$150 Million Down the Drain. What You Need to Know about Chemical Drain Cleaners

July 07, 2014

$150 Million Down the Drain What You Need to Know about Chemical Drain Cleaners. We understand the appeal of doing it yourself for home repair projects, especially when you stand to save yourself money or when bragging rights are involved.  Unfortunately, many take this approach far too often when plumbing problems arise, and reach for chemical drain cleaners without considering the dangers of making a mistake.  Consumer Reports will not recommend the use of chemical drain cleaners at anytime, and advises calling a professional instead.  Not only are chemical drain cleaners some of the most hazardous household chemicals on the market; they are largely ineffective as well.  Consumer Reports agrees, “…about $150 million is spent a year on drain cleaners alone.  And much of that money goes right down the drain.” Not All Drain Cleaners are Created Equally Some drain cleaners are more harmful than others.  Practice extreme caution when using any chemical, but especially when working with crystals to clear the clog.  When exposed to aluminum, commonly found in older sink trim, crystals can produce a toxic cloud of lye gas.  There are three main kinds of chemical drain cleaners, here are a few other things to keep in mind should you choose to use any. Caustic drain cleaners contain caustic potash or lye, and they create heat, softening tough clogs and making it easier for them to dissolve.  They are heavier than water so they are able to power through it to reach the build-up. Oxidizing drain cleaners often contain household bleach, peroxides or nitrates that force the organic material in a clog to oxidize.  They are also heavier than water and release heat and gas to clear the clog. Acidic drain cleaners are not readily available in stores and can be so dangerous they are often only sold to licensed plumbers.  They contain high concentrations of sulfuric acid and react chemically with the clog, creating heat and gas to clear it. We hope you will take the very real dangers of using chemical drain cleaners into consideration and call a professional plumber instead.  If you should accidentally ingest, inhale, or spill any chemical or poison you can call the nationwide poison control hotline at 800.222.1222. Got a Pain in the Drain?  Call A.J. Perri first.

Last Updated: June 16, 2023