Birmingham Home Inspectors Blog

Do clog reducing chemicals really hurt your plumbing
August 6th, 2018 9:12 AM
Inevitably, we will all look down while brushing our teeth one day and notice that the sink is not draining quite as fast as it use too. We notice this during our home inspections quite frequently. In fact, is probably one of the more common things we note in our inspection report, especially for bathrooms. 

But before you go reaching for the house hold drain cleaner lets pause for a second and think about the best way to solve the issue.

Many common house hold cleaning agents can contain dangerous/toxic ingredients. For instance, some variations of cleaning agents contain lye. The problem is that some liquid waste can carry these toxic chemicals out into rivers and streams and oceans potentially becoming harmful to wildlife.

Drain cleaners often pose a physical threat to humans and many have warning labels attesting to this. These cleaners are often caustic which is good for cleaning but bad for skin contact. Caustic means that the cleaner is able to burn or corrode organic tissue by a chemical reaction.

 It is very important to keep these cleaning agents in a safe area away from children and pets where they can do no harm. Specifically think about the application of a cleaner to a tub and then having a child bath in it later or your household cat roll around in the tub soon afterwards.

Considerations need to be made if you decide to use drain cleaners.

The way many of these household drain cleaners work can sometimes be detrimental to the waste line system. The cleaners sit in the pipe and generate heat at the clog. They stay in the same place until the clog dissolves. The downside of course, is that this generated heat can potentially damage plumbing pipes. 

With this generation of heat, older corroded pipes can become damaged, there is potential for porcelain like toilets too crack. Even on PVC pipes repeated clogs in the same area can wear through the pipe.

There are some eco-friendly alternatives too store bought drain cleaners. Some folks have had good results with using common household ingredients such as baking soda and vinegar. Obviously, where applicable a plunger is always a good alternative. You can also manually remove and clear out the sink trap for a clogged sink.

Now, knowing all this, we still inevitably use these drain cleaners such as Drano. For things like partial blocks in pipes it seems to be less detrimental to waste lines as the added water flow helps to dilute the potentially harmful chemicals. As always though, be careful when using them as the easiest method is not always the best in the long run. 

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Posted by Andrew Griffith on August 6th, 2018 9:12 AMPost a Comment

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