Drain cleaners include ingredients such as hydrochloric acid, sulfuric acid, sodium hypochlorite, lye, caustic soda, sodium hydroxide that can weaken pipes over time and are bad for the environment. The way chemical drain cleaners work is they react with a clog to liquefy it and create an opening for water to flow again. It does not clean the pipe, it merely clears an opening.
Even though water can once again flow through the pipe, over time, the pipe will clog again.
To properly fix a clog, it is best to contact a professional plumber to come out and clear the line.
It's tempting to look for an easy fix when you have a slow drain. Hardware stores and even grocery stores have dozens of products, all promising quick success. But the vast majority of those products contain harsh chemicals that may create long-term damage to your pipes. Our advice is to avoid using a home improvement store product. Instead, get stubborn clogs cleared by a professional plumber and then use a quality, natural enzyme cleaner to prevent future problems.
Most commercial drain cleaners use heavy-duty chemicals to react with clogs and dissolve them. Acids, caustics, and oxidizers are all common active ingredients. The chemical reaction forms through contact with the clog surface closest to the drain. Sometimes, that is enough contact to dissolve part of the clog and get your water flowing again.
Another type of drain cleaner uses natural enzymes instead of harsh chemicals. Enzyme-based drain cleaners prevent blockages by keeping your pipes clear. They introduce healthy bacteria that eat the organic material in your pipes: grease, hair, algae, mold, and other organic waste. The "good" bacteria reproduce quickly, cleaning your water lines as they go. Because they work over time, they are very good at maintaining clear pipes. However, they are not the best at immediately clearing a blockage.
The problem with most commercial drain cleaners is that the chemical reactions can damage your pipes. They can degrade old, galvanized pipe as well as the solder used in copper pipes. Plastic pipes can warp from chemical overuse, making leaks more likely. In addition to hurting your pipes, these chemicals can be dangerous to have in your home. Glove, a respirator, and eye protection are necessary because contact can cause serious harm. These powerful chemicals aren't something you want to keep around your house, especially near kids and pets. Finally, liquid drain cleaners also hurt our waterways and the environment.
When you have a clogged drain, it's okay to use a plunger to try to loosen it. Be sure to use the right kind. You can tell by their shape: sink plungers look like a cup, and toilet plungers usually have a bell shape. The correct form allows the plunger to create a good seal. You can learn more on our website about how to use a plunger correctly.
If a plunger doesn't work after a few tries, give us a call. Drain clearing calls are typically not expensive, and it's worth it to safely get your drain cleared.
Once the drain is flowing again, we recommend using an enzyme-based product to keep your pipes in good condition. Our favorite product is Endure, a combination of natural bacteria strains that thrive on fat, oils, and grease in any plumbing system. In every dose, billions of bacteria "wake up" and feed on dead organic waste in grease, food particles, soap scum, paper, and bio-material. The bacteria colony doubles every 20 minutes, cleaning your pipes as it grows.
Endure is non-caustic, non-acidic, and safe for people, pets, and the planet. When used regularly, Endure has significant benefits:
Whenever a plumbing problem pops up, we are here to help. Our plumbers are professionals ready to help keep your plumbing system working for you. We are committed to 5-star service before, during, and after your service call. Call if you have questions--we would love to hear from you!