When you discover a slow or clogged drain, calling a plumber might not be your first reaction. After all, using a bottle of commercial liquid drain cleaner is cheaper and requires minimal effort, so why call for professional help?
There are plenty of reasons, actually: your pipes, your health, and the often poor performance of liquid drain cleaners, to name a few. Find out why DIY drain cleaning is a major don’t and what you should do instead.
First, What Is in Drain Cleaner?
Drain cleaners are often comprised of ingredients such as sulfuric acid, hydrochloric acid (muriatic acid), sodium hydroxide (lye), potassium hydroxide (caustic potash), or bleach. Because these ingredients are potent and hazardous, they can be dangerous to use and harmful to your plumbing and the environment.
Can Muriatic Acid Clear Clogged Drains?
As mentioned before, muriatic acid (hydrochloric acid) is a primary ingredient in most household drain cleaners, and on its own is sometimes used by professional plumbers. However, because this ingredient is still highly potent, it’s often heavily diluted before use. Regardless, we don’t recommend ever using this cleaner on your own without a professional.
Why You Shouldn’t Use Drain Cleaners
They Can Damage Your Pipes
Most liquid drain cleaners work by creating a chemical reaction right inside your drainpipe, often with the help of hydrochloric acid. These reactions typically generate heat, which can do irreversible damage to the pipe itself. This is especially true if the cleaner doesn’t do a quick or complete job dissolving the clog because the liquid chemicals will sit on top of the clog while the chemical reaction is concentrated on one small section of the pipe.
Worse, if the pipe is plastic, the high heat could partially melt and deform the material. Metal pipes are more resilient, but the heat can weaken the metal in such a way that cracks and leaks become more likely down the line. This is especially true for older pipes.
They Can Be Hazardous to Your Health
If drain cleaning chemicals can do that kind of damage to your pipes, imagine what they can do to you. The fumes from using these products may irritate the eyes, nose, throat, and lungs.
Though not all drain cleaner formulas are the same, some may cause burns if you accidentally get them on your skin. It is even worse to accidentally get some in your eyes, It’s a good idea to always wear safety goggles and avoid splashing if you use these products.
They Can Be Harmful to the Environment
After these highly potent chemicals travel through your plumbing, they can often end up in the water supply, rivers, streams, and more. Additionally, the chemicals inside drain cleaners can also interact dangerously if they come into contact with other solutions.
What To Do When Drain Cleaner Doesn’t Work
Get Your Money’s Worth By Calling a Plumber
Even if you avoid damaging your pipes or compromising your health, there’s never a guarantee that a drain cleaner will be effective. If your clog is caused by anything other than a simple hairball or grease buildup, the drain cleaner is unlikely to help at all.
One of the greatest advantages of calling a plumber to clear a drain is that they can diagnose the cause of the clog. If there’s a break in a pipe that’s allowing other material to push inside, or if the root cause is located deeper in your drainage system, using a liquid drain cleaner is a complete waste of money. Count on our drain service plumbers to save you time and money by making sure that your drains are safely cleaned and any other plumbing concerns are correctly diagnosed.
Try Elbow Grease (Use A Plunger)
Instead of resorting directly to the jug of liquid chemicals, try clearing a clogged drain the old-fashioned way: use a plunger. Just be sure to practice the proper plunger technique for the best possible results.
If that doesn’t work, you may be able to clear the drain on your own using a plumbing snake. There are scaled-down versions that can be powered by almost any electric drill. They aren’t quite as powerful as the ones plumbers use, but they’re more than enough for your usual hair or grease clogs.
Is There a Better Alternative to Drain Cleaner?
Some more natural and safe solutions to drain cleaners include:
- Baking soda and vinegar. Mix equal portions (1/2 cup) of these ingredients, pour them down your drain, wait 15 minutes, and then rinse with hot water. For a milder solution, follow this guide.
- Baking soda and salt. Follow the same steps as the baking soda and vinegar solution.
- Hot water and dish soap. Put a few tablespoons of dish soap in your drain, then follow that with hot water. This will cut some of the grease and buildup. Then, use a plunger to clear any clogs.
Related: DIY Tips For Clearing A Clogged Drain
Clear Your Drains Safely with Help From The Experts
Do you have a clog that needs clearing? Skip the hazardous drain cleaners and elbow grease and count on Benjamin Franklin Plumbing to do the job instead. We provide expert drain clearing, cleaning, and repair services. Call us at 1-877-BEN-1776, or request an appointment online.