We’ve previously written on our blog about the potential problems of using store-bought “drain cleaners” to clear clogs in drains. (We can’t put enough scare quotes around “drain cleaners.” Here’s an attempt: “““““““drain cleaners.””””””) The short version is drain cleaners rarely remove obstructions in drains, are filled with toxic chemicals, can poison the environment, and lead to corrosion in drainpipes that weakens them.
The last part may be hard to believe. Drain cleaners causing corrosion in drains? Is this really something that happens?
Yes, it is.
Drain Cleaners Are Caustic
Liquid drain cleaners are no more than bottles of caustic chemicals. This acid eats away at clogs, but it doesn’t know where the clog stops and the material of the pipe begins—so it will attack the inside of the drainpipe as well. You’ve unleashed a monster in your drains!
And worse, it’s a monster that won’t leave. Not completely. No matter if the chemical cleaner eats through the clog or not, some of the chemicals will remain in the drainpipe afterward. This small amount of cleaner sitting in the pipe will continue to do its dirty work, and this may lead to corrosion.
One reason for this is the way the chemical infiltrates small holes in older metal pipes. This speeds up the corrosion that’s probably already occurring in the metal, increasing the reaction between the metal and the air. Another reason is the acids in drain cleaners react to soap scum, creating an even more powerful chemical reaction triggering corrosion.
Plastic Drainpipes Won’t Save You
If your reaction to this information is, “But I have plastic drainpipes, they can’t corrode,” we have some extra bad news. Drainpipes made of PVC or CPVC should never, ever have any type of chemical cleaners poured down them. The acidic chemical action of cleaners eats through plastic fast and the chemicals will stay down in the pipe for a long time.
The Better Way to Clean Those Drains
If using chemical drain cleaners is a “don’t go there!” situation, then what’s the best way to unclog drains and clean them? You have three options:
- Standard plunger: You probably already tried using a plunger before thinking about drain cleaners. But in case you hadn’t, this is a safe tool and can work for simple clogs.
- Handcranked drain snake: Aka a drain auger, a basic tool you can insert into the drain line to break up easy clogs and pull out debris like hair.
- Calling a plumber: If you can’t eliminate a clog with the other tools, or you want full drain cleaning to remove build-up in the line, call a licensed professional plumber. Only with the equipment like motorized drain augers and hydro-jetters can you have your drains thoroughly cleaned instead of only having a temporary blockage removed.
Finding speedy and effective drain cleaning services in Cincinnati, OH is as easy as calling Ken Neyer Plumbing. We not only have the finest licensed plumbers with the best drain cleaning tools, you can reach us 24 hours a day when you have an emergency.