick.
1. Hot Water & Detergent
The first method worth trying is simply pouring the combination of substances you use to clean your dishes every day – hot water and dish soap. For clogs caught early in their lifecycle, this method is surprisingly effective.
2. Hot Water & Vinegar
Among the many unexpected benefits of vinegar, it also works effectively as a light, non-invasive drain cleaner. Its slight acidity eats away at minor clogs in much the same way a drain cleaner would, and when combined with hot water – many of the most common clogs can be taken care of with two common household items.
For homeowners looking for a chemical-free method of clearing a blocked drain, snaking is a handy, cheap method that’s always worth trying. Drain snakes are flexible plastic instruments that are perfect for clearing out basic blockages from a common site of domestic clogs – in the trap located beneath the plumbing fixture.
4. Call A Plumber
Facing a clog that just won’t quit? If the other methods don’t seem to be doing the trick, the only thing left to do is call a qualified plumber to come out and take a look at what’s going on.
If the tough clog is limited to a single water fixture, the chances are it’s not a big problem and shouldn’t take a professional more than a few minutes to clear.