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How Do Drain Cleaners Work?

When it comes to clogs and blockage prevention in plumbing systems, using a commercial drain cleaner is a convenient, effective, and inexpensive solution, compared to calling your local plumber. There are many different drain cleaner brands on the market, however, most chemical drain cleaners rest upon one of two categories: caustic and acid. In addition to these categories, drain cleaners are manufactured into liquid, powder, pellet, and gel forms for versatile use.

Acid Drain Cleaners

Made of high concentrations of sulfuric acid or hydrochloric acid, acid drain cleaners are often the most effective, expensive, and dangerous drain cleaners on the market. Because they are so dangerous, most acid drain cleaners are exclusively sold to professional plumbers who can use the chemicals safely. However, some stores carry select brands of acid drain cleaners.

The acids used to make the drain cleaner increase hydronium ions in a solution and attract electrons from the clog within a given drain. This causes a chemical reaction which releases a great amount of heat, hot enough to dissolve the entire clog in a matter of minutes. Acid drain cleaners are effective at dissolving major clogs made up of human waste, human hair, and grease. 

This category of drain cleaner is dangerous because the acid eats organic material upon contact. If those handling an acid drain cleaner fail to follow proper precautions, it will burn and eat away human skin possibly resulting in permanent damage.

Caustic Drain Cleaners

Many of the well-known drain cleaning brands found in our stores today are caustic drain cleaners. Caustic drain cleaners are cheaper and safer when compared to acid drain cleaners. However, caustic drain cleaners are less effective at dissolving blockages within a plumbing system.

With 50% concentrations of chemicals such as sodium hypochlorite and lye, caustic drain cleaners work similar to that of acid drain cleaners, but the lower concentration and choice more mild chemicals has made caustic drain cleaners more safe and less effective. Caustic drain cleaners are effective at dissolving more minor clogs composed of human hair or kitchen grease. 

Caustic drain cleaners are safer because they do not immediately dissolve organic material upon contact. If skin was exposed to a caustic drain cleaner, the user would have time to wash the dangerous chemicals off their skin before any damage could be done. This “safety feature” helps protect users, but increases the time it takes to dissolve a clog.   

Recommended Caustic Drain Cleaners

Looking for an effective drain cleaner that is safe and affordable? Below are some of the favorite caustic drain cleaners that our plumbers use on the job and at home in the event of a plumbing clog: 

If you need a professional plumber to address a clog, leak, or any other plumbing problem that may occur in your home, call or contact us today!