5 Commonly Used Drain Cleaning Chemicals
Do you need professional help clearing your clogged drain? Call Advantage Plumbing & Sewer Co. today at (847) 860-7147 for fast, effective remedies.
When you suspect that you have a clogged drain, the instinctive thing is to try and clear the clog by yourself. The options most people default to at this point include hot water and drain cleaners. The drain cleaners often work better as they contain chemicals that may break up clogs in different ways.
As Elgin’s trusted drain-cleaning company, we have seen countless examples of these drain cleaning chemicals. In this article, we’ll look at the common options to give you an idea of products to buy if you do need them.
1. Sodium or Phosphorous Hydroxide Cleaners
These caustic products are best for clearing your clogs if they occur close to where you’ll pour in the chemical. So, they are great when you want to clear sinks and bathtubs with soap scum or hair clogs just beneath the drain hole.
If the clogs occur a bit further down the drain, where the drain cleaners containing these chemicals must pass through or mix with water, the efficacy will reduce significantly. The product may not work at all.
Cleaners containing sodium or phosphorous hydroxide will not work for other types of clogs. If you must use them, you have to carefully follow the manufacturer’s instructions — usually no more than two to three tablespoons down the affected drain.
2. Sulfuric Acid Products
You can identify these products by their sulfuric smell. Sulfuric-acid-based drain cleaning chemicals work best for clearing organic clogs like grease and food waste. However, the chemicals only burn holes through clogs instead of clearing them completely from the sidewalls. So, they may not work for stubborn clogs.
If you use drain cleaning chemicals that contain sulfur before calling your plumber, it’s important to let them know once they arrive. The acid in these products is strong enough to damage all cable-type cleaning tools, which could cause problems for them down the line.
3. Hydrochloric Acid-Based Products
Drain cleaning chemicals that contain hydrochloric acid are the best for preventing clogs due to hard water, ice machine waste, or urine salts. Many people use them when they already have clogs, and unfortunately, that’s just money down the drain.
They are not useful for any type of existing clogs, but you can use them to keep your urinals and icemaker drains clog-free if you pour some tablespoons down there every few weeks.
4. Herbicide-Based Products
These are another set of drain-cleaning chemicals that won’t help much when clogs have already formed. They are useful for preventing roots from growing into plumbing systems and causing clogs. If some roots have already caused clogs, we recommend using a cable tool or hydro jetting to dislodge them. Afterward, you can apply the herbicide-based drain cleaning chemicals to keep the roots from growing back into the pipe system.
However, they are not foolproof. Depending on the size of the plant growing the roots, another root clog will happen down the line — not through the old section, as the herbicide will prevent it, but from another part. Tree roots tend to be obstinate once they get that first taste of a water source.
5. Natural Enzymes/Bacteria-Based Products
These “eco-friendly” drain cleaning alternatives have grown in popularity in recent times. However, as most people tend to find out quickly, they won’t do much for you when you already have a clogged drain. The reason is that it takes a while for the bacteria in these products to break down the organic debris causing the clogs. Thus, they are most effective at maintaining your drains and keeping them from clogging up in the first place. They are also effective at clearing slow drains if you’re willing to wait a few weeks from the date of application. Keep in mind that they won’t help if you have clogs due to inorganic debris.
The Dangers of Drain Cleaning Chemicals
As you’ve seen above, commercial drain cleaners are useful, even if not in the ways you had in mind before. However, any professional plumber will recommend avoiding these cleaners for the following reasons.
They Are Dangerous
Drain cleaner poisoning is possible if you mishandle these products. You don’t want to have some of them splash on your skin or eyes. Most of them will cause serious injury. That’s why you should wear protective gear before opening one. You also need to protect your nose because inhaling too much can cause significant respiratory problems.
You also can’t afford to risk having your children or pets come in contact with these products. You must store them well beyond their reach, as any accidental exposure or ingestion may be fatal.
They Are Bad for the Environment
The chemicals and harsher ingredients you pour down the drain will go out into the environment, contributing to the pollution of our oceans, rivers, groundwater, and soil. If you want to reduce your negative footprint on the environment, it’s best to avoid them.
With this point, it’s easy to see why bacteria-based products have grown in popularity. They don’t contaminate the environment but do still come with downsides.
They Can Damage Your Plumbing System
Your plumbing system features pipe work that isn’t impermeable to the harsh ingredients in these drain cleaning chemicals. The more acidic products can slowly eat away at your pipework until you need to replace or reline them.
PVC and galvanized steel will hold out longer than copper, but the result will be the same if you consistently use these caustic cleaners.
Get Professional Drain Cleaning From Your Local Experts
If your sink drain smells like sewer due to clogs, you don’t need to gamble on dangerous drain cleaning chemicals that may or may not work. Our professional team can arrive at your property in the shortest time possible to clear the clogs.
Call Advantage Plumbing & Sewer Co. now at (847) 860-7147 if you need drain cleaning services in Elgin, IL.