How to Choose the Right Drain Cleaning Product

Clogged drains can be a major nuisance, but using the right cleaner can help you get them back up and running. Regular drain cleaning can also prevent serious problems down the line.

Drain Cleaning

To avoid costly clogs, try plunging and flushing your drains semi-regularly with boiling water. However, larger or tougher blockages require professional West Chester Drain Cleaning.

Chemical drain cleaners are sprays or liquids that use powerful chemical reactions to dissolve organic material like hair, grease, and soap scum. While these products can be effective in some cases, they can also damage your pipes and pose health risks to you and your family. Most plumbers recommend avoiding them and instead trying natural methods of unclogging a drain such as hot water, a plunger, or a snake.

Most chemical drain cleaners work through a process of either donating or receiving electrons from the substance causing the clog to break it down and liquefy it. However, they all generate heat during this reaction and can cause serious burns if the chemicals come into contact with your skin or if you are not careful when using them. These products can also erode your pipes if they come into contact with them regularly or if the temperature is too high.

In addition, all chemical drain cleaners produce fumes that can irritate your nose, eyes, and throat. If your space doesn’t have enough ventilation, these fumes can also build up inside your home and contribute to poor air quality. Long-term exposure to these fumes can also aggravate respiratory conditions such as asthma.

Liquid chemical drain cleaners typically contain acids, caustics, or oxidizers. Acidic cleaners, such as sulfuric or hydrochloric acid, are able to dissolve most types of clogs but may need to be used multiple times before the clog is completely removed. Caustic cleaners, which are usually made of sodium carbonate or calcium oxide, can be extremely dangerous to your skin and can corrode your pipes. Oxidizers, which are often advertised as “green” drain cleaners, can actually be more hazardous than acids since they release vapors that can irritate your nose, throat, and eyes.

A more environmentally friendly option is to use an enzyme-based drain cleaner such as Green Gobbler, which can be purchased online or at some hardware stores. This product uses a combination of naturally-occurring bacteria and enzymes to digest organic waste such as hair, grease, soap scum, and paper. While it won’t be as fast as a chemical drain cleaner, it is less likely to harm your pipes and comes with a manual clog remover tool for added convenience.

Oxidizing Drain Cleaners

Chemical drain cleaners work by generating heat through a chemical reaction, and they’re effective at dissolving soap scum, hair clogs and food-based blockages. However, the chemicals they contain are toxic and can damage your pipes if overused or used incorrectly. They also pose a risk to your health and may even cause injury if they come into contact with skin, eyes or mucous membranes.

Caustic drain cleaners are basic solutions that contain substances like lye or caustic potash. As bases, they give electrons to the clogging material and generate a reaction that releases heat and turns grease into a water-soluble soap-like substance that can be flushed away. They’re also heavier than water, so they sink through standing water and can reach a clog more easily than acidic drain cleaners.

Oxidizing drain cleaners are slightly more acidic than caustic drain cleaners and use substances like household bleach, peroxides and nitrates to dissolve organic material in the clog. They work well on soap scum, hair and food-based clogs, but they don’t produce as much gas or heat as acidic or caustic drain cleaners. They’re also less damaging to your pipes, but they’re not as fast-acting as other drain cleaners.

Another type of chemical drain cleaner is sulfuric acid, which works to dissolve clogs by creating hydronium ions in the clogged materials. This creates a fissure in the clog, which allows water to wash away the material and clear the blockage. Like nitrates and bleach, sulfuric acid can corrode your pipes, so it’s important to follow all manufacturer’s instructions when using it.

Enzymatic drain cleaners offer a more sustainable option for cleaning your clogged pipes. They’re formulated with bacterial cultures and enzyme preparations that feed on organic matter, breaking it down and allowing it to be washed away. These cleaners are slower than acid, caustic and oxidizing cleaners, but they’re effective at removing most types of organic clogs. They’re also safer for your pipes and can be used preventively to keep your septic system in good working condition.

Acidic Drain Cleaners

A chemical drain cleaner contains corrosive chemicals, such as sulfuric acid (muratic acid), sodium hydroxide (lye) or potassium hydroxide (caustic potash). These cleaners generate heat and dissolve organic substances like hair, grease and food. They also remove rust and scale deposits from pipes. They work well for clogs close to the drain opening, but are not effective on solid obstructions farther down the pipe. These chemicals can be harmful to your eyes, skin and lungs. Long-term exposure can cause respiratory problems including coughing, wheezing and difficulty breathing. They can also erode older drain pipes.

Commercial settings frequently experience the build-up of grease, minerals and other materials that can clog drains and pipes. An acid-based commercial drain solvent, such as Hercules Clobber(r), quickly breaks down these substances, clears clogs and inhibits future build-up. It is safe for use in most metal pipes and works effectively on a wide variety of organic materials.

While acid-based cleaners are more effective than most household drain cleaners, they may not be suitable for all clogs. Because of their toxicity, they must be used with caution and only in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions. Using too much can damage pipes, especially older ones made of galvanized steel.

Some commercial products contain high concentrations of sulfuric acid that can eat away at the internal walls of pipes and lead to leaks and failure. They can also corrode aluminum, cast iron and some plastics. These cleaners are not recommended for residential use.

If you encounter a stubborn clog that is not easily removed with a plunger, consider hiring a professional plumber to handle it. Professionals often carry specialty snakes that can push, grab or break up a larger blockage in the pipe. They also have access to powerful chemicals that are not available to the public.

Avoid pouring any commercial or household chemical drain cleaners down your toilets. These substances can contaminate drinking water and harm your pipes. If you must use a drain cleaner, follow the instructions carefully and protect your eyes, skin and mucous membranes from splashes and spills. Be sure to wear rubber gloves and protective clothing, and work in a well-ventilated area. Never mix different types of chemical drain cleaners, as they can react to create toxic gases or even explode.

Enzyme-Based Drain Cleaners

Enzyme-based drain cleaners don’t contain chemicals that can cause severe damage to pipes or emit toxic fumes. They work by feeding on organic matter like food particles, hair, mildew, and dead skin cells that clog drains over time. These bacteria cultures dissolve these materials and allow water to flow freely. Some enzyme drain cleaners come in the form of a stick that you can insert into a drain to activate them, while others are liquid formulas that you pour down your drain.

Most off-the-shelf chemical drain cleaners produce dangerous fumes that can irritate the nose, eyes, and throat. These harmful fumes are also hazardous for those with respiratory conditions and can trigger asthma attacks and exacerbate heart problems. These chemicals can also corrode your drain and pipe walls over time.

Biological drain cleaners, on the other hand, are safe for your health and for your pipes. These drain cleaners liquefy the fats, oils, and greases that clog drains so they can be flushed away with hot water. The bacteria in these biological drain cleaners will then digest the clog matter, turning it into carbon dioxide and water. These natural drain cleaners are better for your septic system and for the environment than chemical drain cleaners.

The one drawback of biological drain cleaners is that they can take longer to work than caustic chemical drain cleaners. This is because they require the organic matter to be a certain size before they can start breaking it down. If your clog is particularly large, you may need to use a physical drain cleaner such as a plumber snake or rooter machine to break it up first.

If you’re considering using an enzymatic drain cleaner, try treating the clog with baking soda and hot water before applying the solution. This will help to soften any material and make it easier for the bacterial colony to start eating away at the clog. Also, be sure to choose a septic-safe enzyme drain cleaner to prevent damaging your pipes or contaminating the septic system. Finally, be patient – it will likely take more than a few hours for your enzyme drain cleaner to completely clear the clog.