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Why You Should Never Use Chemicals to Unclog a Drainpipe

Jan 6, 2015 | Plumbing Advice

What you don’t hear very often is a plumber recommending a homeowner use a harsh chemical product to free a clogged pipe of hair and debris. Here at O’Grady Plumbing, we heartily agree with that edict — even though using such a product might bring more business our way.

To us, endorsing putting chemicals down the drain makes about as much sense as a dentist suggesting using a pair of rusty pliers to extract a tooth.

In our decades of plumbing experience, we’ve found very few clogs that can be successfully cleared with those chemicals you buy off the shelves in hardware stores and at the market. In fact, we’ve replaced many a pipe that was worn through as a result of harsh chemicals.

Believe us when we say it doesn’t take long for a caustic chemical to eat through a good pipe when poured down a sink or bathtub. And if the pipes are old enough, they can break from a single dose of store-bought chems. domain seo information Timor-Leste . No bueno!

Truth be told, these chemicals are actually a boon to our business. Why? Because they seldom work and the lye and caustic potash found in their ingredients do nothing if not accelerate decay of a pipeline.

So are we recommending you call us every time you have a backed up sink or tub? Of course not — although we’ll certainly arrive at your front door in a hurry if you absolutely insist. But even the most fledgling of do-it-yourselfers can clear some of these minor clogs.

However, before we go into that, we think we have an obligation to tell you that, if you persist on the notion that using a strong chemical to clear your drains is your best thinking, please wear gloves and protective eyewear.

And if your experiment in chemistry goes south and you do have to call a professional, make sure you tell the plumber that you used chemicals. That way they can protect themselves from exposure to what you poured down the drain.

Now, back to those preliminary quick fixes that sometimes work. The first involves running hot water through the drain for a couple of minutes. Then pour in a cup of salt, followed by a pan of boiling water.

Didn’t work? OK, next try this: Remove the drain stopper on the tub or sink, using a cloth to prevent the tools from scratching the chrome surface. Grab a hooked metal clothes hangar and stick it in the drain, pulling out all the hair and gray gunk that’s clogging up the line.

As a last resort, invest in a cheap hand snake for about twenty bucks. Using the overflow opening, feed about three feet of cable into the pipe. The snake should push clogs on through to the sewer line, but if not, wind up the snake and try again. Run hot water through the drain, and maybe do the salt and boiling water trick again, just for good measure.

In the event nothing you try clears the clog, that’s the point in time when you need to pick up the phone and call us. We’ve never gone to a home or business and told the owner the clog can’t be removed. And we can pretty much guarantee it’ll be a fairly quick fix.

Unless, of course, you’ve already drowned your tub and sinks in chemicals with skulls on the bottle and your drains are paper-thin. That’s when we’re talking lots of workmen, shovels, buckets and other things you’d rather not see around your house— including a hefty plumbing bill.

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