Is It Time to Call a Plumber?

Keeping your drains and pipes clean and free of clogs is essential to maintaining a healthy plumbing system. Commercial drain cleaners can be an effective way to remove minor clogs, but they often come with their own set of risks and downsides. If you’re struggling with a serious clog or are concerned about the health and safety implications of using chemical drain cleaners, it may be time to call a plumber.

Chemical Drain Cleaners

Commercial drain cleaners, also known as openers, are pure or mixtures of chemicals that can unblock a clogged sewer pipe or wastewater drain. They usually dissolve some of the material causing the clog and then create an action that clears the rest of the blockage. These products are available in liquid, powder or gel form and can be purchased at most hardware stores. They are typically used with a mechanical tool, such as a plumber’s snake or drain auger, to remove stubborn blockages.

Caustic drain cleaners, such as lye or caustic potash, work by giving electrons to the clog substance to break it down. These chemical cleaners are extremely dangerous and require special gloves, safety glasses and a face mask for application. They can also cause severe burns if they contact skin, eyes or lungs.

Oxidizing drain cleaners work by turning the organic material in a clog into a soap-like substance that can be dissolved. They are heavier than water, so they can move through standing water and release heat to help melt grease and grime. These cleaners are safer than caustic drain cleaners, but they still require careful use and special precautions.

Enzyme-based drain cleaners are safe for most pipes and eliminate clogs caused by hair, food, paper, grease and soap scum. They are easy to use and leave behind a pleasant citrus scent. This product by Roebic is a great choice for those on a budget and has more than 9,300 positive Amazon reviews, indicating that it is both effective and safe to use.

Natural drain cleaners can be as simple as baking soda and vinegar or as involved as a wire clothes hanger. The coarse grit in baking soda can scrape away at the sides of a clogged pipe and loosen trapped debris, while the acid in vinegar chemically reacts with the baking soda to lift grime from the pipes. Boiling water can also help unclog a drain by adding pressure to the mixture.

If these homemade remedies don’t work, it may be time to call a professional Drain Cleaning. Clogs that are deeper than a few inches or caused by root infiltration of the sewer system are best left to a plumber who can safely remove them without damaging your pipes. A plumber can also install or repair sewer backup filters and other devices to prevent future clogs.