Are Chemical Drain Cleaners Safe for Pipes?

Chemical drain cleaners are one of the most popular methods for cleaning residential drains, however, not all chemical drain cleaners are safe for pipes. Many chemical drain cleaners can do damage to pipes. Understanding the potential problems with chemical drain cleaners and what can be used as an alternative to chemical drain cleaners can help you take better care of your pipes.

Chemical Drain Cleaners Can Harm Pipes

Chemical drain cleaners are caustic or oxidizing. When these drain cleaners are used enough in old pipes they can cause the pipes themselves to degrade. Used in plastic pipes, chemical drain cleaners cause damage by creating heat. This heat can warp or melt the pipe, leading to leaks.

These products are damaging in other ways as well. Chemical drain cleaners are bad for the environment as well as septic systems. Finally, these drain cleaners are cost inefficient. Homeowners who wish to save money on their plumbing maintenance can do better by using homemade products or professional tools to clean their drains.

Alternatives to Chemical Drain Cleaners

There are many alternatives to chemical drain cleaners on the market, including:

  • Homemade drain cleaner. You may have a variety of household products that can be used to clean your drains. Vinegar, which is acidic, and baking soda, which is a natural cleaning product, are among the most commonly used household products for this purpose. To use vinegar and baking soda to clear a clog, mix them together in a cup, then pour the combination down the drain. Vinegar and baking soda will fizz when combined, so be sure to mix them together over the clogged drain to ensure that the bubbles overflow into the basin. Let the vinegar and baking soda combination sit in the drain for an hour or overnight, then flush the drain with hot water in the morning. This technique works well for slow drains but will not help with a fully clogged drain. Repeat as necessary.
  • Bent wire hanger. A bent wire hanger is a useful tool for pulling hair out of the first few inches of a drain. Simply bend the wire hanger into a hook, then push the wire into the drain and use the hook to fish out the hair.
  • Plumber’s auger. If the bent wire hanger doesn’t work, a plumber’s auger likely will. A plumber’s auger is a tool frequently sold in hardware stores and home improvement centers. An auger is a lot like an electric drain snake, but augers are less powerful and are manually powered. To use the auger, insert the tip of the auger into the drain, then push it until it meets with resistance. Tighten the auger screw to hold the cable in place, then turn the crank to push the auger down farther into the drain. Keep doing this until the auger has pierced the clog, then pull the auger out of the drain and run water down the drain to check that the clog is gone.

For a Really Bad Clog, Contact Terry’s Plumbing in Pittsburgh

If the plumber’s auger, vinegar, baking soda and bent wire hanger all fail to do the job, then the best course of action is to contact a professional plumber. At Terry’s Plumbing in Pittsburgh, we help homeowners struggling to eliminate tough clogs. We have powerful tools and smart methods for clearing drains and removing clogs deep in the pipes of the house. To get started, contact us for an appointment.