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What Happens When I Use Liquid Chemical Drain Cleaners?

What Happens When I Use Liquid Chemical Drain Cleaners

Have your sinks, tubs or showers been draining slowly lately?

Or maybe the basement floor drain has been backing up?

As highly-rated Calgary plumbers for over 50 years, we’ve seen our fair share of drainage nightmares, and we often get asked what happens when I use liquid chemical drain cleaners?

Though it may be tempting as a quick fix, here’s why it’s crucial that you don’t dump liquid chemical drain cleaners down to try to address the problem.

What Not to Do

First, let’s look at what not to do.

No matter what kind of drain or pipes you have, whether or not you know what’s causing the backup, or how quickly you need it fixed, do not reach for the liquid chemical drain cleaner.

These products are harsh and corrosive and will damage your drain and pipes regardless of what they’re made of. In a cast iron or galvanized steel pipe — the type you’ll find in older houses (those built prior to 1970 in Calgary) — the chemicals are extremely corrosive.

As the pipes corrode, they will eventually start to crack and then fail completely. In more modern ABS (Acrylonitrile-Butadiene-Styrene — or, the white plastic pipes) or PVC (polyvinyl chloride — black plastic) pipes, these chemicals still wreak havoc, causing the plastic to become brittle over time.

It might not be so bad if you could use one bottle and be done with it, but because it only chemically eats through any blockage and doesn’t deal with the root of the issue, you use it repeatedly.

Think of it this way: it’s like going on a long road trip, ending up with the front grille of your car plastered with bugs and using sandpaper to clean them off. Again and again.


We do however recommend that you address the issues you experience sooner rather than later, clogged drains can also cause low water pressure and a host of other problems.

Alternatives to Chemicals

Though pipes wear out over time, and ground-level drains suffer as the ground shifts through the freezing and thawing of seasonal changes, you can prolong their life with proper care and maintenance.

The alternatives to harsh, corrosive chemicals are enzymes; sending a drain auger down; or jetting out the pipe with a stream of high-pressure water.

It’s inevitable that with use over time, you’ll see a build-up of sludge in your pipes — a slimy collection of all that stuff we wash down the drain, eventually slowing things down.

The cheapest, easiest, safest and most effective way to prevent these blockages from causing long-term damage is to first send a camera down to make sure it’s not something serious, and then use a drain auger to clear the blockage. We can also use a jet of high-pressure water to scour out the pipe.

We can come out and do this anytime — we’ve dealt with our fair share of clogged drain in Calgary! – call us before you pour any chemicals down there!

We highly recommend a liquid enzyme product like Bio-One as a regular preventive measure. These liquid enzymes not only eat their way (naturally) through whatever is blocking the drain, they stay in the pipe and eat away at what follows.

When used regularly, this is a healthy, non-corrosive way to keep your pipes clear!

Call Instant Plumbing & Heating for drain assistance!

Here are a few reasons why you should call us at Instant Plumbing & Heating instead of using chemical drain cleaners yourself:

– Safety – Chemical drain cleaners contain very caustic and corrosive ingredients like lye or sulfuric acid. They can cause severe burns if they come into contact with skin and can release toxic fumes. Improper use risks serious injury. A professional plumber has training and equipment to use them more safely.

– Effectiveness – Drain cleaners may unclog very simple clogs but are often ineffective at thoroughly clearing serious blockages. The clog often returns shortly after use. A plumber has specialized tools like snakes and hydro-jetters to thoroughly clean drains and remove clogs.

– Prevention – A plumber can diagnose the root cause of the clog, like tree roots, faulty pipes, grease buildup, etc. They can provide solutions to prevent clogs from recurring. Drain cleaners only offer a temporary fix but don’t address underlying issues.

– Damage – Chemical drain cleaners can corrode pipes and wear down materials over time. A professional plumber is trained to properly clear drains without causing deterioration and leaks.

– Convenience – We have emergency plumbers available 24/7 and that means no messy clean-up or time spent monitoring the drain. They have the expertise to unclog drains efficiently.

The bottom line is drain cleaners are often an incomplete or temporary solution. Calling Instant Plumbing & Heating avoids the dangers of DIY chemicals and provides a more permanent clog removal service. Our technicians have the skills and tools to do the job right.

George Pinel
George Pinel

Master Plumber

I have been involved in this family owned business for 33 years now.

It has always been and will continue to be the core focus of Instant Plumbing & Heating to provide a long lasting relationship with our customers based on trust and integrity of our service and products.

This achieved by using the best quality materials. I as a business owner continue to mentor and treat my staff with the highest regard and respect, this interns helps them deliver to the client great quality workmanship and service.

It is our professional goal to leave a situation better than when we arrived both in how we do our work and in how you feel for having chosen us to do your work, we are in the anxiety reduction business using plumbing and heating service work to do it.

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