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Grease, soap, hair, food remnants: there are many ways for your drains to get clogged. And as all skilled plumbers will tell you, there are many ways to deal with clogs, too. Yet there’s one DIY method to drain cleaning that still remains somewhat controversial in the plumbing industry: chemical cleaners.

So, is it save to use chemical drain cleaners? Keep reading to learn what you need to know from our Sterling HVAC and plumbing pros at Donmar Heating, Cooling & Plumbing.

Chemical Drain Cleaners 101

Most brands of chemical drain cleaners are made using sodium hydroxide—commonly known as caustic soda or lye—or sulfuric acid as a base. These chemicals are both toxic, and significantly corrosive on metals and organic materials. This is also the reason they’re so effective; the hydroxide ions in these cleaners release alkaline chemicals, which generate heat to dissolve clogs and clear drains of standing water. Other common materials found in store-bought drain cleaners include bleach, peroxides and nitrates, which pulverize clogs by oxidization, causing them to lose electrons and dissolve easily.

What Effect Do Chemical Drain Cleaners Have on Your System?

As mentioned above, the reason chemical drain cleaners are so effective is that they produce heat which eats away at most materials. But since metal is among the materials these chemicals break down, they can also be harmful to your pipes. And we’re not just talking about metal pipes, either—PVC pipes can also be broken down by drain chemicals overtime. This is also not to say anything of how dangerous these chemicals are for people. If enough chemical cleaner gets stuck in your drains and makes its way into your water, or if even a little is accidentally ingested by a child or pet, you will likely have to make a trip to the hospital.

Moreover, there’s another major concern with chemical cleaners which people often forget to consider. These products conceal larger problems in your plumbing system, obscuring the fact that clogged drains can actually be a symptom of more widespread issues. For instance, if you are experiencing frequent clogs in your kitchen, it could be because of a problem with your garbage disposal. Clogs are also often linked to broken pipes or backed up sewer lines. Yet if you’re always using chemical cleaners to address clogged drains, you wouldn’t necessarily know any of this.

What Are Some Alternatives to Chemical Drain Cleaners?

Although it’s okay to use chemical cleaners very sparingly, in general, their application should be limited. Luckily, there are simple DIY steps to remove clogs you can take on your own than do not involve pouring nasty chemicals down your drains. Something as simple as flushing your system out with boiling water and then cold water right after can often do the trick. Otherwise, using a mixture of baking soda and vinegar is another good option. Just pour a half a cup of each down your drain, let them sit overnight, and then wash them down your drains with hot water the next morning.

For serious clogs, meanwhile, your best bet is always going to be to call a plumber. Luckily, our Sterling experts at Donmar Heating, Cooling & Plumbing have everything you need to keep your drains flowing smoothly all year-round.

Call now for professional drain cleaning services including:

  • Drain snaking
  • Clog removal
  • Video drain line inspections
  • Hydrojetting
  • Rooter services (removing tree roots in drain lines)

Don’t let your drains go to waste! Fight clogs safely and effectively by calling (703) 457-8676, or click here to contact us online.

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