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The Plumber's Guide to Drain Cleaners

October 19, 2015

Stubborn clogs in your plumbing can be a real annoyance, especially if they occur frequently. In many cases, you can address clogged drains on your own with products from your local store. Not sure which product is right for you? This free guide from the expert plumbers at Roto-Rooter will help you understand your choices and make an informed decision on which product is right for your plumbing problem.

Chemical Drain Cleaners

The most common drain-cleaning product on the market is one you have likely used before—chemical drain cleaner. Chemical drain cleaners are composed of lye, caustic potash and bleach. Lye, also known as sodium hydroxide, works to physically remove stubborn build up by breaking up the chemical bonds that hold it together. Caustic potash quickens the decomposition of soft tissues and organic matter.

Acid Cleaners

Acid cleaners are more dangerous than store-bought chemical drain cleaners, and should only be used by professionals. The main component is sulfuric acid, which can cause severe chemical and thermal burns if it contacts bare skin. Sulfuric acid can also have a dangerous reaction when exposed to water and certain metals, causing hydrogen gas, which can cause severe damage to the throat, eyes, lungs, and skin.

Plumber’s Snake

If you are wary of chemicals, you can use a drain-cleaning tool called a plumber’s snake. This tool is a long piece of metal with coiled wire at the end. You use it by slipping the metal coil down the drain and then twisting it until the water begins to flow freely down the drain. The coiled wire works to break up the matter that is clogging your drain. It can be a great thing to use when you want to be environmentally conscious or are concerned about the use of toxic chemicals in your home.

If you are unsuccessful with chemical drain cleaners or drain snakes, you may have a more severe problem than you thought. This is especially true if you have more than one drain that’s working slowly. Call one of Roto-Rooter’s professional plumbers to assess the situation. They’ll be able to diagnose the problem, locate the clog, and leverage more advanced tools to rectify the problem.

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