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Does Drain Cleaner Work? Not as Advertised

Drain cleaner may cause more harm than good to your plumbing pipes

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Clogged drains are not only a headache, but they can lead to other issues in your pipes as well. In these situations, most people will try to DIY their plumbing before they call an expert in. That usually means they scramble for the store-bought drain cleaner and hope for the best. But does drain cleaner work? The answer is often no—so let’s take a look at why.

What Types of Ingredients are in Your Drain Cleaner?

Drain cleaners are either chemical-based or enzyme-based. Both formulas work to digest or burn through the obstructions blocking your pipe.

Chemical-based cleaners tend to use acids, oxidizers, or caustics. This includes ingredients like sulfuric acid, sodium hypochlorite, lye, or caustic soda. While these solutions create lots of heat to burn through blockages, they can damage your pipes if you use them too much and too often.

Enzyme-based cleaners contain bacteria that produce enzymes when they meet organic matter, like food, hair, or mold. Enzymes help break all of that gunk down into bits and pieces that are easy to flush away with water. These cleaners tend to be much easier on the environment and on your home pipes.

Long-Term Damage from Drain Cleaners

Chemical-based drain cleaners might work in the short run, but they cause damage to your drains (and even your health).

  1. Leaks

Caustic chemicals, such as lye, can create cracks in your pipes, sinks, and toilets. These newly formed cracks and crevices can cause leaks that are expensive to repair. Furthermore, cracks in your toilet are hard to repair—and will likely need to be replaced.

  1. Burst Pipes

Pipes are vulnerable to the corrosive ingredients in many drain cleaners. This is especially true if you live in a home with older pipes. Corrosion can lead to burst pipes, which usually causes disastrous flooding.

  1. Unsafe for Skin and Clothes

Drain cleaner liquids can burn or irritate your skin, eyes, and lungs. Mixing drain cleaners with other cleaning products can be especially dangerous.

Additionally, avoid using these solutions in standing bodies of water, such as in clogged toilets. They can splash on your skin or clothes. Keep in mind that even professional plumbers use extreme caution with these chemical-based solutions.

Does Drain Cleaner Work Well?

Slimy to the touch, biofilm is a thin film of bacteria that lines your pipes. It’s the sludge that holds clogs together in your drains. A drain cleaner can potentially break down the solid chunks of organic matter within the biofilm and unblock your pipes. However, a liquid drain cleaner can never coat the entire drain or pipe. There will likely still be organic matter where a drain cleaner can’t reach it.

That’s why you need a plumbing expert to unclog your drain instead.

Say No to Chemical Drain Cleaners

Does drain cleaner work? In some instances, this solution does work—but it often damages your pipes or leaves the entire problem unsolved. For a more permanent solution that won’t corrode your pipes, call us at 602-883-2761. We’ll send a plumbing specialist to your house for a safe, cost-effective solution.