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Are Commercial Drain Cleaners Safe?

A bottle of drain cleaner solution near a sink pipe
Blocked drains are considered as a common plumbing issue in both residential and industrial structures. While such problems can be avoided with proper and regular plumbing maintenance, many homeowners and businessmen still face this dilemma which they usually try to solve using commercial drain cleaners.
However, most expert drainage plumbers don’t recommend the use of such chemicals too often as they can be more detrimental than helpful to the plumbing system.
To understand why this is the case, you must know the different types of cleaners, how they work, and their overall effects on a plumbing system.

Woman wearing rubber gloves under a sink calling a drainage plumber

3 Types of Commercial Drain Cleaners and How They Work

Drain cleaners available in the market today come in three forms: liquid, gel and powder. These products contain various chemicals that serve as active ingredients which initiate movement in electrons and produce heat so they can de-clog backed up drains.
These commercial cleaners are classified into three main types:

1. Caustic Cleaners

This type of drain cleaning product is considered a base that acts by adding electrons to the substance that causes the blockage. It then initiates a reaction that turns solidified grease into a soapy substance, so it can be dissolved easily by opening the tap.
It has caustic potash and lye contents which makes it sink in water— allowing a de-clogging action even with standing water along the pipes.

2. Oxidizing Cleaners

Oxidizing cleaners are more commonly used to deal with organic substances that block your drain. They cause oxidation and, like caustic cleaners, are heavier than water to allow a more thorough clearing action.
These products contain peroxides, nitrates and household bleach. They also release gas and heat to remove materials that block the waterways.

3. Acid-Based Cleaners

This type of commercial cleaners doesn’t usually come in your average grocery stores, but if you ever come across them—don’t buy them. These chemicals are typically available only to plumbers since they have high levels hydrochloric or sulphuric acids and should be used with extreme caution.
To clear obstructions in the pipes, these chemicals increase hydronium ions to initiate a chemical reaction that increases heat. The high temperature then melts congealed grease and other substances causing the blockage.

5 Reasons Why You Should Avoid Drain Cleaners

The use of commercial drain cleaners should never be your first choice for blocked drains because of the following reasons:

1. They Can Damage the Pipes

This is probably the biggest issue you should consider before trying any commercial cleaners on your drain. Most chemical cleaners act to dissolve materials that are stuck within your pipes. To achieve this, they are made to produce or increase heat within the pipes to melt obstructions causing the problem.
However, this action also leads to long-term issues for your plumbing system. Since heat is involved, there is a good chance that pipes manufactured from polyvinyl chloride (PVC) will get damaged. If you think you’ve dodged this bullet since your pipes are made of metal, you’re very wrong. Older metal pipes are more prone to damage when exposed to such chemicals.

2. They are Toxic to Humans

Handling commercial drain cleaners can also be detrimental to your health. They can cause severe burns if they come into contact with the skin or eyes, not to mention they can also burn through clothing. They are highly toxic if swallowed and the fumes they produce also cause difficulty in breathing and serious respiratory conditions.

3. They Don’t Work for All Drain Issues

What if the solution you were counting on don’t work? This is the exact scenario for commercial drain cleaners. They won’t work if the reason for your backed-up drain isn’t what they were made for.
Sometimes, drains are blocked because of issues in the pipes or sewer line. In this scenario, you’re better off using a plunger if your drain stops functioning as it should.

4. They Can Cause Septic System Issues

Septic systems require good bacteria to function properly. Commercial drain cleaners kill all living organisms they come in contact. This includes those exact same ones that help keep your septic tank working, so do your septic system a favour by avoiding these products.

5. They Can Damage Bathroom and Kitchen Fixtures

If you often use chemical drain cleaners in your bathroom or kitchen, there’s a good chance that you will spend more money on repairs than you would in hiring professional plumbers. This is because these products can corrode tiles, stainless sinks, and other fixtures.

A Final Word

When dealing with a blocked drain, doing it yourself with the help of chemical cleaners won’t necessarily save you money— it may even cause you to spend more than you should down the line.
To ensure that your home and place of business are safe from the costly consequences of plumbing issues, contact licensed professionals offering emergency plumbing services right away.
Need help with a plumbing problem? Contact us at Blue Diamond Plumbing for fast and reliable professional plumbing solutions.