At some point, just about everyone has to deal with a clog in their home’s plumbing. A liquid drain cleaner may seem like the easiest solution. After all, you simply pour it down your drain, and the chemicals should take care of the rest--right?
The truth is that chemical drain cleaners pose some considerable risks to health, safety, and plumbing systems. Before using one to clear the clogs in your home, here are some top reasons to reconsider:
Many chemical drain cleaners contain corrosive chemicals that “melt” or “eat through” clogs. One example is an oily liquid called sulfuric acid, which gets extremely hot when mixed with water. Accidentally touching or getting splashed with this substance can cause cutaneous burns (damage to your skin caused by heat). Getting sulfuric acid in your eyes can result in watering, a burning sensation, and sometimes blindness.
Even if you don’t directly touch chemical drain cleaners, they can still harm you now and in the future. Merely breathing in the fumes from sulfuric acid in drain cleaners can irritate your respiratory tract and erode your teeth.
Just how often do drain cleaner injuries occur? Based on a retrospective review, it’s estimated that drain cleaners cause roughly 3,000 injuries per year nationwide and that one-third of those injuries include cutaneous burns. In fact, many plumbing companies will refuse to perform drain snaking services for your home if they know you’ve put a corrosive chemical cleaner down the clogged drain. The reason: it poses too high of a safety risk to their plumbers.
Liquid drain cleaners rely on chemical reactions to get rid of clogs. As mentioned above, the reaction is either corrosive enough to eat through a clog or hot enough to melt it away. Not all plumbing pipe materials stand up to this type of chemical reaction well again and again.
Additionally, if the clog is deep down in your plumbing, many times a chemical drain cleaner won’t be able to remove it effectively. Instead, these caustic chemicals will sit “on top” of the clog in standing water, creating an acidic environment that weakens that area of your pipes. This will make the pipe more brittle and susceptible to leaks over time.