Drain Cleaner Danger: Four Warnings You Shouldn't Ignore

Stubborn clogs can leave anyone looking for a quick fix and if the water isn't going down the drain the way it should, many people reach for commercial drain cleaning products. While these chemicals can help with the occasional minor clog, they can also do some pretty serious damage to your plumbing and your health. Before you tip that bottle into the drain, heed the following warnings.

Never Use On Drains With Plastic Pipes

Drain cleaners work because they're made of extremely caustic chemicals. Depending on which brand you use, it may contain lye, sodium hydroxide, sulfuric acid or a host of other dangerous compounds. These commercial products will eat through anything and they don't discriminate between a clump of hair or the pipe that it's stuck in. If you've got plastic plumbing, steer clear. When the chemicals begins to dissolve your pipes, you'll have bigger problems on your hands than a stopped up shower.

Don't Use Too Much

If you've got a tough clog, it's tempting to keep adding more drain cleaner until it begins to work but this can be hazardous to your pipes. If the initial dose doesn't help, it's time to call a plumber. Dumping more chemicals down the drain won't solve your problem but it will definitely create a new one, since the excess cleaner will sit in your pipe with nowhere to go and begin corroding the metal.

Combining Different Brands Is Bad News

If one brand doesn't work, don't reach for a different brand. The chemicals used by each manufacturer can vary widely and, when combined, can cause anything from toxic fumes to an explosion. There's no way for you to know how much of the first brand remains in the bottom of the drain; adding a different brand on top of it can mean a trip to the emergency room.

Always Tell Your Plumber You've Used Drain Cleaner

If the drain cleaner fails, you'll most likely need to have a plumber from a place like Hilmans Plumbing come out to diagnose your problem. When you call to book your appointment, be sure to tell them that you've used drain cleaner. Depending on the location and severity of the clog and the amount of cleaner you've used, it may be necessary to wait a few days before they begin work. They'll need to be sure the chemicals have been flushed out before they can safely plunge or snake your drain.

Drains that continuously back up are an indication of a bigger problem somewhere in your pipes. While commercial drain cleaners may provide a quick fix for minor clogs, they just treat the symptoms. Only a plumber can diagnose the underlying problem and provide you with a cure.