When your kitchen or bathroom sink clogs up, it’s very tempting to use chemical drain cleaners to make the clog go away. With the variety of drain cleaners available at the grocery store, it can be a convenient and affordable option.
But that does not mean it is a good option.
Chemical drain cleaners can be dangerous, even ones made to be used by regular people and not professionals. Most of the chemical drain cleaners found in retail stores are caustic bases. This means that they are a mixture of lye and bleach severely diluted by water. Most cleaning solutions typically have a concentration of 0.5 to 2%, which makes them relatively safe.
Caustic bases will not damage the metal pipes, like acid would. They can eat through soap scum, hair, and other things that is clogging your drain without damaging the pipes. But even caustic bases can still be dangerous for you. Getting it into your eyes or an open cut can cause serious damage and medical attention should be sought immediately.
Not only are they bad for you, but they are also bad for the environment. The chemicals cause harm to bacteria and other life forms, including plants and animals. Think about it: if it eats through hair and soap scum, what else does it eat through? The chemicals are essentially water pollution that causes harm.
In addition to that, even the “safe” caustic bases can cause damage to the pipes if not used properly. Sometimes the cleaner will wash away only part of the clog, or will wash it away only to be trapped further on in the pipeline. The chemicals will sit there, and cause damage to your pipes.
At first it might not be noticeable. The chemicals will attack the bacteria living in the pipes first. But after that is cleared, they will soak into the pipes, causing rust and corrosion. Eventually this will ruin the pipes completely and they will need to get replaced.
All of this causes more time and money in the long run than it is worth. Not only is it bad for you, the other members of your household, and the environment, but it will damage your pipes so they would have to be replaced. On top of that, it might only partially remove the clog, which will become a problem again. Calling a professional for the clogged sink is the best option.