We’ve all dealt with it. A clogged drain when we are trying to shower, brush our teeth, or use the kitchen sink. Our first inclination is to grab a chemical laden drain cleaner to offer a quick fix. Our top priority is to get that drained cleared and the water flowing PRONTO! But are toxic liquid drain cleaners really the best option?
How do drain cleaners work?
Sitting on the shelves of grocery stores and big box stores, liquid drain cleaners seem like a bargain and a quick solution when a drain in your bathroom, kitchen, or laundry room plumbing backs up. But not so fast!
Household chemical drain cleaners clear the drain by dissolving the clog using caustic or oxidizing chemicals. These chemicals either give or take away electrons to the stuff blocking your drain, creating a reaction that breaks down and loosens the clog. But unfortunately, there is a price.
Disadvantages of using chemical drain cleaners
The toxicity levels in off brand, inexpensive drain cleaners are particular high. The fumes are extremely unhealthy to inhale and will sting and irritate your nose and eyes. These fumes hang around wherever the chemical was used, long after it goes down the drain.
The hydrochloric acid and other acidic ingredients in these cleaners can “eat away” at your pipes as it sits in your drain. In fact, older pipes are more susceptible to this kind of erosion. Even if you think your safe with copper pipes, think again! Liquid drain cleaner can damage any pipe material overtime.
The chemical reaction that takes place in your PVC pipes can soften the material and create a breakdown over time. This reaction can also cause corrosion in older pipes. The problem gets worse when the drain cleaner doesn’t work. You now have chemicals sitting in your pipes leaving them even more prone to damage. After this, every new attempt to clear the clog can cause you to accidentally burn your skin. Remember, this stuff’s purpose is to instantly eat away at whatever it comes in contact with.
Here’s something else to consider … Chemical drain cleaners are just plain bad for the environment. The residues left in the bottles ultimately end up in our landfill and create toxicity in the earth. In addition, these chemicals make their way into our groundwater poisoning fish, wildlife, and can further pollute our waterways. So not only can these products ruin our drain pipes and fail to fix the problem at hand; they also damage the beautiful world we live in- um… I think I’ll pass!
Natural Solutions For Your Clogged Drain
Baking soda and vinegar
The most commonly used natural method of clearing a clogged drain is to use one cup of baking soda and one cup of vinegar. Let this sit for a bit as the foaming action works away at the clog. Follow this by running plenty of hot down the drain. Do this on a regular basis as a preventative measure as well!
Lemon juice and vinegar
You could also use lemon juice and baking soda in the same manner. Lemon juice provides the same reaction when paired with baking soda but smells a lot nicer. This would be a great combo to use in the kitchen. Remember to run plenty of hot water down the drain after use.
Many clogs develop due to various types of fats and oils that can solidify and create a blockage in your drain. Sometimes, the answer is to just pour a kettle of boiling water down the drain. You can use boiling water with the above combinations as well. Just be sure to pour directly into the drain to avoid damaging plastics or cracking porcelain.
Use a plunger
There is also the use of a good old fashioned plunger for unclogging drains. Using a plunger in the proper way as well as one that is a good fit is key. For safer and quicker unclogging methods, check out how to pick the perfect plunger and how to use it properly.
Dealing with a clogged drain is an annoyance none of us want to have to deal with. Our knee jerk reaction is often to grab a caustic chemical drain opener. The choices that we make can have a profound impact on our plumbing, our health, and most of all, the environment. Take a few moments to consider a better alternative that will be safer. When none of these methods work, it might be time to utilize a snake to open the drain or call your local plumbing service. Your Philbrick Family is always here to help!