Why You Should Avoid Using Chemical Drain Cleaners

Why You Should Avoid Using Chemical Drain Cleaners

Using Draino or liquid plumber in your drains and sinks can pose significant problems for several reasons. Firstly, these products are only effective if the clog is located in the trap directly below the sink or tub. Beyond this point, their effectiveness rapidly diminishes because they typically consist of acidic or caustic chemicals designed to dissolve fats, oils, and greases within the trap. However, these chemicals can cause damage to plastic piping in walls or floors and create leaks in metal pipes still in use today. Traps under sinks are designed for easy removal, allowing for manual clearing of clogs without the need for hazardous chemicals.

Traps serve an essential function in plumbing systems, which is often misunderstood. Contrary to popular belief, traps are not primarily designed to catch jewelry or other items. Instead, they create a water-tight seal that prevents sewer gases from entering the home. These gases, originating from the sewer or septic system, push against trap seals located in sinks, toilets, and laundry drains. The water seal in the trap halts the gases, redirecting them back into the system for proper evacuation through roof vent pipes. This function is critical for maintaining a safe and healthy indoor environment.


Chemical drain cleaners, such as Draino or liquid plumber, present several risks. Their effectiveness is limited to the trap, and they are ineffective at clearing clogs beyond this point. This often leads to repeated use without resolving the issue. Moreover, these chemicals can corrode the metal cables used by plumbers to clear clogs, potentially breaking the cables within the system. This necessitates extensive repairs, including cutting out the piping to remove the broken cable and the original clog. Additionally, these chemicals pose significant health risks. When plumbers open drainage systems, they risk exposure to these harmful substances, which can cause serious burns or even loss of sight.


For slow or clogged drains, the recommended approach is to manually remove the trap elbow under the sink and clear the blockage physically. If the clog is beyond the trap, a liquid enzymatic cleaner is a safer and more effective alternative. Enzymatic cleaners digest gunk, sludge, fats, oils, and greases, converting them into water, which flows freely down the drain. These cleaners are safe for all types of pipes and are readily available at hardware stores such as Ace Hardware, Home Depot, and Lowe's.


In conclusion, rather than resorting to hazardous chemical drain cleaners, homeowners should consider using enzymatic cleaners and scheduling routine plumbing inspections. This approach ensures free-flowing drains while avoiding the risks associated with caustic chemicals, ultimately leading to a safer and more efficient plumbing system.


- Don Hilderbrand
PlumbSmart Plumbing and Drains

Leave a Comment