Chemicals vs. Tools: Which Is Better for Drain Cleaning?

Chemicals vs. Tools: Which Is Better for Drain Cleaning?

For slow or clogged drains, there are two basic ways to fix the problem — chemicals or tools. Our company uses the best method to ensure our clients won’t have problems in the near future. However, bluefrog Plumbing + Drain also believes in an eco-friendly approach whenever possible. Here, we’ll look at the advantages and disadvantages of each method.

Our Plumbing Company Chooses Tools First

Several tools cab unclog slow-performing drains. The easiest, most straightforward method is using a plunger. We may use a mild liquid drain opener and remove the trap to clear away hair and other debris causing the problem. There’s a chance that this won’t be enough because the clog lies deeper in the pipes, and we have ways of handling that too.

Let’s look at the most common tools used to clear your drain and ensure that wastewater flows away quickly.


Also called force cups, plungers are the first go-to of any professional plumbing company — and more than a few homeowners. There are several reasons for this. First, it’s one of the most affordable tools, plus it’s easy to use. Also, a plunger won’t scratch or damage ceramic and porcelain surfaces.

Plungers are an effective way to remove blockages in sinks, toilets and tubs when they work. We recommend and utilize combination plungers with two nested cups, which form a seal and make the plunger more efficient.


Commonly called a snake, an auger is made of a tightly coiled cable about 1/4-inch round. It comes in various sizes. Some augers are automated, and others must be snaked through the pipe manually. Typical augurs have a z-shaped handle that cranks the cable, helping it move through the pipe. Longer augers typically come with a round holder that makes it easier to dispense, store and move the tool.

Our bluefrog plumbers usesautomated augers that spin and move swiftly through the pipe and accommodate a long cable.

Closet Auger

Commonly used in toilets, a closet auger is more rigid than other augers. It has a crank attached to a short cable, and a rubber sleeve protects the porcelain finish on the toilet bowl.

Sewer Tape

This simple tool consists of a flat-metal tool with a hook on one end. It’s good for clearing clogs caused by a blocked trap. Other jobs typically require an auger.

Video Cameras

Video cameras are state-of-the-art tools that we attach to a special auger to view the clog and assess the best way to clear it.

Chemicals Used by a Plumbing Company

Chemicals used to unclog drains consist of liquid or foam formulations that are heavier than water. These chemicals pass through the water in blocked tubs, sinks and toilets to get to the clog.

Drain cleaners often contain potassium hydroxide to transform grease into soft soap, and thioglycolic acid to dissolve hair. Other common ingredients include sodium hydroxide, lye, or sulfuric acid.

Some of these ingredients are toxic and require special care. We recommend leaving it to a trained plumber from bluefrog Plumbing + Drain to avoid damaging your pipes or endangering the health of your family.

If you use drain cleaners at home, read the instructions thoroughly before use. Many contain ingredients that can burn your skin and hurt your eyes if any of the liquid splashes around.

What Is Chemical Drain Cleaning?

Choose a responsible plumbing company that uses chemical drain cleaners safely and judiciously. This simple method may dislodge stubborn clogs. Chemical drain cleaners can also dissolve small tree roots that have invaded your pipes.

We pour a portion of the chemical cleaner into the clogged sink, tub or toilet, give it time to work, then flush it into the pipes with hot water (or with a flush in the case of a toilet). The acid in the liquid cleaner dissolves the grease, hair, oil and other substances forming the clog.

The two kinds of chemical cleaners include alkaline and acidic cleaners.

Alkaline Drain Cleaners

The most common alkaline drain cleaners have potassium hydroxide and sodium hydroxide. The cleaners include additives to help initiate the cleaning process.

bluefrog advises technicians to use gloves and glasses when handling the chemicals. We take extra care to use only what’s needed and to ensure that the chemicals do not spill on your sensitive surfaces.

The chemical encounters the clogging substances, which initiates a reaction. The substances forming the clog dissolve and flush into the municipal waste system or your septic tank. This leaves your pipes clear and ready to work normally.

Acidic Drain Cleaners

Acidic drain cleaners contain stronger acids that untrained people should avoid. These chemical cleaners are a last resort for the most stubborn clogs. When our plumbing company uses these chemicals, we explain the process to you and may ask you to avoid the area until it’s been properly ventilated.

When bluefrog Plumbing + Drain plumbers use acids, they wear protective gear. Acids can be extremely dangerous if used incorrectly, so we recommend that homeowners and business owners avoid them at all times.

Our company never mixes acids with other products that can cause toxic chemical reactions. It’s exceptionally dangerous to pour products down your drains without fully understanding the health risk and possible damage to your pipes.

When other methods do not work, our company may turn to acidic chemicals. Otherwise, the process is the same. The acidic product is poured down the drain and given time to contact and dissolve the clog.

Both unclogging tools and chemical agents have their purposes when our plumbing company shows up to quickly resolve your clogged drain. We know that time is of the essence and that you need your plumbing system back in working order quickly.

Contact bluefrog Plumbing + Drain Today

Contact bluefrog Plumbing + Drain for all your plumbing needs — not just drain cleaning. Our plumbing company provides free estimates and guaranteed work completed by licensed, insured and courteous plumbers.

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