Putting up with a slow or clogged drain can be a pain. Some homeowners will look to quickly flush out the clog with a chemical drain cleaner, but may not be aware of how these drain cleaners work. In fact, chemical drain cleaners might end up causing more harm than good.

To better understand how drain cleaners work, know a few things about what they are made from. These chemical drain cleaners are typically composed of lye, caustic potash, and bleach. 

Many homeowners should already know how bleach is used, but it’s the other two that may be unfamiliar. Lye, also known as sodium hydroxide, is used to remove the most stubborn buildups by targeting and breaking the chemical bonds that keep them together. Caustic potash will quicken the decomposition of soft tissues and organic matter that can be found in drains. 

The chemical reactions can be an effective way to clear out a drain, but those same chemical reactions will affect your plumbing in other ways. Chemical drain cleaners are strong enough to cut through even the worst clogs, but that extra strength can also damage the very pipes they clear. Regularly relying on chemical drain cleaners can quickly lead to corrosion.

Strong acids that are found in chemical drain cleaners are there to move through the pipes and not to be used on the fixtures themselves. When these chemicals get onto sinks or bathtubs, they can destroy the enamel-based finishes, or can even dissolve certain types of metal.

Once those chemicals make their way through your plumbing, they will end up where all the other water ends up, making their way into water sources and ground areas. Negative impact on the environment can come from the presence of these chemicals, even if there is a little left in the container when you throw it out, as it may end up in a landfill.

The biggest concern from these chemical drain cleaners is the impact that it could have on your health. Many solutions create unhealthy fumes that can irritate or even be poisonous. Ignoring the warning label or not following the directions can lead to improper use and possible harm to your or a family member.

Fortunately, there are alternatives to using harsh chemicals that can be just as effective in clearing your drains. For instance, a simple solution of hot water and dish soap can liquify the clog. Or you can go the way of a science fair experiment, combining baking soda and vinegar to flush out the problem.

Chemical drain cleaners can be a quick and easy way to remove a clog, but they may not always be the safest method. For more information on clearing tough clogs, call Kellermeier Plumbing at 616-866-5134. At Kellermeier Plumbing, we pride ourselves on being honest and upfront with our customers and strive to provide our clients with the highest level of service.