Photo By graalz at Shutterstock
Chemical Drain Cleaners Can be Problematic
The powerful chemicals available in store-bought drain cleaner can be effective, but they can also leave a dangerous mess that makes finishing the job more difficult. In particular, they pose a risk to the plumber who is providing drain cleaning service and potentially splashing water with chemicals while using special tools or opening the P-trap.
If you do use chemicals, make sure that you don’t follow them with a plunger or snake, which can splash the chemicals and cause burns or blindness. Here are some alternatives that may do the job more safely.
What’s in the Drain? Hair, Grease, Food, Solid Objects
One of the advantages a drain cleaning service has is a professional video inspection tool that can identify the cause of the problem. The plumber sends the camera down and examines the picture to determine whether there’s a solid clog, a foreign object, or a buildup of material.
Your choice of alternatives to chemicals will be most effective if you have some idea of what’s in the drain. In the shower or tub, it’s probably hair and soap scum, sometimes a shampoo cap. In the toilet, there might be either foreign objects or human waste and sanitary products. In the sink, there could be hair, soap scum, grease, food, and foreign objects like toys or toothpaste caps — our drain cleaning service has seen it all.
Tailor the Process to the Clog
What’s down there? It makes a big difference in the clearing technique. To be most effective, figure out whether you need to dissolve or remove the clog, and whether a small hole will help hot water remove the remaining material.
Non-Chemical Drain Cleaning Solutions
A pot of boiling water poured down the drain can quickly clear simple clogs, especially if grease or soap scum is the problem and the drain is simply slow, not stopped. That material can slowly accumulate over time and slow the flow but yield quickly to really hot water. Be careful if you have plastic pipes, the sudden heat could cause leaks or cracking in some materials. Our drain cleaning service can advise you.
Forced Air Pressure Devices
Similar to the action of a plunger but without the likelihood of splashing and awkward angles, this device sends a blast of pressurized air down the drain. You pump it up to store the pressure, seal it tightly to the drain, and pull the trigger to release the pressure. This can cause a partial clearing which can be more easily dealt with since you have resumed some flow down the drain. Remember, though, that a solid object will just be forced down the drain further and wedged more tightly by the air.
Small toilet and drain snakes, long augers with a crank attached, and other devices that attempt to grind and penetrate the clog can be very effective. In some cases, you may be lucky enough to snag a toy or other object and pull it out. Simple snakes that insert with one-way spines and pull out hair can help reduce shower clogs, and long augers are effective at reaching far down toilet drains to break up clogs. Our drain cleaning service can finish the job.
Pipe cleaning products using enzymes to safely dissolve clog material are somewhat slow and less effective on full blockages. They are a great choice for drainpipe maintenance, though, reducing buildup and preventing the progress of pipe restrictions to slow drains and then blockages. They work only on organic substances which ideally should be most of what goes down your drains. They dissolve material such as food and human waste, and they also help clean your pipes of bacteria and other matter that can produce odors.
Don’t Forget to Keep Your Plungers Separate
As a reminder, you really don’t want to use the same plunger for your toilet and your sink. Make sure that you have separate devices for each job and the appropriate size for the toilet or sink. Make sure you clean and sterilize them promptly to ensure that anyone who handles them by accident is not at risk of infection.
Your drain cleaning service can often solve your drain problem by accessing and cleaning out the looping P-trap. With the right tools and experience to open this often-stuck access port and remove water and material without making a mess, your drain cleaning service could be a simple visit.
Your drain cleaning service can employ some of these techniques with more powerful devices, such as power augers or hydro-jetting tools instead of the burst of air. These can do a more complete job and handle stubborn clogs fairly quickly, saving you time and frustration.
Is it Really That Drain? Clogged Drains Can Mean Bigger Trouble
Even if that toilet, shower, or sink is a common source of clog problems, there may come a time when the problem is further down the line. That’s one reason a drain cleaning service can be a big help — addressing the real problem can save you from bigger issues. For example, if your drain is slow, toilets are backing up, and basement drains have unexplained material accumulating on them, you may have a sewer problem that needs prompt attention. Clearing the toilet won’t help much in that case and catching your sewer problem early can save you from a nasty cleanup job. At bluefrog, we have the video inspection tools and sewer pipe repair techniques to save you time and money if your sewer connection is in trouble.
Count on bluefrog to Keep Your Drains Clear and Your Plumbing Flowing
bluefrog Plumbing + Drain takes care of household and commercial plumbing needs, including drain cleaning service. You can schedule a visit or call us for emergencies and get a complete professional solution to your plumbing problem. Give us a call or use our contact form to connect with our team of expert plumbers.