a tall building in a city

The Reliable

Can Drain Cleaner Damage Pipes?


Can Drain Cleaner Damage Pipes?

Thinking about using drain cleaner to attack a clog in your home? Turning to an over-the-counter chemical shouldn’t always be your first move — nor is it ever the best move. To break up certain types of clogs, a drain cleaning product employs elements that generate a chemical reaction, essentially creating heat and movement inside the pipes to dislodge or eat away at clogs. The problem with these products, however, is that they don’t help homeowners know the cause of the clog.  

Put drain cleaner to use on a serious blockage in the depths of your plumbing, and you’ll think that you’ve solved the problem. What you’ve really done, however, is delayed the inevitable — a more costly, messier plumbing fix.

No one faults you for wanting to use drain cleaner. It seems like a cheap, simple fix, and using it gives you the feeling of accomplishment. Blockage problem solved!

Or is it?

In the long run, turning to the liquid product to fix a clog can lead to bigger problems down the road and drain cleaner can damage pipes.

The Solution Damages Your Toilet

Pour it into the toilet bowl, and the product just sits there. Because toilets are full of water and slow-draining, the caustic liquid clog-buster starts to damage the bowl. The solution generates heat, which can cause the bowl to crack. Worse, the chemical reaction that occurs under water can lead to an explosion. Either way, these two outcomes are much more costly than one service call to a plumber. If you call a plumber first, he will use a drain snake to get to the clog — wherever it may be — and safely clear out the pipes.

Drain Cleaner Can Damage Your Pipes

Drain cleaner is caustic, meaning it will eat away at your pipes — even the tougher types. If your home employs plastic pipes, use the solution sparingly, if at all. It can even eat away at metal pipes. Use the solution once to break up a clog, and you could be safe. Use it repeatedly, however, and you’re asking for trouble. Most pipe materials can’t withstand repeated use of the chemicals.

When Should You Use It?

In general, homeowners should avoid using the product repeatedly for any reason. Use it at your own risk, but you’ll stay on the safe side if you use it to break up a suspected hair ball clogging a shower or sink drain, or you suspect soap buildup has clogged a pipe. If you take good care of your plumbing, however, and avoid putting grease and food scraps down the drains, a clog is likely a sign of a more serious problem. Get help from a pro with the right tools to identify and reach clogs, and the experience to know when you’ve got a serious problem on your hands.

Drain cleaner isn’t your friend. It’s a foe. Unless you have a plumber’s expertise, it’s best not to mess with DIY remedies. Instead, contact a professional to identify the root cause of the blockage, and you’ll rest assured that you won’t meet a serious plumbing problem head on down the road.

For more information about plumbing problems or clearing blockages, contact Reliable Heating & Air today!