Blockages and Clogs – Why Chemical Solutions Should be Used as a Last Resort
Let’s face it. We’ve all tried to manage clogged and slow drains on our own with a chemical solution.
It is a quick and cheap solution until it’s not. Depending on age and structural strength, our plumbing
system can take a beating from our own methods of drain clearing.
Chemical solutions should not be your first step to unclogging a drain. Although safe to use as a last
resort, it can cause damage to older, weaker metal pipes. Chemical drain cleaners should never be used
on a completely blocked drain despite what you see in the commercials. If the drain doesn’t clear on its
own, then those extremely harsh chemicals end up sitting in the pipes for a long time just eating away at
them. That is especially harmful for softer pipes like PVC and older metal pipes.
Did you know that chemical drain cleaners work by producing heat that plows through clogs? There are
3 types of chemical drain cleaners on the market: Acid (sulfuric and muriatic acids), Caustic (lye and caustic
potash) and Oxidizing (bleach, peroxides, nitrates). These chemicals work through an electron-transfer
process that causes heat. That heat will then break down the clog until it can be flushed away. Unfortunately,
“FOG” clogs (fats, oils, grease) just moves further down the drain and will find another home somewhere to
build up again. Ending up at this point requires a professional to trace and clear, this can be expensive if done
properly and safely.
Also consider the caustic nature of these chemical drain cleaners. It can burn through our skin and cause
open sores and rashes. The mucus membranes in our eyes, nose, throat can become irritated simply from
inhalation. They are toxic also to pets and wildlife. These chemicals often end up in our waterways, landfills
and groundwater. Please consider using alternative methods first.
Try safer drain clearing options as a starting point: Mechanical options like cable snakes, plastic zipper sticks,
plunger and other forms of augers. Biological options include enzyme drain cleaners that utilize live enzymes
to eat the clog.
Your reliable, licensed plumber is always there for you to advise on the best methods to clear a clogged drain.
Contact your plumber for help to professionally clear a drain. It is critical to get a plumber to handle a standing
clog that hasn’t budged for more than 12 hours to avoid permanent damage or have it move further down the system.