What’s In Drain Cleaner? And Why Doesn’t It Work In Sewer Drain Cleaning?


Why drain cleaners don't work very well in sewer drain cleaningWe understand that there is a certain temptation that comes with chemical drain cleaners. After all, you simply have to go to the store, pay your $7 for some Drano or Liquid Plumr, and you’re good to go, right?

Well, not really. Chemical drain cleaners are one thing we rail against here at Garvin’s Sewer Service, and there are many reasons that we don’t use them in your home or ours.

What’s In Them: Chemical drain cleaners contain chemicals like sodium hydroxide, sodium nitrate, sodium hypochlorite, and aluminum. We’re not trying to scare you with big words, but we will scare you with their warnings to that, should it get in your eyes, mouth, or even skin, you should get to a poison control center immediately. After all, this stuff is made to dissolve organic matter. Hey, that’s exactly what you’re made of!

It’s Only A Short Term Fix: We admit, chemical drain cleaners can (but don’t always) work short term. They might get your drain to unclog that night, but it’s certainly not doing much to help you long term. Why?

Think of the clog in your drain. It’s sitting there, made of food particles, hair, grease, and all the other stuff that falls down the pipe. If you send a chemical cleaner down, it drops to the bottom (because the liquid is heavier than water) and settles on top of the clog. Then it gets to work, dissolving the most vulnerable part of the clog, often the fats. But the moment it pokes a small hole in the clog it heads down the drain and is gone. You’re happy because your water starts going down, but in many cases most of the clog is still there, only now it has holes in it. Because the clog is still there it can grab even more stuff, and once it fills up you’re just back to square one.

Maybe you’ll help it next time by using a plunger. Oh no you don’t, because…

Their Limitations Are Unlimited!: According the website of a popular consumer chemical drain cleaner [name redacted to protect the lackluster], you’d better not use a plunger because the product could splash back and get on your clothing. In our industry, that’s code for “splash back and blind you permanently.” Can you use it in a toilet? No. Can you use it in the dishwasher? No. Can it remove foreign objects that were dropped down the drain. No. Can you use them in any plumbing that has any rubber whatsoever. Again, nope.

If You Have A Root Problem: If your problems are roots, chemical drain cleaners are going to do something between “diddly” and “squat.” There are commercial grade acids that can help clear tree roots, but in most cases you’ll have to have a license to use them…and do you really want them in your home in the first place? We don’t want to have to deal with them either.

So what’s a person to do when they need proper sewer drain cleaning? Do what the chemical cleaner’s website says and give someone like Garvin’s Sewer Service a call when they don’t work and you need proper rooter service. We’ll clean your pipes edge to edge to make sure the clogs are truly gone.