What are the Pros and Cons of Chemical Drain Cleaning?

What are the Pros and Cons of Chemical Drain Cleaning?

Most people, at some point in their lives, will encounter a problem with blocked drains. There are a number of different ways to deal with the problem, but for most people chemical drain cleaning is usually their go to method. This is because chemical cleaning is as simple as following the instructions on the packaging and it is a cheap solution. This makes this method very popular, but it is not always the best solution to the problem. There are many pros and cons to consider before deciding to use a chemical drain cleaning product.

The Pros

Chemical drain cleaning products use compounds that are caustic, acidic or oxidizing. When they are introduced into the drain, they chemically interact with the blockage or clog. Heat is released which then dissolves the clog. This is followed by gas which pushes the now weakened clog down the pipe. Most cleaners of this kind can clear a clog within 15 minutes with just a single application. If the clog is persistent, a second use will usually clear the problem. No professional help is required, making this method cheap and convenient.

The Cons

All chemical drain cleaning products can potentially damage your pipes and plumbing fittings. This can be exacerbated by repeated use in the case of a stubborn clog or blockage. Additionally, chemical drain cleaners are not suitable for every type of blockage. As an example: a clog in your toilet will not be reachable beyond the bowl siphon, as chemical drain cleaners are actually heavier than water, and they would sink to the bottom of the bowl. Chemical drain cleaners are very dangerous if used incorrectly. If they come into contact with bare skin or eyes, medical attention should be sought immediately. They also have noxious fumes that are quite dangerous, especially in confined spaces that don’t have adequate ventilation. Finally, these products are hazardous chemicals, if you have any leaks in your sewer pipes they could end up polluting your soil and groundwater.

The Alternative

As you can see, there are quite a few pros and cons to using a chemical drain cleaner. They may be fine for occasional use, but if there is a persistent underlying problem or a cleaning job that they are unsuitable for, it may be time to call on the services of a professional. A professional drain cleaning service will have access to diagnostic and cleaning tools that a layman would not. They can employ cameras to check blocked pipes providing a better picture of the best method for removal. They can use plumbing augurs or a high-pressure hydro jet cleaner, to physically remove the blockage without resorting to caustic chemicals. A professional will also have a wealth of knowledge about the common causes of plumbing blockages. It may be the case that there is an underlying cause that needs to be dealt with, rather than repeatedly dealing with the symptoms. Most services of this nature also have a call out service for emergencies, and they will ensure that your problem is fixed quickly.

By Giovanni Longo President Flood Brothers Plumbing

Giovanni Longo is a 3rd generation master plumber who has been practicing his craft and trade in the greater Los Angeles area for well over a decade and a half.  A plumbing and hydraulics-engineering innovator, Giovanni’s particular world-class expertise focuses on dealing with challenging sewer system designs as well as resolving complex commercial and residential draining issues. As a certified Flood Mitigation expert, he is also well versed in a wide variety of water damage and remediation solutions.