Finding a clogged drain in your kitchen or bathroom sink is always unnerving. Whenever you see one, it suggests that you’re about to get into a messy, unpleasant, and potentially expensive situation. Before reaching for a bottle of drain cleaner that promises you a quick and easy solution, it’s important to understand just how dangerous that bottle of drain cleaner can be to you and your plumbing. So what are some risks of using drain cleaners, and how can you clear a clogged drain without chemicals?
Risks of Using Chemical Drain Cleaners
While they can sometimes be effective, drain cleaners have several drawbacks. Not only can they be dangerous to humans and pets, but they can also be bad for your plumbing and the environment. Here are some of the reasons why you should first try to clear a clogged drain without using chemicals:
Dangerous Chemical Residue
If drain cleaners fail to remove a clog, they can leave behind a concentrated hazardous chemical residue that makes it more difficult for anyone who comes along later to safely use different methods to unclog the drain. It can damage pipes and tools and harm the skin, eyes, and lungs.
Damage to Plumbing
Drain cleaners generate heat, which can cause ceramic toilet bowls to crack, PVC pipes to soften, corroded pipes to fail, and pipe adhesive to dissolve.
Drain cleaners can also leave a residue in your pipes that can cause a chemical reaction when it comes into contact with household cleaners you might use later, creating dangerous fumes.
Drain cleaners are poisonous chemicals that often contain lye, bleach, sodium hydroxide, hydrochloric acid, sulphuric acid, or other harsh chemicals. Exposure to drain cleaner fumes can cause coughing, shortness of breath, eye irritation, skin irritation, asthma attacks, and burns. It can also lead to fainting, blindness, shock, seizures, coma, or even death. They are especially dangerous to keep around households with children and pets.
Damage to Septic Tanks
Drain cleaners can kill the essential bacteria in a septic tank that breaks down waste. Replacing a damaged septic tank can cost thousands of dollars.
To avoid these and other hazards, it’s best to unclog drains without chemicals whenever possible. Contact Drain Doctor, your local plumber in Glendora, CA, for assistance with your clogged drains.
How to Unclog Drains Without Chemicals
When you have a clogged drain and need to do something about it quickly, you don’t have to go to the local hardware store for dangerous drain cleaning chemicals. Whether you don’t have any handy or simply want to avoid the dangers of using them, here are several ways you can unclog drains without chemicals:
Use a Plunger
The first step in unclogging a sink is a plunger. The plunger’s pressure may be enough to dislodge whatever is clogging the sink.
Run Hot Water Into the Sink
If the clog is caused by grease, pour a pot of boiling water down the drain. The hot water can melt or soften the grease, which can help it dislodge and move its way through the drain.
Use Baking Soda and Vinegar
You will need one cup of baking soda and 2 cups of vinegar for this technique. Pour one cup of baking soda into the drain. Then slowly pour 1 cup of vinegar onto the baking soda. After the foaming action begins to subside, add the second cup of vinegar. Then run hot tap water down the drain. You can also try this method using a baking soda/salt combo by using 1/2 cup of baking soda and 1/2 cup of salt instead of one full cup of baking soda.
Use a Plastic Sink Drain Cleaner
Sink snake cleaners are flexible plastic tools that are usually about 2 feet long and resemble barbed zip ties. When inserted into a drain and pulled back out, any hair or debris gets caught onto the barbs and pulled out of the drain. You can wiggle and rotate them in the drain to ensure you get out as much of the clog as possible. Sink drain cleaners are available for a few dollars and are a handy tool for any household.
Use a Plumbing Snake or Auger
Plumbing snakes work the same way as a plastic sink drain cleaner, except they are made of heavy-duty steel cable that is approximately 25 feet long, making it able to clear clogs further into the plumbing system. The cable can be worked through the drain and break through clogs. Some plumbing snakes come with a crank that will rotate the cable, allowing it to catch any debris or dislodge any gunk clogging the drains. When the cable is pulled out, the clog comes with it. The cranks are usually operated by hand, but some can be operated using an electric drill.
Disconnect the P-Trap
Have a container or bucket handy to catch any water or debris that falls out of the sink’s drain pipe as the P-trap is disconnected. Loosen the slip nuts connecting the P-trap. Sometimes, they can be removed by hand, but you can also use channel locks or a wrench if they are too tight. Once both slip nuts are loosened, lower the P-trap and clean out any hair or debris. If needed, you can also clean out the sink’s drain pipe and the gooseneck pipe (the one leading to the wall) with a plastic sink drain cleaner or a plumbing snake. When reattaching the P-trap, use plumber’s tape to help create a watertight seal on the threaded joints. The nuts can be hand tightened. Then use a wrench or channel locks to give them a 1/4 turn to make sure they are tight enough.
Using these methods, you can unclog drains without chemicals, saving yourself, your family, your plumbing, and the environment from hazards associated with potentially serious drain cleaning chemical accidents. These methods are effective, safer, environmentally friendly, and less likely to cause long-term damage. Whenever possible, always try to clear a clogged drain without chemicals.
When to Call for Help
When you’re presented with a clogged drain, you can unclog it without chemicals in many ways. However, if you have already tried to clear a clogged drain without chemicals and nothing seems to work, you don’t have to risk exposing yourself to the toxic chemicals in drain cleaners to get your water flowing again. Contact Drain Doctor Plumbing & Rooter Service before resorting to dangerous drain cleaners. We provide 24/7 emergency plumbing service and professional drain cleaning in Glendora, CA.