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Drain cleaners are a chemical-based product that helps to unblock clogged pipes and drains. We at Drain Flo Plumbing in St. Petersburg, FL have come in contact with pipes that have had drain cleaners run through them all the time. But are they safe for you? For your home? We’ll break down drain cleaners and how they aren’t really a substitute for a good quality plumbing service.
What Drain Cleaners Are Used For
Typically, these are in powder or liquid form, sometimes foam, and are put directly into the drain in a shower, sink, bathtub, or toilet. They can be fine for simple blockages of hair and grease if they are near the inlet. However, a real plumbing service will be needed if the blockage isn’t an easy fix, or is located in a spot where drain cleaners are useless. Calling on a professional can make your slow or stopped drains flow free again.
Dangers of Drain Cleaners
Cracked Toilet – Did you know that putting acidic drain cleaner directly into the toilet can cause the porcelain to crack? This can occur for a variety of reasons, but one of the main issues is homeowners not reading the directions and pouring too much in locations where they shouldn’t.
Splashing – Whether it is splashing back onto the homeowners’ eyes or skin, or if there have been several different drain cleaners used and there is a reaction that causes it to spray upwards, getting drain cleaner onto skin and eyes is a very real concern. Homeowners usually do not use proper safety eyewear and gloves when using the chemicals. A professional plumbing service keeps homeowners safe and secure.
Toxic Fumes – If a drain cleaner is mixed with ammonia, that is a recipe for chlorine gas, a potent toxic gas. If there is a strange smell that is permeating through the house after using a drain cleaner, be aware. Open windows and doors, make sure there is a fan or other exhaust. If this has happened you’ll want the poison control center to be called, as well as a professional to come out and get you back on track with your pipes and drains.
Pipe Damage – If you’ve poured drain cleaner down a pipe and the clog is still there long after the instructions have said that it should be cleared, that acid is just sitting in the pipe. It may be eating away at it, damaging the integrity of the pipe, and preparing for leaks and other damage. This is another increased risk to you and your home being exposed to the harmful effects of chemical drain cleaners and another real reason to not take chances and call a professional plumbing service.
Burns – Some chemical drain cleaners are able to cause reactions that come back onto your skin, face, and eyes causing burns and other injuries. These reactions can come on quickly without giving you the chance to move out of the way. There are many of these types of burns in St. Petersburg, FL that we see when we go out on plumbing service. Always take care and wear good PPE equipment if you are going to be tackling a pipe or drain issue on your own.
Equipment Damage and Destruction – Drain and sewer cables can become broken or damaged after having been exposed to drain cleaners. Sometimes you aren’t even able to see the damage as these steel wires are bound tight and can have microscopic tears. While they are ok under normal wear and tear, after being exposed to drain cleaners and those chemicals, they can cause cable failure or wire crystallization. A caustic drain cleaner can cause pitting and scarring of the cables, resulting in wire fatigue and breakage. Proper plumbing service calls can help keep your drains and lines in a top condition where you will be safer than relying on these over-the-counter drain cleaners.
Alternatives to Drain Cleaners
Snaking – This metal flexible rod can go down into a drain, called “snaking a drain”, and hook into a clog to dislodge it. It isn’t always able to do so, but it is a great asset over chemical drain cleaners and a lot safer.
Kitchen Non-chemical Dissolver – By using a combination of vinegar and baking soda, you can cook up an alternative that is much safer. With a half cup of each poured into the drain, let it sit for an hour, then pour boiling water down the drain afterward. This is another way that may dislodge the clog and would be safer for your pipes and yourself.
Plunging – No, this doesn’t mean to grab your toilet plunger and use it. There are special sink plungers on the market that you can try to use to dislodge a clog or a blockage. Always use these as the directions say and don’t force it, as it may cause damage in a different way.
Should any of these alternative clog-busting tips fail, then give your plumbing service professionals a call instead of reaching for the drain cleaner. It’s not worth the roll of the dice on the long-term effects on your pipes, nor is it worth the potential for problems to your health.
There is always a risk when someone has used a drain cleaner, for the pipes, the homeowner, and the plumbing specialist that has come out to fix your problems. With safety and protocols, we can help minimize these risks.
Drain Flo Plumbing for Your Plumbing Service Needs
Drain Flo Plumbing is the plumbing service expert in St. Petersburg, FL. We are here to help you navigate your pipes, drains, and lines to keep your home running safely and efficiently. Call us anytime you have questions!