One of the questions we’re often asked is about drain cleaners. People want to know if drain cleaners are actually effective at unclogging sinks. The simplicity of drain cleaners is what makes them so appealing. Simply pour the required amount of the chemical solution down your drain, wait, and the clog is gone! If only it were that simple...
Are drain cleaners effective?
Unfortunately, the answer to this is complicated. Sometimes, drain cleaners will work to unclog your drain. Other times, they won’t work at all and will actually make the situation worse. There are many factors at play, including the severity of the clog, the material causing the backup, the location of the clog in the drain, and the type of drain cleaner used. Though drain cleaners will sometimes unclog your drain, we advise our customers to not use them due to the many risks they pose.
Risks to your health and the environment
Using drain cleaners actually poses risks to your health. As you may know, drain cleaners often feature very caustic chemicals that create reactions in order to break up whatever’s causing the clog. It is not healthy to breathe these chemicals, which can irritate your lungs and eyes, for example. Furthermore, if they’re capable of dissolving clumps of hair or grease, imagine the damage they could do to your skin! Just as these products can harm you, they can also harm the environment. After passing through your plumbing, drain cleaners end up back in the water supply, potentially poisoning wildlife.
Risks to your plumbing
The chemicals in drain cleaners can also take a toll on your plumbing. Especially if you have old metal or PVC pipes, drain cleaners can potentially eat right through your drain line. Being careless about what you pour down your drains can lead to having to pay to repipe your plumbing. This a big hassle and very expensive.
You’ll especially want to avoid using drain cleaners when you’ve got a severe clog. The last thing you want is to pour a bunch of drain cleaner down your sink and have it fail. Now you have a clogged sink, plus a bunch of toxic drain cleaner making it harder to fix the problem the right way. Often, the product will end up just sitting on top of the clog, eating away your pipes all the while. Similarly, drain cleaners are totally unsuited for toilet clogs. The cleaner will linger in the toilet for a long time and can even eat away at the porcelain.
How do I remove the clog?
We recommend trying other means to loosen clogs. Dumping very hot water down your sink can sometimes break down the hair or soap buildup that may be causing the clog. Using a plunger may also work to clear the clog. If these methods fail, and you don’t have the time or energy to undertake a DIY plumbing project, give your plumber a call. Better to have a pro fix the problem than risk permanently damaging your plumbing.