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Should You Use Chemical Drain Cleaners?

There’s a slow feeling of dread that comes with a slow-draining sink. Is it a big problem further down the plumbing system or just a few bits of food stuck in the pipe that can easily be removed?  

Whatever it is, a blockage needs to be cleared before the problem gets worse. 

Our sinks, pipes and drains put up with a lot. Along with water, they get food, soap, hair and all kinds of debris put down them all day, which can sometimes lead to blockages. 

If you’ve got a blocked sink, you might first of all reach for the plunger. Then, if a good plunge doesn’t work and the sink’s still blocked, you might be tempted to buy one of the many chemical drain cleaning products that are on the market. After all, those drain cleaners that come as a liquid, powder or gel are convenient and cheaper than a plumber who may or may not turn up when they said they would. 

But are chemical drain cleaners a good idea or should you use a professional drainage company instead? 

Obviously, a plumber or drainage company is going to say you should use a professional to unblock your drains and not to rely on something you can buy in a bottle or packet from your local shop. They’re actually right to try and persuade you from using these products, but let’s have a look at some of the reasons why you shouldn’t use chemical drain cleaners. 

They’re dangerous to humans and pets

Chemical drain cleaners work by creating a chemical reaction that heats up to eat away at the blockage. These chemicals are strong and the toxic fumes they produce can irritate your nose, eyes and throat. 

You’re not just in danger of a bit of an itch though – a splash of drain cleaner can cause a nasty burn, not to mention the damage it will do to your clothing. 

Is this really the sort of product you want around your children and pets? 

Damage to pipes and fittings 

Not only can chemical drain cleaners be damaging to humans and pets, they can also damage your pipes and fittings. The heat created can melt plastic pipes and metal pipes can become corroded over time. 

What started as a small blockage can turn into a damaged pipe which will cost you more to repair in the long run, not to mention the disruption and inconvenience of having a new pipe fitted. 

Bad for the environment 

Whatever you put down your sink ends up in the sewer system and can pollute rivers, poisoning wildlife. Also, there will always be some residue left on the packaging it came in, which will end up in landfill, causing further problems for the environment. 

You may feel you’re just one person and a tiny bit of toxic chemical isn’t going to ruin the planet, but if everyone did it… well, you get the idea. 

They only fix the problem temporarily 

The chemicals in drain cleaners eat away at the clog in the pipe but it doesn’t get rid of all the blockage because gravity stops it from reaching everywhere. So, you may get a big enough hole in your blockage eaten away that lets the water run freely again but because it’s only a small hole, it’ll soon get blocked up again. 

As you can see, a chemical drain cleaner isn’t a good idea. A professional drainage company will be able to call at your home, diagnose the problem and use specialised equipment to clear the blockage for you and advise on any further work you may need to be done to your pipes or drain. 

If you do use a chemical drain cleaner to unblock your sink, always read the instructions carefully, wear protective clothing, ventilate the room thoroughly and keep all pets and children out of the area. 

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