In case you haven’t heard of them, drain cleaners often refer to chemical cleaners used to clear blockages in pipes. The typical over-the-counter drain cleaner comes in liquid or gel form and works by quickly dissolving soap scum, food deposits, hair, and more. Drano, Liquid-Plumr, and countless other popular brands offer drain cleaning products that can not only clear your drain, but leave a fresh lemony scent afterwards. But with all the glitz and glam, some homeowners are still asking the question, “Does drain cleaner damage pipes?”

We’ve all heard the rumors about these “miracle” cleaners doing more harm than good; but are they true? Let’s look into the effectiveness of drain cleaners and if they do in fact damage pipes.

Do Drain Cleaners Work?

Failing to remove clogs in drains can cause leaks in bathrooms, kitchens, utility sinks, showers, and tubs. In my experience, a good ole’ fashion plunger or snake almost always gets the job done. This seems to be the case for most professional plumbers offering drain cleaning services. But homeowners still flock to chemical drain cleaners as a simple solution for clogs. Are they being ripped off?

There is some debate over the effectiveness of drain cleaners. A 2006 Consumer Report concluded that Crystal drain cleaners like Roebic Crystal Drain Opener are the strongest of all store bought chemical varieties. Liquid, gel, and foam drain cleaners tested less effective than crystals, but none the less were successful in clearing small-medium clogs.

As far as specific brands were concerned, Drain Out Crystal Clog Remover, a crystal drain cleaner, was the most effective chemical cleaner. When only considering the liquid/gel/foam classification, the popular name brand Liquid-Plumr took the top spot.

Image of Drano provided by Flickr

So… Does Drain Cleaner Damage Pipes?

depending on the type of drain cleaner, there is insurmountable evidence pointing to drain cleaners damaging pipes and septic systems. The same 2006 Consumer Report states that liquid drain cleaners…

Can damage septic systems and discolor surfaces.
It also informs us that crystal drain cleaners…
Generate heat and can produce caustic gas, especially in the presence of aluminum. Can damage garbage disposers and septic systems and discolor surfaces.
Here are a few more issues I’ve encountered when dealing with store-bought liquid and crystal drain cleaners:
  • Improperly used chemical crystals forming rock-solid clogs in drains requiring significant repair.
  • Liquid drain cleaners pushing clogs further down causing catastrophic clogs over time.
  • Corrosion in pipes due to the reaction of chemical cleaners.
I think we can agree that chemical drain cleaners come with some serious side effects. But now that you know the truth about these pipe-bursting products, it’s time to “de-clog” the years of built up stigma surrounding effective non-chemical drain cleaners!

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What’s The Best Way to De-Clog My Drains?

There are a few simple and safe methods for clearing up a tough clog.

1. Plunger – The right plunger with some solid force can dislodge most obstructions. Remember, plungers aren’t only for the toilet! A plunger can be used to unclog any drain in the house.

2. Snake – An inexpensive snake can usually make short work of any standard clog. This long-shafted springy device is the favorite tool of plumbers and handy homeowners alike. If clogs are a regular issue in your household, I recommend shelling out for a drain auger.

3. Biological Drain Cleaner – Many plumbers recommend a biological drain cleaner for consumer use. They are great at eating away at clogs containing hair, which is a common occurrence in American bathrooms. While not as effective as liquid chemical drain cleaners, biological drain cleaners that employ enzymes are safer for your family, the environment, your pipes and septic system.

If you’re concerned about a bad clog, or you think you may have damaged your home’s plumbing using a chemical cleaner, your health and hard-earned cash could quite literately be circling the drain. It’s time to call a plumber for help. Get in touch with Premier Plumbing of Michigan today!


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