There’s nothing more frustrating — and disgusting — than getting our pipes clogged. When this happens, we usually have one of two options: we either call the plumber, or we call upon our inner plumber and find ways to unclog our pipes ourselves. After all, how difficult can it be?
Depending on the severity of the clog and its reasons, fixing our pipe flow can be pretty easy or very difficult. On the other hand, going for chemical drain cleaners right away, which many people choose to do might not be the best option.
So in case you’re wondering whether or not to use a chemical drain cleaner, and how to use it, here’s everything you need to know.
Make sure you need to use a chemical drain cleaner
Before deciding to use a chemical drain cleaner, you should make sure you absolutely need to use it. After all, most chemical drain cleaners include some pretty strong and often toxic chemicals. We’ll get back into this in a moment, but first, how do you make sure you need a chemical drain cleaner for your clogged pipe?
There are three steps to take:
- Identify the Problem
The first step is to identify the source of the clog. If the cause of the clogging is because there’s a foreign object stuck there, chemical drain cleaners will do you little good. In case your pipe is blocked due to the accumulation of materials, then maybe a chemical drain cleaner can work — but there are other factors still to be considered.
- Make Sure a Chemical Drain Cleaner Works in Your Case
Other factors to take into consideration include the severity of the clog, its location, and the material of the pipe. Chemical drain cleaners work best when there’s a slow-flowing clogging, but it might not be too effective in the case of a completely clogged pipe with standing water. Moreover, some chemical drain cleaners shouldn’t be used in toilets, garbage disposals, bathtubs, grinder pumps, macerators, or septic systems. The material of your pipe is also a deciding factor, as many chemical drain cleaners can ruin porcelain, stainless steel, aluminum, and old pipes.
- Check for Other Draining Alternatives
Most of the chemical drain cleaners include some pretty strong chemicals, so you shouldn’t use them unless you absolutely have to. If you can find alternative ways to deal with your clogging, you should exhaust all of your options before resorting to them.
Pick the right chemical drain cleaner
If you’ve reached the conclusion that using a chemical drain cleaner is your best bet, the next step is to pick up the right kind. There are many kinds and forms of chemical drain cleaners, as Chris Lambrecht at Pest Policy explains, some of which are safer and more effective to use than other drain cleaners. It’s always the best idea to go over the reviews, pros, and cons of any chemical drain cleaner before choosing one. That way, you can know what to expect and whether or not it’s the best one for you.
- Different Types of Chemical Drain Cleaners
There are mostly three kinds of chemical drain cleaners: caustic, oxidizing, and acidic drain cleaners. Caustic drain cleaners are basic in nature, and they include substances like lye and caustic potash. The nature of their chemical reaction transforms the clogging grease into a soap-like material, which is then much easier to dissolve and dispose of. Oxidizing chemical drain cleaners react with organic materials found in the clog, where bleach, peroxides, or nitrates included in the ingredients clear the blockage using heat and gas. As for acidic chemical drain cleaners, they’re usually not available for public use due to the highly corrosive acidic chemicals included.
- Different Forms of Chemical Drain Cleaners
When searching for a chemical drain cleaner, you’ll find two forms to choose from. There’s a liquid drain cleaner, usually in the form of gels, and there’s a solid one that can be in the form of powder or granulated crystals.
The directions for use, precautions, and efficacy of the drain cleaner can vary according to its type and formula. Make sure to properly check its uses, and make sure that your needs are covered before choosing a certain product.
Follow the instructions of use
Once you settle on a chemical drainer, the first thing you should do is read all of its safety precautions, risks, possible side effects, and instructions of use. Many chemical drainers contain caustic chemicals, some of which can be toxic to both humans and pets alike. Moreover, some produce strong heat, gas, or foam on their application. Make sure you’re taking all safety measures before using the drain cleaner, which includes wearing eye goggles, protective gloves, and a face mask if necessary.
Next, make sure to follow the instructions of use described in your product. While there might be some specific rules for certain drain cleaners, most chemical drainers follow the same rules when it comes to the instructions of use.
When using liquid-form drain cleaners, follow these steps:
- Open the bottle gently without squeezing, splashing, or shaking the bottle.
- Pour the right amount of dose described in the instructions.
- Leave the liquid in the pipe up to 30 minutes until the clog dissipates.
- Pour plenty of hot water inside the pipe.
As for solid-form drain cleaners, do the following steps:
- Make sure your pipe is clear of any standing water.
- Pour 1 to 3 tablespoons of the powder or crystal down the clogged pipe.
- Pour 1 cup of cold water into the pipe.
- Give the drain cleaner up to 30 minutes to work.
- Finally, pour plenty of cold water inside the pipe to flush it.
Chemical drain cleaners can be quite dangerous to use, but they can also be the most effective in clearing the right kind of clogs. Before choosing a chemical drain cleaner, make sure to look up all of your options. If using one is your best shot, make sure you’re fully aware of its proper use so you don’t cause any unintentional damage. After reading all of the precautions and taking the appropriate safety measures, follow the instructions of use carefully.