One of the most recognizable plumbing failures is a clogged drain! For most Kansas City homeowners, this can easily happen at least a handful of times each year. While you know grease can’t be poured the drain, somehow it finds it way down there one way or another! A clogged drain can certainly be an annoying situation and leave you frustrated as a plumbing fixture is out of commission. For most, you’re left with only a few options on how to proceed: (1) You can just leave it there and never use it. Probably not the best idea, unless you have sinks or toilets galore available to use. (2) You can use a chemical drain cleaner. While you’d think that a “chemical drain cleaner” would do the trick, that isn’t always the case. (3) You can call up your friends at Stine-Nichols Plumbing and we’ll have someone out there right away. We’ll figure out what’s clogging it up and get it cleared in no time. This is definitely our favorite option! 😉
This week, we wanted to sit down and reveal why those drain cleaners are the best plan of attack. More often than, you’ll notice these drain cleaners doing far more harm to your plumbing than good. We’ll also give you some tips on what you can use instead. Depending on the magnitude of the clogging substance, these alternatives can occasionally get the job done! So, with that said, why are chemical drain cleaners bad for your plumbing…
👉 Damaging to Your Pipes
Chemical drain cleaners come in many different forms. There are liquid, powder, gel and plenty other types of cleaners. However, they all are created to solve one goal. That is to essentially “liquify” the clogged substance, so it’s able to slide down the rest of the pipe. Honestly, on the surface, this sounds like the perfect solution. For the most part, it will complete this task and clear the clog, thus leaving a homeowner feeling like they’ve just passed their first plumbing test!
The damage though is one that builds up over time before you truly become aware of it! Your plumbing system’s pipes are what’s taking the bulk of the damage. The chemicals that you poured down the drain will reach the clog and create a chemical reaction. In doing so, heat is generated. This heat is easily strong enough to liquify the clogged substance, but when you realize most of the pipes are made out of plastic or older metal, do you see the cause for concern? While you may not see any ill-effects right then, you best believe that they will arise in the future! The pipes will break down, leaving you with a huge mess!
👉 Can Be Harmful to the Homeowner
It’s one thing to have your plumbing pipes negatively affected when trying to make some repairs, but the last thing you want to do is create some health concerns in the process. In the above section, we mentioned how these cleaners generate heat to liquify the clogged substances. With the majority of cleaners out there today, this is usually a decent amount of heat to do it’s job. In any case, you want to make sure to not come in contact with the cleaner. It can cause severe burns, so make sure to be cautious with using it! A second health hazard is the fumes created by these cleaners. They can potentially be poisonous and nonetheless, can cause health concerns to whoever’s using it! In the end, just make sure you read the instructions and any labels. Trust us, this little extra time of preparation is more than worth it!
👉 What All is Clogged?
This next point is an instance where you want to do your research and due diligence before using the drain cleaner. If nothing else, you don’t want to use a drain cleaner if it’s not a clogged drain that’s the problem! For those that’ve been following along with our blog, we did a piece a couple of weeks ago on sewer line clogs. These can potentially one of the most costly plumbing repairs that homeowners face. Particularly in any older Kansas City neighborhoods, we run into more than a handful each and every year.
One of the most common warning signs of a sewer line malfunction is multiple drains/fixtures getting clogged up at one time. Unless you have some serious bad luck, you don’t usually see everything clogged up at one time! With this said, before you go pouring a drain cleaner (which we don’t recommend using anyways!), take a quick look around the house. Is this the only drain that’s clogged up? If not, you very well may be looking at a bigger problem. In that case, don’t even run the risk of potentially damaging your pipes. Sewer line clogs are, without a doubt, never a DIY project. Get an expert plumber out there to figure out the best plan of attack!
👉 Damaging to Your Fixtures
Alright, so we’ve already talked about how these cleaners can be bad for your pipes and potentially even you, the homeowner! Next on our list is your fixtures. Whether that be your sink, bathtub or any other household fixture, you definitely don’t want to harm the nice finished look of these elements. Well, with those strong acids in chemical drain cleaners, that can corrode the pipes or severely burn your skin, they can also tear apart the enamel-based finish of these fixtures. Even though you may try your best to pour it right down the pipes, sometimes a little bit spills out.
👉 Environmental Concerns
Those gases emitted that we mentioned above can also pose an environmental concern. For one, anyone in the house can breathe them in and suffer from negative side effects. However, it’s when these get into the water supply that the concerns intensify. After you pour the cleaner down your drain, it actually goes to your septic tank. After that, it can be filtered and released into the ground water, causing a major environmental problem!
What Alternatives Are There?
Aside from calling out an experienced plumber, there are still some home remedies that you can try out first. These certainly aren’t guaranteed solutions, but the risk level is much lower than with using the chemical drain cleaners. The first option we’d recommend would be Vinegar and Baking Soda. The vinegar provides the acidic part of the formula and the baking soda brings the cleansing. You’ll want to mix these two together and pour it down the drain. After 6-8 hours (where the mixture will fizz up), run some hot water through the drain. If that doesn’t clear it, chances are you’re dealing with a much bigger clog. Our second home remedy is Hot Water and Dish Soap. Mix 3 tablespoons of dish soap with some hot water and slowly pour it down the drain. The heat will attempt to replicate that of the chemical cleaners (although in a reduced, safer state) to liquify the clogged substance.
Get It Un-Clogged the Right Way!
We’re not just saying this to promote our services, but your best approach to clearing a clogged drain is to call in an experienced Kansas City plumber. Harsh drain cleaners may very well seem like the perfect solution, but as you can see here, there are negative effects typically outweigh the positives. They might not only cause harm to your pipes or your fixtures, but also you! With today’s advanced plumbing technology, we’re able to pin-point exact locations of clogs and get them cleared up in no-time. Give us a call at 816-348-3481 for all of your plumbing needs!