chemical drain cleaner risks alternatives

Chemical Drain Cleaner Risks and Alternatives

When it comes to your drain cleaning needs throughout Utah, the team at 24 Hour Rooter Connectionz is your one-stop shop. We’ve been providing drain cleaning, main sewer line clearing and numerous related services to Utahns for years, helping them keep drains clear and avoid the costly issues that may arise if drains or sewer lines are blocked, damaged or otherwise impacted.

In addition to our comprehensive drain cleaning services, we’re also here to provide expertise and important information that will help you with the long-term care of your drains and main sewer line, even when our plumbers aren’t around in-person to assist you with it. One particular area we often advise clients on: The use – or, more appropriately, lack thereof – of chemical drain cleaners. While these cleaners are often the first tools homeowners reach for when a drain is clogged, we do not recommend this practice for several reasons. Here are these reasons, plus a word on proper drain protection and how to avoid the need for chemical drain cleaners altogether.

Lack of Effectiveness

The first and simplest reason we don’t recommend chemical cleaners for your drains: They just aren’t that effective, no matter what their commercials or labels might tell you. While they’ll do fine clearing out certain kinds of minor clogs, they will struggle in a major way with anything more significant – if the clog is due to damage in your pipe, for instance, chemical cleaners will not only have no impact, but might even worsen the damage (more on this in a moment).

Compared to other drain cleaning and care methods, including pipe jetting and other formats, these chemicals just don’t do a very good job. And when you combine this with the other major downsides they come with, you’ll see that there’s very little benefit to using them.

Pipe Damage

We just noted the potential for drain chemicals to worsen pipe damage, but that isn’t even the full extent of the risk here. Especially for pipes that have had chemicals poured down them several times to clear them out, particularly within a short period of time, these chemicals will do more than just clear out clogs – they’ll also risk the quality of your pipes.

This is because these chemicals are meant to eat away at materials to help remove clogs, something that also requires the presence of heat. But this erosion may also take place on pipes, especially older metal ones; in addition, the heat created during the chemical reactions may damage PVC and other plastic pipes by making them too soft, and therefore unable to properly hold up to the elements.

Safety Concerns

Not only are chemical drain cleaners less effective and prone to creating just as many problems as they do solutions, they’re also potentially hazardous and unsafe in a few settings. Here are some of the risks they carry:

  • Dangerous to children or pets: If you have kids or pets in the home, keeping chemical drain cleaners around risks them being exposed to dangerous chemicals. Any chemicals in your home should always be stored well above where children or pets can access them, if they must be present at all.
  • Fumes: Especially if you’ve used different types of drain cleaner in the same drain over time, it’s possible for a chemical reaction to begin brewing within your system. For instance, some cleaners use ammonium while others use bleach – this combination can lead to toxic fumes beginning to emit around your home, sometimes without you even knowing it.
  • Improper use: Finally, if used improperly – such as in a poorly-ventilated area, without gloves or safety equipment, or in coordination with a plunger (this should never be done) – these chemicals can create direct safety issues, not only to kids but to adults as well.

Impact on Environment

Another big negative of chemical drain cleaners is the impact they have on the environment. Bleach isn’t the only potentially harmful chemical found in these cleaners, many of which emit gasses that not only impact those who live in the house, but also can get into the water supply and impact surrounding areas. Chemical cleaners move from your drain into the septic tank, where they may then be filtered and released into groundwater – this is harmful to the surrounding environment, plus could be avoided by simply taking other approaches to your drain cleaning.

Drain Protection and Cleanouts

That last sentence above is perhaps the most convincing argument against using chemical drain cleaners: There are better alternatives out there. The first of these is simple drain knowledge and care during daily use – use drains properly, especially toilet drains, and don’t allow them to become dumping grounds for materials that might clog the drain and create issues. In addition, have drains periodically inspected or cleaned out to ensure they don’t deal with any grime or other buildups across a period of months or years.

And as you dig into this latter area, the value of working with experienced drain care professionals becomes clear. We’ll help you limit your drain clearing services only to those that you truly need, avoiding the risk of spending more money than required on simple drain care. We also offer general expertise on how to keep drains clear in the months between our drain inspections, ensuring you won’t have any need for chemicals or other drain cleaning solutions in these months.

For more on the problems with chemical drain cleaners, or to learn about any of our drain cleaning or sewer line clearing services, speak to the staff at 24 Hour Rooter Connectionz today.