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What Are the Dangers of Using Chemical Drain Cleaning Products?

A man pours a chemical drain cleaner down his bathroom sink in his Springfield, MO, home.)

If you are having plumbing problems in your home in Springfield, MO, you might be tempted to pour some chemical drain cleaner down the drain to see whether that resolves the issue. However, chemical drain cleaners are not always the right tool for the job. They can also present serious risks to both people and property. At Air Services, we are professionals in drain cleaning and we can provide you with some helpful tips to take the best care of your plumbing system. Here are some of the main dangers to watch out for when using chemical drain cleaners in your home.

How Do Chemical Drain Cleaners Work?

Drain cleaners can be found in powder, crystal, liquid, foam, and gel forms. They all function in the same way. The products’ harsh chemicals react with the clog to produce gas and heat. This dissolves the blockage, allowing the water to flow again. There are several different types of chemical drain cleaners commonly sold in stores and used in homes. The first kind is caustic. These drain cleaners contain ingredients like lye that give electrons to the material that has caused the clog. This creates a chemical reaction, which makes grease thinner and easier to dissolve through the heat it produces.

The second kind is called oxidizing. Instead of giving electrons, these cleaners take electrons from the organic matter through a process called oxidation. This type of cleaner contains ingredients like bleach and nitrates. Their effectiveness makes them some of the most popular types of liquid drain cleaners. The last type is called acidic. This is the harshest type of drain cleaner and is not used often. These cleaners contain ingredients like hydrochloric acid or even sulfuric acid and create a chemical reaction that produces hydronium ions. This cleaner is for worst-case scenarios and can often cause more harm than good. Actually, all drain cleaners have the potential to be harmful to your home and your health.

Health Risks

Drain cleaners contain chemicals that can damage your health. The high toxicity of drain cleaners such as bleach, peroxide, lye, and others is extremely dangerous. They can be fatal if swallowed or inhaled. If you spill drain cleaner on your hand, the corrosive chemicals could irritate or even burn your skin. Getting the drain cleaner in your eyes is even more dangerous. Wearing gloves and being careful not to put the product anywhere near your eyes can help to protect you, but you still need to worry about the fumes released by the drain cleaner. These fumes can hang around for a while after you use the cleaner, so you will need to open a window to protect your lungs and airways.

Risks to Plumbing

Although the chemical reactions will clear the pipe of potential clogs, they will also expose your pipes to heat and gas. This can be disastrous for your pipes, especially if you have soft PVC pipes or old ones that are prone to leaks. If exposed to harsh chemicals for an extended period of time, old seals, chalking, and metal fittings can corrode. Some drain cleaning products are so corrosive they can damage the pipes they are supposed to clean. Depending on the type of metal your pipes are made of, and their age, they could react with chemical drain cleaners and corrode.

Natural drain cleaners aren’t necessarily any safer, as they still contain strong acids that can damage the finish on your sink or bathtub. However, the worst damage that can happen is when the cleaner fails to quickly clear your clogged drain. A clogged pipe may be caused by an issue such as a tree root breaking through or a joint fitting becoming loose, which a drain cleaner cannot remove. In such cases, the drain cleaner is left steaming in your pipes, giving it plenty of time to cause damage. As experts in the field, we strongly recommend contacting our team for professional plumbing repair.

Old broken sludge polypropylene plumbing pipes with corrosion from the use of chemical drain cleaners in a Springfield, MO, residence.

Drain Cleaners Don’t Always Work

In many cases, drain cleaners don’t even work to get rid of the clog in your pipes. If your plumbing problems are caused by a blockage in the sewer line, tree roots, or a solid object lodged in the pipe, drain cleaner won’t help to resolve the issue. In fact, it could make the situation worse by sitting in your pipes, exposing them to heat and gas. This will likely cause damage to your pipes instead of resolving the clog. The effectiveness of drain cleaners really depends on the cause of the problem. Before using store-bought drain cleaners, it would be wise to consult with a professional plumber to make sure you understand the situation and what is necessary to resolve the problem. The last thing you want is to make the issue worse and then pay more in repair costs when the whole situation could have been avoided. Contact Air Services today.

Harm to the Environment

Chemical drain cleaners are among the most dangerous plumbing wastes. Drain cleaner residue frequently sinks into groundwater and soil. It is extremely dangerous to any animals or plants in the area, as well as to people who use the groundwater on a daily basis. It is simply better for the environment to avoid these hazardous chemicals and instead hire drain cleaning professionals. They will have the proper tools and equipment to identify the problem with your pipes and treat them with care, while repairing any leaks or cracks along the way. This option is far better than simply guessing and pouring a potentially harmful toxin down your drains, hoping for the best. Make the right decision for your home and for the environment by calling your local professionals now.

A professional male plumber closely examines a sink drain in a Springfield, MO, home to determine the location of the clog.

Call the Professionals

Drain cleaning companies have far more tools in their toolboxes to resolve drain blockages. Rather than relying on drain cleaners that don’t always work to solve the plumbing problems in your Springfield, MO, home, call Air Services at (417) 309-6279 for expert help and quality service.

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