Just Say No... to Drano!
Do you have a sink or tub drain that drains slowly or is completely backed up? You may be tempted to go for that quick fix and buy a chemical drain cleaner, like Drano or Liquid Plumr. After all, they are inexpensive, easy to apply, and it's a lot cheaper than calling a plumber, right?
Well before you pour that potion down your pipe, you may want to consider the potential risks from using these products.
First, they are highly toxic. The main ingredients in chemical drain cleaners are highly corrosive -- usually sulphuric acid and lye. They work by dissolving grease and hair into a liquid so it will flow down your drain. While the consumer versions of these products are not as concentrated as commercial products, they are still extremely dangerous. The ingredients can be fatal if ingested. If the cleaner touches your skin or membranes, it can cause severe burns. And if the drain cleaner is accidentally mixed with another cleaning agent that contains bleach (like the kinds of cleaners many people use in their sinks and tubs), you may inadvertently create chlorine gas, a highly toxic and deadly gas.
Second, since the chemicals in drain cleaners are corrosive, they can also cause damage to your pipes, especially if you have an older home with metal pipes. If acid eats through a pipe inside of a wall, you could turn a simple problem that a plumber visit could have fixed in a few minutes into a major headache that could take hours and hundreds -- or even thousands -- of dollars to repair.
Third, considering that these chemicals eat through organic matter, and even metal, imagine how much harm they can do to the environment when they are flushed out into your septic system or into municipal sewers. Chemical drain cleaners are very bad for the environment.
So what other options do you have? For just a little more money than a bottle of name-brand drain cleaner, you can buy a small drain snake. This reaches down into the clog with a long, flexible metal tube and breaks up the clog.
Plastic clog removers like this one usually cost less than $4 at your local hardware store and can fix most minor drainage problems without harsh chemicals.
If it's just a sink clog, it's likely you can use a mini drain snake or a small plastic clog remover like the one pictured, both fo which can pull out the gunk that is blocking the pipe. You can pick up one either of these for under $4 at your local hardware store.
You can also try a sink plunger for sink and tub blockages. These are the plungers that do not have a flange, and they have smaller ones that are designed to fit into smaller sinks.
If none of these methods work, it's probably time to call a plumber like M&M Plumbing to professionally clear the drain. Like we asked earlier, is it worth the risks to your pipes and you and your family's health to use chemical drain cleaners? In addition, if you've had repeated problems with clogged drains, they may be a symptom of another problem, like a blockage at a junction farther down in your drainage system, or even a compromised drain from a tree root. A plumber can inspect your drains and look for underlying causes like these.
So the next time you have a clog, try some of the non-chemical options we've listed here. And if that fails, give us a call at M&M Plumbing. We'll be happy to help!