The Safe Use Of Chemical Drain Cleaners

Drain cleaners which are biochemical often use bacteria to clear drains, and can normally be used by the everyday man or women. Even though these are generally not caustic, they still need to be observed carefully. These sorts of cleaners can often cause irritations to skin and eyes, so must be used with the utmost care.

As above, the chemicals which are available on the market to clean your drains can often be extremely effective, but along with the chemical, comes a few reasons for caution. You must ALWAYS read the instructions and cautions on the label of the bottle, including any other instructions that come with the product. 9 times out of 10 the cleaner will come with some further instructions, however, if it doesn’t, then you can usually find these listed on the manufacturer’s website on the internet, or perhaps on a relevant forum. As with any product, some are mostly safe, but some can be quite dangerous if misused. Some can react with water and give off poisonous fumes, which if inhaled, can cause serious injury, so please be careful. There are other reasons as to why you need to be careful in your choice of drain cleaner; For example, if you call a drainage company out to unblock your drain and you have already used chemical cleaners to clear the blockage yourself, the cleaner could in fact damage the drainage engineer’s equipment. Not only could it damage the engineer’s equipment, it could also cause injury to the engineer himself! If you do not advise the engineer of the chemicals you have used, and the engineer becomes ill from the chemicals you have used, then you may in fact be held responsible.

What is more worrying is that some chemicals produce colour and odourless fumes, such as Sodium Hydroxide, which can be harmful to human beings. As well as fumes, heat can be produced from some drain cleaning products, which can again cause injury to humans, and can even melt plastic drain pipes.

If the drain cleaner that you have used doesn’t clear the blockage, then a drain jetting machine may be required to blast the blockage away. If the chemical is still active when water is blasted into the drain, then this may cause a further reaction and could unearth further problems, these could include the following:

  • The drain cable could be covered with water containing acid from the chemical, causing damage.
  • Fumes and liquid containing acid could retract back through the household drainage system, through bathtubs and sinks.
  • Heat could form from the chemical and melt or severely damage the drain pipe.

It is worth mentioning that some of the gases that are produced from these chemicals can cause death, not just to humans, but more easily to small animals. It is essential that the area where the chemical is added to, is adequately ventilated e.g. not in confined spaces. A good idea would be to ensure that the person who administers the chemical does so without an audience, reducing the risk of multiple problems.

Burns can be caused in some cases if chemicals are misused, as drain cleaners are manufactured to work on organic material to break it down, and your skin being organic material, would be easily broken down by the chemical causing burns to your skin.

Let’s bear in mind that most drain cleaners have little dangers, and even chemical cleaners you would use to unblock your drain which are dangerous can be safe, if used correctly.

Find more information such as how to unblock your drains and toilets, including how to prevent a blockage in the first place, at


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