When you find that you have a very slow clearing drain or a completely clogged drain in a sink, shower, or tub, it can be very tempting to try a DIY fix. Most consumers believe that spending $10 on a jug of drain cleaner will be more cost-effective and equally as successful as calling a professional plumber to remove the blockage. But the real truth is that not only is drain cleaner a less than reliable solution to most clogs, but the harsh chemicals in these products can also actually damage or destroy your drain pipes!
What Causes Drain Clogs
To know the best method for removing a clog from a drain line, you first need to understand what the clog is made of. In tubs, showers, and bathroom sink drains, clogs are most often formed when hair and other small particles that you wash from your body become stuck in the greasy film that coats the inside of the drain pipes. This sticky substance lining the pipes is the result of oil-based beauty and bathing products, as well as shampoos and conditioners. The more particles that get washed down the drain, the larger the blockage becomes.
In kitchen sink drains, the drain pipes are coated with many types of grease and oil from cooking. Each time you wash a pot or pan, more grease is passing through the drain pipes and adhering to the inner walls of the pipe. Then millions of tiny food particles begin to stick to the inside of the pipes. Food rinses down the sink as well as the remnants from garbage disposals easily become lodged in the pipes and create blockages that continue to capture more particles as they get larger.
How Chemical Drain Cleaners Work
Sadly, there is not a lot of truth in advertising when it comes to drain cleaners. All of them tout their ability to remove even the toughest hair and grime clogs. But to even attempt to do this, the drain cleaners are loaded with harsh chemicals that are designed to eat through a clog. However, when a drain is completely blocked, the chemicals only sit in the pipe, reaching a very small part of the clog. And while the caustic chemicals are working to eat away at the clog, they are also performing the same service to your drain pipes. So regardless of what the bottle says, never dump harsh drain cleaner down a completely clogged drain pipe.
Other Serious Concerns About Chemical Drain Cleaners
In addition to corroding and damaging your metal drain lines, these harsh chemical drain cleaners can also be causing damage to PVC pipes. The damage occurs when the chemicals remain in the pipes too long and begin to create heat from the reaction with the clog. And while PVC pipes can handle hot water from your tap, they are not designed to withstand the intense heat from chemical reactions for extended periods. The result will be weakened pipes and leaks in your future.
The last risk might even be the most alarming, as these chemicals pose a risk to your health and the health of your loved ones. These products contain many safe handling warnings if you can read the very fine print on the bottle. Most warn that the ingredients are caustic meaning that they will produce toxic fumes that can burn your eyes and throat as well as causing chemical burns to your lungs. Also, you should never let these chemicals come into contact with your skin, as they can cause mild to severe skin irritation and burns.
Why You Need A Professional Plumber For A Drain Clog
Most consumers have no idea how a professional plumber removes a drain clog. Many think that the plumber closes the door and secretly uses the same harsh chemical drain cleaners that are sold at the big box store. Then he or she sneaks back out the truck to hide the unmarked bottle of magic drain cleaner. But that is far from the process used by professionals to remove clogs from drain lines.
Professional plumbers have many tools at their disposal to remove even the toughest drain clogs. A plumbing snake is an auger-like tool that can be used to break up the clog without causing any damage to the drain pipes. This is normally the first choice and a very effective one. In addition, most plumbers will use a high-pressure water jet device like a Hydro Jet to break up and then wash away all types of drain clogs. Not only does this safely eliminate clogs, but it also helps to prevent future clogs as it cleans the sticky residue from the inside of the pipe walls.
Make The Smart Call
There is no question that a professional plumber is the smart choice when you have a slow clearing drain or one that is completely clogged. Not only will your plumber remove the clog safely, but he or she can also clean the drains to help prevent future clogs from forming. And you will never need to worry about noxious fumes in your home or damage to your drains from the harsh chemicals in over the counter drain cleaners.