Chemical Drain Cleaners


Many homeowners think that a chemical drain cleaner is the way to fix stubborn clogs. However, a responsible homeowner should know what they are pouring down there pipes. Some cleaners are so dangerous that only licensed plumbers can get their hands on them. There are 3 types of chemical drain cleaner:

  • Acidic
  • Caustic
  • Oxidizing

What is an Acidic C leaner?

Acidic cleaners are acid based. They are very dangerous and hard for the general public to find. These cleaners have a sulphuric or hydrochloric acid base. The cleaner causes a chemical reaction which heats up the pipes and the blockage. Then the clog is melted. Homeowners that use this type of cleaner should prepare for the worst. Wear googles and protective gloves to keep your skin from burning. If any of the cleaner touches your skin wash it off immediately!

What is a Caustic Cleaner?

Caustic cleaners often have a lye base. Lye is an old cleaner that dates back to the old world. This powerful cleaner needs hot water to be effective. One of the downsides of caustic cleaners is they take a while to clear the drain. As with an acidic cleaner make sure to wear goggles and glove. Exposure to lye can lead to terrible burns.

What is an Oxidizing Cleaner?

Things like bleach and peroxide are oxidizing cleaners. These cleaners will break a clog up with its oxidizing properties. The pipes will heat up and gas will be released to break the clog apart.

What to Consider

The Pros:

  • Any homeowner can use these cleaners with the right precautions.
  • Cheaper than a plumber in most cases

The Cons:

  • Exposure to skin and eyes is dangerous
  • If not used properly pipes can be damaged. PVC can melt, and older metal pipes can rust.
  • Cleaner can leave a film that builds up in time.
  • Not for use with a garbage disposal.
  • Chemical cleaners don’t work on completely blocked drains.
  • Not for sewer line clogs.

Chemical cleaners are an easy fix to small drain issues, but in the long run the prolonged use can lead to a bigger problem. Make sure you follow all directions and are educated about what you are putting down your drain.