Clogged pipes? Filthy plumbing systems? Over time, the pipelines become dirty, accumulating grime and unwanted elements. Thus, it’s important to know how to maintain this rather pivotal part of your household. And more often than not, maintenance of pipes includes using drain cleaners.
Despite its popularity, there are drain cleaners bad for pipes. Learn more about the advantages and disadvantages of drain cleaners through our thorough guide below. We will also cover some recommendations and other relevant information for your reference.
What is a drain cleaner?
A drain cleaner is a general method used to unblock any restriction or clog inside the tubes. These obstructions could include hair, grease buildup, leftovers, and such. And technically speaking, drain cleaners may refer to both chemicals, natural, and even mechanical options.
These encompass plumber’s snake, vinegar, baking soda, and chemical solutions. However, many people now associate drain cleaners with products that have chemicals. So, in this article, we will highlight drain cleaners that are chemical-based.
What are the pros and cons of using a drain cleaner?
Chemical drain cleaners have been widely used for decades. There are plenty of commercialized solutions designed to unclog the drainage system. Some of these are recommended by experts while some are discouraged.
Therefore, you need to evaluate the features of a drain cleaner thoroughly so you’ll be able to decide if it’s the most suitable choice.
One of the definite advantages of drain cleaners is the fact that they can actually remove blockages within the pipes. It gets rid of filthy stains and unpleasant odors thriving from your drains. And since these are chemicals, the unclogging process is much faster compared to products with natural ingredients.
There are also chemical cleaners that are specifically designed for a certain function. Some for the kitchen where there is prevalent grease in the sink. There are also other drain cleaning solutions that are created for the toilet and shower areas, where nasty odors may flourish.
On the other side of the discussion, most chemical cleaners are too strong for your pipe material. Because of the harsh chemicals, it may damage the pipe surface and eventually cause deterioration to the plumbing system or sewer line.
Plastic pipes, specifically PVC pipes, are the most common victims of warp damage from strong chemical properties. And more often than not, older tubes are highly susceptible to damage because the chemical residue may sit in the pipe for a long time.
What are the major factors that make drain cleaners not good for pipes?
To better comprehend the impact of drain cleaners, let’s take a closer look at the five major aspects. Each category is expounded further to give you a deeper insight and help you decide if drain cleaners are worth it or not.
1. Strong chemical reactions
This is the first factor that you need to consider thoroughly. Drain cleaners often generate negative chemical reactions, especially for metal pipes like copper, brass, galvanized steel, and cast iron. And if continuously fused with strong chemicals, these types may get corroded over time.
2. Longevity of the pipe system
In relation to the first one, drain cleaner certainly has an impact on the life of the pipes. The chemical properties weaken the pipe material. And if used regularly, it won’t be long for the tubes to have leaks. And the worst thing, it may lead to the breakage of pipes.
3. Risks associated with health
Another factor that makes drain cleaners not recommendable is the fact that it’s made of chemicals. Although these products effectively unclog pipes and even kill bacteria, they might pose risks to your health. For instance, if you use drain cleaners on a regular basis, then you might inhale toxic fumes.
These chemical fumes could be very dangerous to your body. And if exposed repetitively, it may cause breathing difficulties and more serious respiratory concerns. Likewise, it may trigger irritation in your eyes and skin.
4. Concerns related to the environment
Moving forward, you also have to consider its impact on the environment. The creation of these chemical products is already harmful. And since these solutions end up in bodies of water, then the damage is doubled or even tripled.
The products used, which are typically plastic, also add up to their negative impact. Most plastics are non-biodegradable. Hence, the continuous production of drain cleaners increases threats to our planet. And this threat not just affects the environment but also humans and wildlife in general.
5. Costs and repairs
Lastly, if the pipes get damaged due to warping or if there are leaks due to chemical reactions, then you need to replace the materials as soon as possible. And of course, pipes can be very expensive. More so, if you aren’t knowledgeable about pipe replacements, you are bound to contact a professional plumber.
So, aside from the cost of materials, you also need to consider the labor costs. Therefore, these would be extra expenses that would affect your savings.
So, are drain cleaners bad for pipes?
If we take into account the key factors mentioned above, then the answer would be affirmative. Yes, drain cleaners are generally bad for pipes. But of course, when it comes to resolving issues like clogged drains, killing bacteria, and the like, these products do their job effectively.
Therefore, it’s highly suggested to look for other means, which are more beneficial to you and to the environment. To help you out, we’ve collated some of the best options that you can use to clean pipes and remove restrictions within the tubes.
What are the best replacements for drain cleaners?
1. Hot water
Did you know that hot water is one of the simplest yet most effective ways to unclog drains? Hot water helps in loosening the clog trapped in the pipes. It also minimizes the grease and soap residue accumulated over time. But before doing this, you need to make sure that the pipes are not plastic.
It’s because some plastic tubes are not heat resistant. Therefore, the hot water trick is only applicable to metal ones. Also, use boiling water instead of lukewarm water. The latter won’t do the job as it is not enough to dissolve the blockages.
2. Baking soda and vinegar
Start by sprinkling baking soda into the drain and then add a cup of vinegar. Close the drainage outlet to let the mixture sit for a couple of minutes. Afterward, pour hot water down the pipe to soften any restrictions.
3. Hydrogen peroxide
On the other hand, there’s hydrogen peroxide, another home product that provides valuable assistance in unclogging blocked pipes and drainage systems. As a mild chemical solution that is even used in the medical industry, hydrogen peroxide can serve as a bleaching agent and oxidizer.
So, if the first two options do not work, you may try this trick instead. Combine hydrogen peroxide with water, and then pour the mixture into the drain. Plug the drain and let the mixture settle for at least 30 minutes.
A plunger is another must-have item in every home. There are several types of plungers in the market, but you may opt for the standard one. To use this one, you need to place the plunger over the drain and make sure it is tightly sealed to the surface.
Using hard pressure, follow a push-and-pull motion vertically. If the draining is still slow, try to exert more force while plunging a couple of times.
5. Drain snakes and augers
Aside from plungers, you can use a drain snake or popularly known as a plumber’s snake. This tool is suitable for minor clogs in the bathroom or kitchen sink. Simply place the coiled tip down the drain and twist the hand until you feel the obstruction.
Once the clog gets attached to the coiled end, crank the handle up and pull back the snake to remove the blockages. You may flush hot water down the drain to clear out the remaining elements. Meanwhile, you may also invest in an auger, which works best for bigger tubes like those in the shower drain and toilet.
When to seek professional help?
There are times when drain blockages are caused by underlying problems in the drainage or pipe system. Henceforth, if the issue is recurring and if there are water or sewage backups, then you need to contact a professional plumber as soon as possible.
Seeking assistance from the experts is highly recommended to prevent serious harm to the pipeline and avoid further damage to other drains. Plumbers are the best individuals who can resolve the issue effectively and give relevant insights.
In a nutshell, your decision all boils down to your preferences and principles. But of course, choosing the good side with better and humane benefits is much more suitable, right?