If you have clogged or slow-moving drains in your Norman, OK home, you might think that using a chemical drain cleaner is the cheapest and easiest solution. After all, these products are available in most grocery, home and hardware, and convenience stores, and they often sell for $10 or less. You don’t need any special training, tools, or skills to use them, and if they work, your problem could be solved within minutes.
However, despite these and other heavily marketed attributes, most chemical drain cleaners are unsafe for both humans and plumbing systems. They’re also prone to making only partial or short-term improvements in drain blockages while letting larger and more serious plumbing issues fester.
Drain Cleaners Don’t Really Do What Their Name Suggests
Putting a chemical drain cleaner into a dirty, blocked drain might break up soft accumulations of soap scum and hair, but it won’t do much for anything that’s significantly harder, larger, or farther way. Although it’s easy to assume that a single blocked drain is a localized problem, this isn’t always the case. If you have one excessively dirty drain in your home, there’s a high likelihood that your other drains and the pipes connected to them are dirty, too.
Breaking up buildups of organic waste only works as a long-term solution when the pipes that carry this waste away are large enough to permit it. If the interiors of your waste pipes are coated with thick buildups of sediment and other debris, using a drain cleaner is only a short-term fix to an issue that could end with blackwater backing up into the building. Far better than chemical drain cleaners, professional drain cleaning services like hydro-jetting and hydro-steaming can clear dirty plumbing systems from end to end.
Chemical Drain Cleaners Are a Major Hazard to Human Health
Whether caustic or corrosive, if chemical drain cleaners come in contact with your eyes or skin, they could cause painful burns, vision trouble, or even permanent blindness.
Drain cleaners can also have a negative impact on your respiratory health and your nasal passages. Breathing the fumes from these products in for too long can result in both short- and long-term damage.
Whenever consumers use drain cleaners, they’re advised to wear protective, long-sleeved shirts and safety glasses. It’s also important to keep the room that you’re working in well-ventilated and watch out for splashes. Pouring drain cleaner into a nearly overflowing sink or commode can be a messy business.
The Dangers of Performing Do-It-Yourself Clog Repairs With Drain Cleaners
When planning a do-it-yourself plumbing repair that involves chemical drain cleaners, it’s important to look ahead. For instance, what happens when a clog remains and prevents a drain cleaner from moving through the plumbing system?
Drain cleaners that get trapped in stagnant water by stubborn clogs don’t distinguish between organic waste and pipe materials. If they remain trapped for too long, they could break down your pipes and create the need to replace them. The risk of this happening is especially high in areas with plastic pipes and pipes that are at the end of their lifespans.
The Go-To Solution That Could Cost You a Fortune
When chemical drain cleaners work, they work like a charm. Buildups of soap scum and hair virtually melt, and drains open up with loud, sucking sounds. It feels good when you’re able to clear a clog on your own even when there’s the known risk of pipe damage and personal injury. Homeowners who grow comfortable using drain cleaners may start using them as a first resort. However, even if a drain cleaner doesn’t eat through your pipes right away, repeated use will cause cumulative damage that increases with each application.
Most consumers know that bleach and ammonia can never be safely combined. Whether intentional or unintentional, mixing chemicals with limited to no knowledge of the likely outcome could prove deadly. Unfortunately, this is easy to do with a blocked drain. Before rushing to the store for drain cleaners, many homeowners use cleaning agents, pantry items, and more in their effort to get trapped wastewater moving. Clogged drains can also contain large amounts of alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, and other chemicals from any hygiene and beauty products that were recently used.
The Impact of Chemical Drain Cleaners on Wildlife and the Environment
Everything that you put down your drains has an impact on the environment around you. If there’s something that you don’t want in local waterways, groundwater, or soils, never put it into your plumbing system. Some drain cleaners aren’t biodegradable. Long after these products have exited your pipe and entered the sewer main, they’re still very much intact. In fact, even after chemical drain cleaners have gone through municipal wastewater treatment processes, trace amounts of their most harmful ingredients often remain detectable. Moreover, the risk of environmental harm can exist indefinitely when empty, full, or partially full bottles of nondegradable drain cleaners are thrown away.
Safety Hazards Resulting From Improper Storage
Bringing chemical drain cleaners into your home adds one more dangerous product to the list of items that must be properly stored away to protect small children and pets. Much like bleach, ammonia, and other cleaning agents, these products should never be stored behind toilets, underneath bathroom or kitchen sinks, or in other accessible areas.
Are There Safer Alternatives?
The good news is that chemical drain cleaners aren’t the only drain cleaners homeowners can use when dealing with minor clogs. If you have slow-moving drains due to build-ups of hair, soap scum, skin oils, and general grime, a 50/50 mix of baking soda and white vinegar might do the trick. Simply pour a cup or more of baking soda into the offending drain, and then, chase it with an equal amount of vinegar. The bubbly, foaming reaction that occurs when the two come together is often enough to power through light blockages.
For a bit more power, you can opt for a natural, biodegradable drain cleaner. Also known as bio drain cleaners, these products are non-hazardous, non-caustic, and safe for use. They don’t eat through pipes, cause respiratory damage, or burn when they come in contact with the eyes or skin. They’re also much safer for the natural environment. They introduce engineered bacteria into plumbing systems to work their way through clogs by consuming organic matter. However, while chemical drain cleaners typically take between 15 and 45 minutes to work, some bio drain cleaners can take days or even weeks to get the job done.
When it comes to giving your plumbing system the best level of protection, the safest alternative to chemical drain cleaners is professional plumbing repairs. Only a licensed plumber can determine whether a small, localized clog is connected to a bigger issue and if your pipes are sturdy enough to withstand common drain cleaning techniques. Plumbers can also clear clogs quickly and without diminishing the integrity of pipes and other connected plumbing features.
We’ve been serving Norman, OK since 2008. We offer top-notch heating, cooling, electrical, and plumbing services. We also provide water softening equipment, sewer line and drain cleaning services, and preventive maintenance plans. If you have clogged or slow-moving drains, contact us at Norman Air today.