How to Use a Chemical Drain Cleaner

Chemical Drain Cleaners are easily accessible plumbing solutions that plumbers and homeowners around the world widely use to unclog severe clogs and blockages in their drain pipes. While it might seem easy to use these chemical cleaners to unclog your drain, there are several precautionary steps that you need to take if you decide to handle these corrosive chemicals yourself as they can cause severe burns and damages if they come in contact with human skin. This is why it is recommended that you follow proper instructions and safety measures while handling these volatile chemicals. As chemical drain cleaner contains chemical substances that may harm our eyes and skin as well as old drain pipes due to its chemical reaction, it is better to use alternatives that are harmless and easily available as far as possible. 

Chemical drain cleaners can be used in bathtub drains, garbage disposals, sink drains and other household drains to remove severe blockages. These chemical drain cleaners come in solid, liquid, and gel form and can contain strong acids, strong bases, or oxidizers that travel down the drain to the root of the clog’s cause and break it down to unclog a drain.

When to use Chemical Drain Cleaner 

Chemical Drain Cleaners are used to clear up severe clogs in the drain pipes. While minor clogs break or go away with natural or DIY methods with materials available in the kitchen like baking soda and vinegar, serious clogs require serious action. Chemical drain cleaners are highly efficient in clearing up clogs by breaking down the organic and inorganic matter that’s accumulated and blocking the flow of water in your drain pipes at a molecular level. Chemical drain cleaners are available in different types on the basis of the nature of the clog.

  1. Caustic Drain Cleaner: Caustic drain cleaner is made of sodium hydroxide (NaOH) also known as caustic soda or lye. The strong alkaline bases present in caustic drain cleaners are effective against organic matter that requires breaking down. Caustic drain cleaners start a chemical reaction as they come into contact with water and help disintegrate fat, oil and grease at a molecular level, creating soap and water as a by-product, which is then easily washed away with a flush
  2. Oxidizing Drain Cleaner: Oxidizing drain cleaner contains substances like bleach, peroxides, and nitrates which cause the organic materials of the clog to lose electrons and become oxidized which helps clogs dissolve easily. Oxidation is a process where a molecule loses electrons and becomes unstable, leading to its collapse at a molecular level. Oxidizing drain cleaners are strong and effective against organic and inorganic matter alike. 
  3. Acidic Drain Cleaner: Acidic drain cleaner is made of strong acids like sulfuric acid or hydrochloric acid which creates a chemical reaction in the drain pipes that generates heat and dissolves the material causing the clog. These corrosive chemicals are very strong and can easily dissolve organic matter like hair and food debris as well as foreign materials lodged in drains like plastic and paper. 

We should identify the nature of clogs and use the suitable drain cleaner accordingly. A manual guide is provided with all drain cleaners which should be read carefully before using it.

Understanding Drain Cleaner Guidelines 

How to Use a Chemical Drain Cleaner

Chemical Drain Cleaners have several guidelines that must be followed before use to avoid any mishaps. While caustic and acidic drain cleaners are very effective in clearing up clogs, they are not always the best way to deal with clogs. For instance, if your house is connected to a septic tank instead of a sewer line, the use of a chemical drain cleaner could bring adverse effects. 

Drain cleaners are not recommended in houses with a septic system, as they can kill the bacteria inside the tank that helps break down waste. Septic Tanks are natural decomposition pits and are full of bacteria that break down waste and convert it to water before pushing it out. Alkaline drain cleaners especially are harsh on these microorganisms that could eventually obstruct the functioning of your septic tank leading to a bigger problem. Only drain cleaners that are safe for the septic system should be used in houses with septic systems. 

Precautions While Using Chemical Drain Cleaners

When we use chemical drain cleaners, we should follow the instructions that help to remove the blockages inside the pipe as soon as possible and protect us from hazards that may cause physical damage. Before using the chemical drain cleaner, we should act in accordance with safety precautions like covering our eyes with goggles, hands with rubber gloves, and nose and mouth with a mask and we should wear a full dress to cover our whole body skin. Adding chemical drain cleaner to drains that contain other kinds of chemical cleaners should be avoided as mixing this kind of cleaner with drain cleaner may damage the drain pipe. 

Chemical Drain Cleaners should be poured slowly and steadily into the clogged drains to avoid any spillage while also allowing the chemical reaction to start taking place in a controlled way. If poured haphazardly, chemical drain cleaners will start reacting with water and produce toxic fumes of hydrogen gas that can cause irritation of eyes and skin or respiratory illness. Chemical Drain Cleaners should be poured in at a specific amount according to the instructions provided with the cleaner. Usually, 1-3 tablespoons of the acidic or alkaline chemical at one time should be enough to start the de-clogging process. We should allow the chemical drain cleaner to sit inside the drain pipes for up to 30 minutes before we see any progress with the disintegration of the clog. 

Steps for Using Chemical Drain Cleaners

There are some easy steps that you need to follow to use most commercially available chemical drain cleaners. These chemical drain cleaners come with usage instructions right on the pack or the back of the bottle and one should read the instructions first to follow them to the point while using. Using safety precautions and equipment like goggles, masks, and gloves is always recommended. 

Here’s how you basically use different types of chemical drain cleaners: 

Using Liquid Drain Cleaners:

  1. Open the bottle while grasping the handle. Do not splash or squeeze.
  2. Pour the amount specified in the back of the bottle into the drain.
  3. Allow to sit and the reaction process to start for up to 30 minutes
  4. Flush with plenty of hot water to clear out the blockage and unclog the drain.

Using Powder/Crystal Drain Cleaners:

  1. Remove any standing water from the drain hole.
  2. Add 1-3 tablespoons of drain cleaning product into the drain.
  3. Add one cup of cold water to initiate the chemical reaction.
  4. Allow up to 30 minutes for the chemical to start working to break down the clog.
  5. Flush with cold water to clear out debris and unclog the drain.

Limitations of Drain Cleaners

Chemical Drain Cleaners are useful for removing minor to moderate clogs and blockages inside the drain pipes. Some caustic drain cleaners are not recommended for use with old metal pipes as they can cause corrosion. Blockage due to minor clogs can be easily dissolved using drain cleaners as the chemical substances in drain cleaners can easily break down such kinds of clogs with the chemical reaction but in case of serious clogs it sometimes may be difficult to break down and if a lot of the material is used it could have adverse effects on the plumbing itself. Listed here are some limitations of chemical drain cleaners that we should understand before using them: 

  1. The Chemicals in Drain Cleaners are Toxic and corrosive: Chemical substances contained in drain cleaners are harmful to our health. As a precaution, it is warned to keep chemical drain cleaners far away from children and pets. While opening and using the drain cleaner, the user must be careful not to spill it onto the floor or their own body. Chemical cleaners are also corrosive so if your house has old metal plumbings, it’s best if you stick to other methods of clearing clogs like baking soda and salt.
  2. They May Make The Blockage Worse: Drain cleaner is put into the drain pipe to remove the clogs inside it. If the response of the chemical reaction with the clog goes wrong, it could have adverse effects. If the material causing the clog is not organic food waste, oil, or grease, most chemical drain cleaners will have little to no effect, sometimes even making the situation worse. 
  3. Chemical Drain Cleaners Can Damage Your Plumbing: Chemical drain cleaners contain strong chemical components like sulfuric acid, hydrochloric acid, sodium hydroxide et cetera that help disintegrate objects causing clogs in drains. However, these corrosive chemicals can also damage your pipes and plumbing system if used in large quantities. Using chemical drain cleaners with old metal plumbing is also not recommended as they are not designed to handle alkaline and acidic chemicals. 
  4. They Are Bad For The Environment: The presence of strong chemicals like acids and bases makes chemical drain cleaners bad for the environment. When these chemicals travel down the sewer line into the rivers and seas, it could badly affect aquatic life. Leakage of these chemicals from pipes and drains can also harm nearby plants and animals which is not a good sign for the environment.

Alternatives to Using Drain Cleaners 

Various methods of unclogging drains do not involve chemicals. Using chemical drain cleaners should not be your primary choice as they are corrosive, toxic, and require steady hands to use. While dealing with clogs, it’s best if we try and use home remedies, natural ingredients, and DIY methods first to see if they can get the job done. 

  • Manual Removal – Manual Removal with the
  • Use of Everyday Items- Everyday items like wire hangers, small tongs, and vinegar, can be used in bathroom drains, kitchen sink drains, and toilets to pull out the clogs inside the drain pipes.
  • Use of Tools – The use of plumbing tools like a plunger and other professional tools like Drain Snake, and Auger can effectively address the clog.

These tools are pretty easy to use and often provide quick results in clearing up clogs in your Tongs and wire hangers shaped like a hook can be used to fish debris from drain holes to unclog them whereas plungers and drain snakes are your best friend in unclogging toilets in a few minutes.

Professional Drain Cleaning

Taking the help of Professional Drain Cleaning Services is one of the best alternatives as the professionals can understand the problem much better and we can get to the solution easily.

Among various Professional Drain Cleaning service providers, Roto-Rooter CA Plumbing and Water Cleanup Service is the number one plumbing and water restoration company in California. Roto-Rooter CA provides professional drain-cleaning services including repair services, plumbing services and restoration work to ensure your home’s plumbing system is fully functional and that everything flows smoothly. 

Roto-Rooter Plumbing & Water Cleanup has been the most trusted name in plumbing and professional drain cleaning services since 1935. We provide services like drain cleaning service, 24-hour emergency plumber service, Water leak repair, sewer line repair, and water damage restoration services in various parts of California. Emergency plumbing service is also available 24/7 with Roto-Rooter CA. With our licensed and insured brand and well-known reputation, we have been one of the most trusted and recommended plumbing services since 1935. Contact Roto-Rooter CA today to get better and more efficient drain cleaning and plumbing services.