What Actually Happens When You Use a Chemical Drain Cleaner


Are you trying to figure out how to deal with a stubborn clog that won’t budge no matter what you do? If so, you may be thinking of using a chemical drain cleaner to help finish the job. But what exactly does this product do?

What Actually Happens When You Use a Chemical Drain Cleaner

All American Plumbing, Heating & Air has many years of experience in this line of work. We’ll help you understand how these cleaners really work and what dangers they may pose so that you can make an informed decision about whether or not to use one.

How Do Chemical Drain Cleaners Work?

Are you aware that there are two types of chemical drain cleaners?

  • The first type is an oxidizing cleaner.
  • The second is a caustic cleaner.

Oxidizing drain cleaners remove clogs with a combination of different actions. Nitrates break down the organic matter in the clog. It also gives off gas and heat that remove grease and oil from the clog.

Caustic drain cleaners, on the other hand, work by breaking down the clog with a highly alkaline solution and hydroxide ions. This combination generates heat that turns grease into soap. This action allows the clog to be flushed away with water.

Are Chemical Drain Cleaners Dangerous?

Chemical drain cleaners work in a way that’s different from traditional spray and liquid cleaners that clean your stove and toilet bowl, respectively. They work with powerful chemical reactions. As a result, there is a more significant potential for danger when using such products. Since these chemicals can generate heat quickly and dissolve organic material, they can also cause skin burns and damage your pipes. Every year, there are reports of people being seriously injured by these cleaners.

Research shows that chemical drain cleaners cause no less than 3,000 injuries in the United States every year. In fact, about 30% of these injuries are severe burns. Professional plumbers also report that some of the calls they receive are to repair pipes that have been damaged by these cleaners.

Harmful Ingredients in Chemical Drain Cleaners

While chemical drain cleaners may contain a host of different ingredients, the most common and harmful ones include:

Sodium hydroxide (also known as lye): This is a corrosive alkali that can cause serious chemical burns. It is solid at room temperature but dissolves quickly in water to release heat. Eye and skin irritation or burns, as well as loss of hair, are some of the potential injuries that can be caused by contact with this substance.

Sulfuric acid: This is a corrosive mineral acid that is also used in car batteries. It gets very hot when in contact with water and can cause serious eye as well as skin damage. It will also damage other organic materials like clothing and wood.

Are Chemical Drain Cleaners Harmful to Plumbing Pipes?

Chemical drain cleaners are not only harmful to humans but also to your plumbing pipes. Over time, the chemicals in these cleaners can damage your pipes, particularly if they fail to remove the clog. When the drain cleaner is unable to do its job, in addition to the clog, you now have a drain cleaner residue that can further damage your pipes. The caustic nature of some of these cleaners will cause them to eat away at your pipes, which can lead to leaks and even burst pipes.

If you have used chemical cleaners on your pipes before you call a plumber, be sure to inform them. The plumber will need to take special steps and use different equipment to safely work on your damaged pipes.

Chemical-Free Drain Cleaning Solutions

If you desire a safe and effective way to clean your drains, you may want to consider using professional drain cleaning methods. These methods are also more successful at removing stubborn and deep-seated clogs.

  • Regular clogs can be removed by a plumber using a plunger or drain snake.
  • If your home is subject to repeated clogs, you may want to consider having your drain pipes cleaned with hydro jetting. This is a high-pressure water cleaning method that removes all debris from your drain pipes, including the buildup of grease and oil.

You can avoid having to use chemical drain cleaners by regularly cleaning your drains. This can be done using a combination of hot water and baking soda or vinegar. You can also prevent clogs by being mindful of what you put down your drains. Avoid pouring grease, oil, coffee grounds, and other food waste down the drain.

All American Plumbing, Heating & Air is Only A Call Away

If you have a clogged drain, give us a call. We will be happy to unclog your drain using safe and effective methods. We also offer hydro jetting services for homes that always get the job done regardless of the circumstances. For all your plumbing needs, contact All American Plumbing, Heating & Air at (209) 710-5629 starting today!