If you have a blocked drain, then your first reaction may be to buy a chemical cleaning product. The chemicals in these cleaners can work on some blockages and break them down so that the drain clears.
However, the chemicals in these cleaners may come with problems of their own. What are they?
Chemical Drain Cleaners and Pipes
In order to unblock a drain, a chemical cleaner needs to be pretty powerful. Its mix of chemicals needs to be strong enough to break up or dissolve a blockage. While these cleaners work well on some blocked drains, they may also impact your plumbing system as a whole. For example, they may have an adverse effect on the pipes you pour them down.
This isn't so much of an issue if you use a drain unblocking product once and your pipes are in good condition. However, repeated use of chemical products may damage some pipes.
For example, these products often use chemical reactions to create heat to clear a blockage. If you have PVC pipes and the cleaner has enough contact with the sides of a pipe, then the pipe may start to heat up, go soft and even melt. This can be a problem if your drain is fully blocked and the chemicals sit in the pipe for long periods.
Chemical drain cleaners can also sometimes affect metal pipes. Generally, this is most likely to happen if the pipes are old and have some corrosion inside them. The chemicals may hit weak spots and damage the pipe.
Chemical Drain Cleaners and Your Health
While chemical drain cleaners are generally safe to use as long as you follow their instructions carefully, they can still pose problems. For example, if your drain is completely blocked, then pouring a liquid cleaner on top of water won't hit the blockage.
However, the cleaner may start to react on top of the water. It may release noxious fumes that spread into the room and affect you.
Plus, while it may be tempting to use a couple of different drain cleaners to try to get some extra power going on stubborn blockages, this could be downright dangerous. If the wrong chemicals come into contact with each other, they could become an irritant or even create dangerous fumes.
To protect your pipes and your health, call out your plumber. They can unblock your drain without causing any more damage.