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The Dangers of Chemical Drain Cleaners

When hair, food, grease, soap scum and other debris build up in your drains, causing clogs, and your sink or tub begins to drain slowly or not at all, you might be tempted to grab a bottle of drain cleaner as a quick fix. The problem is that while some chemical drain cleaners are initially effective on minor clogs, they usually only work temporarily, and the dangers they bring are serious, even life-threatening in some cases. Drain cleaners are one of the most dangerous products found in your home.

Chemical Drain Cleaner Ingredients
It’s important to know what exactly drain cleaners are made of that’s meant to fight clogs. The most common ingredients are lye (sodium hydroxide), bleach (sodium hypochlorite), and sulfuric acid.

Lye and Bleach
Lye and bleach cleaners are caustic bases, which won’t harm your pipes but will damage rubber and plastic. They may eat away at a clog at first, but chances are the clog will return, and pretty quickly. Lye and bleach can also cause eye irritation, skin burns, hair loss, and other serious problems if inhaled or ingested.

Acids are dangerous, period, and as a drain cleaner can be harmful to your pipes, especially old, corroded, or PVC pipes. Acid cleaners generate heat to dissolve debris, producing an acidic gas, with the potential to ruin porcelain, stainless steel, and aluminum fixtures. Accidental contact with acid poses severe health risks, as well.

Drain Cleaner Precautions
When using a drain cleaner, there are several precautions you’re advised to take in order to protect yourself. These include wearing gloves and protective eyewear, opening windows and ensuring adequate ventilation in your home, and leaving the room while the cleaner is working. These practices alone indicate just how dangerous drain cleaners can be and how toxic they are. And, if different drain cleaners are ever mixed, it can make for a deadly concoction.

Mechanical and Natural Methods
When it comes down to it, plungers, drain augers, and natural products are safer and more effective at clearing clogs than chemicals. In a 2006 study, Consumer Reports found that mechanical methods like a plunger were more effective than any chemical drain cleaner they tested. Depending on the extent of the clog you are dealing with, you may need a more powerful tool to do the job. On a regular basis, boiling water, baking soda, and vinegar are a few household products you can use to clean your drains and diminish any odors.

Professional Plumbing Experts
The next time a clog in your home arises, think twice before reaching for that bottle of drain cleaner. Gillece provides professional drain and sewer cleaning services for any type of problem you may be dealing with. Our expert plumbers can identify the clog culprit, use state-of-the art tools to clear the drain without chemicals, and help to prevent clogs from coming back. Call Gillece for all of your drain cleaning needs!