Chemical Drain Cleaners: Good or Bad?
Are They The Best Option?
At one time or another, a clogged drain has frustrated residents of homes across Boston, MA. The fast and easy solution is to pour a bottle of commercial drain cleaner down the problem drain to clear away the blockage. Do they work? Can they damage your home's pipes? Here are some facts and a few tips on alternatives:
Chemical Drain Cleaners
Widely-used and powerful, chemically-based cleaners (caustic, oxidizing, and acid types) can help open up a partially clogged drain. They work by generating heat to break down a clog until it can be flushed out. However, there are drawbacks to their use:
- They often just move clogged material farther down a drain pipe, where it can re-accumulate or cause a sewage backup that requires professional sewage cleaning services.
- The chemical gel can settle and corrode pipes if it's unable to push through a completely blocked drain.
- If pipes are old or made of plastic, the cleaner's chemicals will warp and permanently damage them if used repeatedly.
- Chemical cleaners are toxic and harmful to people, pets and the environment.
Alternatives to Chemical Drain Cleaners
There are safer ways to clear blocked drain pipes. Mechanical options include flexible drain snakes or augers. Available in manually-operated, hand-cranked, battery-operated and electric models, this device can successfully clear drains without resorting to calling in a professional.
Enzymatic drain cleaners use bacteria or enzymes to devour organic materials like the hair, soap and food waste that collect and clump in drains. Although this biological option requires more time to clear a clogged drain — typically 24 hours — it's non-toxic and environmentally safe.
There are many home remedies, including the use of clothes hangers, wet/dry household vacuums and various mixtures of natural ingredients like salt, baking soda, vinegar and boiling water. All are effective depending on the severity of the clog.
Whether in the kitchen or bathroom, there are a range of proven solutions to stubborn blocked drains. With mounting concerns about health and the environment, chemical drain cleaners should be the option of last resort.