When a sink becomes clogged, the first thing most homeowners reach for is their trusty bottle of chemical drain cleaner. Chemical cleaners work well to cut through dirt, grime, and food particles, restoring your pipes.
However, chemical cleaners contain several corrosive substances that can eat through your pipes and produce dangerous fumes. As such, many homeowners have switched to enzymatic drain cleaners. But many people still want to know: Are enzyme drain cleaners safe?
Advantage Plumbing provides expert plumbing services in Addison, IL. So today, we put together this comprehensive article all about enzymatic drain cleaners.
What Are Enzymatic Drain Cleaners?
Unlike traditional chemical cleaners, enzymatic drain cleaners contain bacterial cultures and enzymes that dissolve organic matter like food particles, mold, hair, and skin cells. The bacteria in enzymatic cleaners break down organic waste and populate your drains/pipes with other cultures of healthy bacteria. Because they do not use caustic chemicals, enzymatic drain cleaners are better for your pipes and overall health.
Are Chemical Cleaners Bad?
Chemical cleaners prove very effective, but they have some serious downsides. Manufacturers make three primary types of chemical drain cleaners:
- Caustic cleaners: Caustic cleaners typically use either potash or lye, both of which produce heat to break down organic waste.
- Oxidizing cleaners: Oxidizing cleaners use substances like bleach and nitrates to create an oxidation reaction. Heat and pressure from the chemical reaction dislodge waste build-up.
- Acid cleaners: Acid cleaners use corrosive materials like sulfuric or hydrochloric acids that eat through all kinds of substances in your clogged drains and pipes. These cleaners are extremely strong, so professionals are typically the only ones that use them.
Chemical cleaners can cut through tough grime, but they can damage your pipes. Most chemical cleaners rely on heat and pressure from chemical reactions to remove blockages. The heat and pressure can deform PVC pipes and eat away the top layers of metal pipes.
Additionally, harsh chemical cleaners can strip stone countertops and tarnish metal fixtures and openings. They can even kill beneficial bacteria in your septic tank, which can cause clogs and sewage backup.
Lastly, the volatile substances in chemical cleaners are dangerous for humans and can cause burning and irritation. If you mix drain cleaner with something like bleach or ammonia, it will produce a corrosive gas that can trigger asthma attacks and exacerbate heart conditions.
Enzymatic Cleaners Are a Safe Option
So, the question you have been waiting for: Are enzyme drain cleaners safe?
In short, yes. One of the best features of enzymatic cleaners is that they are much safer for your pipes and drains. Since they do not contain corrosive chemicals, they will not deform or strip your pipes. Instead, Enzymatic cleaners rely on biological reactions to break up sludge and clear drain blockages.
Additionally, enzymatic cleaners can actually help your sewer system’s biome. Your septic tank is home to several bacteria that break down waste products. Enzymatic cleaners can replenish and fortify these bacterial colonies, which keeps your septic system in good condition for longer.
Lastly, enzymatic cleaners are not as harmful to humans as chemical cleaners. Bacteria cultures in enzymatic cleaners can still cause irritation if they make contact with the skin. But they will not cause chemical burns or produce harmful fumes when mixed with other cleaners.
Downsides of Enzymatic Cleaners
Enzymatic cleaners typically make a safer option, but they have a few downsides. First, they are not as powerful as chemical cleaners. Enzyme cleaners can remove deposits of organic matter like food particles and skin cells, but they may have trouble with tougher grease clogs and mineral deposits.
Second, enzyme cleaners take longer to work. Most chemical cleaners start to break up clogs almost instantly. Enzymatic cleaners take much longer to dislodge clogs as the bacteria need time to break down organic matter. As a result, you usually have to leave enzymatic cleaners for at least a few hours before you can flush your pipes.
Lastly, enzymatic cleaners contain active biological agents, so they have a relatively short shelf life. The short shelf life also means they are not as common in home improvement stores. Instead, retailers prefer to stock chemical cleaners that won’t expire before someone buys them.
Tips for Using Enzymatic Cleaners
Enzymes have a short life cycle, so you need to make sure you use enzymatic cleaners properly. Let’s review some tips to make enzymatic cleaners more effective.
- Treat your drains with baking soda and hot water first. The baking soda will soften up any material, making it easier for the enzymes and bacteria to do their job.
- Let the cleaner sit for at least six hours. Enzymatic cleaners take some time to work, so most homeowners will apply and leave the cleaner overnight.
- Dilute your enzymatic cleaner with at least one cup of water per one tablespoon of cleaner. Bacteria and enzymes work better when they have sufficient water around.
- You should use drain covers to prevent debris and food particles from falling into your pipes. Drain covers keep the largest pieces out so the drain cleaner can focus on smaller blockages.
Should I Use Enzymatic Drain Cleaners?
Enzymatic drain cleaners offer an eco-friendly and safe alternative to harsh chemical cleaners. While they take longer to use, they prove incredibly effective at eating through organic waste and food particles. The best way to use enzymatic drain cleaners is to incorporate enzyme treatments in your drain care routine.
The single best reason to use enzyme drain cleaners is that they can protect your pipes from corrosion and warping. Broken pipes can incur costly repairs, so switching to enzyme cleaners can save you money in the long run. Enzyme drain cleaners also make a safe option, so you don’t have to worry about fumes and burns.
Are enzyme drain cleaners safe? Hopefully, we’ve answered this question with a resounding “Yes!” If not, or you have any questions about enzymatic cleaners or want to learn more about drain cleaning services, contact Advantage Plumbing online or call us today at (842) 268-3553 to schedule an appointment!