Updated: April 2024

Have you ever wondered about the science behind your quick plumbing solutions? Any good plumber has, and Bacon Plumbing Heating Air Electric wants to keep you in the know about what your plumbing experiences with liquid drain cleaners and set straight the truth about their mysterious abilities.

Drain Cleaning Chemistry

Don’t worry, we won’t bog you down too much with the chemical reactions produced by drain cleaners, but it is still useful to know what the main types of drain cleaners are and why they are used.

  • Caustic Cleaners: Most drain cleaners you’ll find at the store are caustic cleaners. The chemicals in these cleaners, such as sodium hydroxide, break up the organic matter in the clog. It helps that caustic cleaners are heavier than what, which means they can move through liquids to get to deep clogs.
  • Oxidizing Cleaners: Similar to caustic cleaners, oxidizing drain cleaners use chemicals like household bleach to oxidize organic matter in clogs. These liquids are also heavier than water and can move through entire clogs.
  • Acid Cleaners: This category of drain cleaners should only be handled by professionals since they contain sulfuric acid, a chemical that can burn skin. The reaction with the clog results in heat, and if used incorrectly, acid cleaners can cause hydrogen gas and damage your lungs, eyes, and throat.

Clogs build up over time because of a substance called biofilm. A liquid drain cleaner needs the help of strong chemicals to clear the organic matter. While they can be helpful, drain cleaners pose serious risks to your plumbing and your health.

When to Use Liquid Drain Cleaner

If your home was built before the 1970s, your plumbing will likely have either copper or steel pipes. You can call Bacon to know for sure, but if there’s any concern, you should not be putting liquid drain cleaner down your pipes. The chemicals in the cleaners are so strong that they can corrode metal. Nobody wants to deal with a leak on top of a clogged drain.

Luckily, homes built in the past couple of decades mainly use PVC or PEX piping. There are other risks, however, that may occur if drain cleaners are not used properly. The following are such dangers than can result from improper use:

  • Damage clothing
  • If swallowed, can cause severe illness
  • Cause systems to explode
  • Destroy helpful bacteria in septic tanks
  • Damage kitchen and bathroom fixtures

Drain cleaners should not be used when you have a large clog in which no water can flow through it. Even for small clogs, homeowners need to follow the directions for liquid drain cleaners precisely so they don’t damage their plumbing, which is unfortunately very common. A drain snake is still the safest way to unclog your drains, but typically isn’t strong enough for most drain clogs.

When in doubt, a plumber should be your first call. Bacon plumbers make quick work of clogs and can take care of yours easily! Just give our team a call for fast, professional plumbing services.

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