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Are Chemical Drain Cleaners Safe?

With how simple they are to purchase, we’ve probably all bought and used a chemical drain cleaner at some point.  In most cases, they work just fine for a slow drain or a sudden clog but that isn’t true for every case.  Pouring bottle after bottle of chemical drain cleaners down your plumbing can have a lasting negative effect that may have a simpler answer.  Preventing clogs in the first place and hiring a professional to unclog your drains from sink to sewer ensure free flowing drains without the danger.


Caustic chemicals can:

  • Be fatal if swallowed by children or animals
  • Burn and irritate skin when a sink backs-up
  • Permanently damage pipes and drains if over-used

Chemical drain cleaners are, by design, highly caustic (capable of burning or corroding organics through chemical action).  Since they’re designed to dissolve soft-clogs consisting of heavy starches, grease clogs, and hair, chemical drain cleaners are effective on most of the clogs in your home.  The chemicals dissolve the proteins and organics in these substances quickly and effectively, but only for shallow clogs which are near the drain.

Clogs which are closer to the sewer line, have a greater degree of buildup, or consist of more solid objects (calcifications or tree roots) cannot be cleaned out by household drain cleaners.  Constantly pouring caustic chemicals down your drain may eventually break through these blockages, but they also stand a good chance of eating through your pipes or flowing back to the sink when the drain backs up.

When to Use Chemical Drain Cleaners

Chemical drain cleaners should be used sparingly, and you should always follow the instructions listed for use exactly as directed.  If you’re facing a simple clog due to grease or trapped hair, then a chemical drain cleaner is fine.  If the drain does not clear, do not keep pouring drain cleaner onto the clog, call a professional to clear the drain.  Yes, you might be able to clear it eventually, but not without weakening the pipes at the clog or risking accidental contact with caustic chemicals when the sink backs up again.

Professional Clearing is Safer

Hiring a professional, licensed plumber to clear drains and clogs in your home is much safer to you and your home’s plumbing.  Rather than simply pouring a chemical down the drain and hoping for the best, a pipe snake (which is actually a tool you can, and should, learn to use yourself) or electric auger can be used to clear away deep clogs, while clearing the pipe all the way to the sewer line.

Additionally, a professionals are often capable of using cameras to inspect the inside of your pipes to verify the cause of the clog and check for mineral deposits or other blockages that can’t be cleared using a typical plunger or pipe snake.

Easy Living Through Proper Care

Then again, the best, and cheapest, way to clear a drain is by preventing a clog in the first place.  Using a simple hair trap on shower and tub drains will prevent one of the most common types of clogs.  It may seem just a little icky, but it’s even cheaper than buying drain cleaner.

You can save your kitchen sink (and your garbage disposal) by being cautious over what you pour down it.  Most liquids are fine, and a few kinds of food scraps are ok for the disposal, but it’s not an incinerator or trash can.  Don’t pour fats and grease (which can harden in the drain) or starchy foods down your drain.  These have a tendency to cause clogs over time as they buildup and get caught on substances in the drain.

Metro Plumbing, Heating, and Air Conditioning is the service company you want!  Call us today at (423) 616-1025!

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