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The Effects of Caustic Drain Cleaners

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Posted January 2, 2023
Caustic drain cleaners

You’ve seen the commercials. The commercial actor grabs a bottle of drain cleaner and pours it down the drain, restoring an unimpeded flow and leaving the pipes no worse for the wear, right? Not exactly. The drain becomes clogged with food, grease, hair, or debris, causing water to back into your sink or tub. In the long run, caustic drain cleaners can do more damage than good. They also can cause devastating injuries when used incorrectly. We are your local plumbing experts and we can help you understand the dangers associated with these cleaners and offer safer solutions to keep your drains clear!

What’s happening in a clogged drain?

When you shower, more than just water goes down the drain. Bathroom drains can accumulate layers of dirt, soap scum, moisturizing substances, hair, and other debris that builds up in your drain. This happens over time. You may not notice that your shower is draining slower until you’re standing in a puddle. Kitchen sinks suffer the same scenarios as cooking grease, oil, and food particles make their way to the sewers. Your toilet may also clog, often because people have flushed items that aren’t meant to be flushed, like feminine hygiene products or wipes. Clogs are messy, and we understand why you want a fast solution.

What’s in a caustic drain cleaner, and how does it work?

You may be tempted to reach for a bottle of drain cleaner that’s sitting under your sink. The television commercial isn’t lying when it shows that these concoctions can clean your clogs – they are often quite effective at breaking up a blockage and flushing it away. But even though they work, they’re not necessarily good and safe for your home and its plumbing.

Most caustic drain cleaners are made from caustic soda or lye. They create a chemical reaction in your drains that produces heat and makes the clog easier to dissolve. But they also eat through the pipe as they work to bust the clog, which can lead to a leaky pipe that’s much more expensive to fix than a clogged drain. Your odds of having trouble go up if you’re dealing with a completely clogged drain because the chemical has more time to damage the pipes while sitting on the blockage. The damage might not occur after the first use, but each subsequent treatment can destroy a little more of the pipe, resulting in a big problem.

The same chemical reaction that helps caustic drain cleaners burn through a clog will also burn through your clothing and skin. There’s a reason why the bottles come with warning labels. Accidental ingestion or incorrect usage can be dangerous or even deadly.

What are some safer alternatives?

You still need to do something about the clogged drain. Fortunately, there are safer solutions that you can often try at home:

Use a plunger or a drain snake. A plunger relies on physics, putting pressure on the pipe that pushes the water downward. As you pull it up, it reduces the pressure and helps to dislodge the clog. A drain snake can help you snag that hair and another crud that never quite makes it down the drain.

Try an enzymatic cleaner. Unlike caustic drain cleaners, enzymatic cleaners rely on bacteria or enzymes to eat away at the offending blockage. They may need more time to work, but they’re a lot kinder to your pipes and your health.

When is it time for a plumber?

If the DIY treatments aren’t working, consider reaching out to an expert plumber like Air Specialist A/C Heating Plumbing of Houston. Our special training and tools allow us to diagnose the culprit behind the clog. Sometimes it’s just a clog, but sometimes the backup can be caused by problems like tree roots and pipe issues. Our drain clearing experts will assess your pipes and offer a solution that meets your home’s needs and budget.

Your home is your greatest investment. Air Specialist A/C Heating Plumbing backs all its work with a 100% satisfaction guarantee and warranties. With more than 50 years of experience in the Houston area, you can rely on Air Specialist for all your heating, cooling, and plumbing needs. If you have plumbing or HVAC concerns, call us or contact us online to schedule an appointment.


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