chemical drain cleanersWhat’s the first thing you do when your pipes are clogged? Reach for the chemical drain cleaners? Maybe you like the quick results you get. But using chemicals in your drains is a really bad idea. So read on, and we’ll tell you why DIY drain cleaning in general can have disastrous results.

What Drain Cleaners Do to Your Pipe

Drain cleaners are caustic chemicals. Although they can get rid of clogs, over time they will damage your pipes, especially if they are old. Older metal and plastic pipes are particularly vulnerable to warping.

There are three basic types of drain cleaners:

  • Acid — sulfuric and muriatic acid cleaners
  • Oxidizing — bleach, peroxides, nitrates
  • Caustic — caustic potash and lye

These chemicals produce heat by means of electron transfer. The heat breaks down the clog so that it can be flushed away.

But even when clogs caused by fats and oils dissipate, they can just move down the line and clog up your pipes again.

Harmful Substances

Exposure to drain cleaners can be harmful to humans and animals. You should never touch or breathe these powerful chemicals,.


It’s always better to try alternatives to drain cleaners first. You might try plunging or using baking soda and vinegar, or even Dawn detergent and hot water, but if the clog is significant, you’ll likely need professional help.

A plumber has access to the tools that will work best to unclog your drain. Plus, the plumber has the expertise that’s needed to solve the problem.

For instance, some homeowners may try to loosen a clog with a drain snake, but sometimes, clogs are just too tough. You may have some problem that isn’t apparent, such as damaged, collapsing pipes, tree roots, or a serious clog way down the line. A plumber can use a camera to determine what’s going on with your pipes so that the best remedy for the clog can be applied.

Be aware that drains that clog repeatedly may need to be replaced.

For more on chemical drain cleaners, contact Mowery Heating, Cooling and Plumbing of Indianapolis.