Chemical Drain-Clearing Methods
Most commercial products used for unclogging drains contain caustic and corrosive chemicals that are not only bad for you and the environment, but they are hard on your pipes as well. Chemical drain cleaners damage galvanized, PVC, iron, and copper pipes. They should never be used on any completely clogged drain because the abrasive materials can devour pipes while they sit clearing the organic materials.
Manual Drain-Clearing Methods
There are safer methods of unclogging drains. Here are a couple of things to try at the first sign of a clogged drain.
Of course, the trusty plunger is a tool that no household should be without. Sometimes all a drain needs is a few quick pumps to create enough suction on the pipe to remove the debris that is causing the obstruction. Just force the plunger down several times and then stop to test whether the water drains. Repeat the process if the drain is still stagnant. When clear, remember to run hot water so that you flush away any remaining particles in the drain.
A Drain Snake
When the plunger isn’t working you can use a plumber’s auger or drum auger.These are more commonly referred to as drain snakes. Like the plunger, these tools are quite inexpensive and they are handy to have around in case of a clog. Quite often, a drain snakes will work on close stubborn clogs that don?t respond to your plunging efforts. Here are 2 videos on how-to use both the plumber’s auger and the drum auger.
Baking Soda and Vinegar
Along with manual techniques, there are numerous other ways to clean out backed-up drains. Baking soda and vinegar can work wonders on pipes without any dangerous chemicals or damage. Pour about one-quarter cup of baking soda into the drain followed by about one-half cup of vinegar. Mixing these two substances will result in a ?boiling? reaction that harmlessly works to loosen clogged debris from pipes. Just follow-up with some hot water to clear out any remaining debris.
Enzymatic Drain Cleaners
Another alternative is to purchase an enzymatic, bacteria-based preparation sold in hardware stores. These products are all-natural, non-toxic “green” solutions that keep on working long after the initial treatment. Since this sort of treatment consists of putting live enzymes and bacteria into your pipes and plumbing system, they work by actually establishing beneficial colonies that continually consume organic matter including hair, food stuff, and soap film. To put it another way, enzymatic drain cleaners eat the yucky stuff.
These products work best when used in a maintenance capacity for preventing clogs in the first place. Mix the product with lukewarm water. Cold water restricts the growth of bacteria and hot water kills microorganisms. Put the solution into drains at night. The bacteria need several hours of water not running in order for the populations to become established. Running water will simply flush them through your system. For best results, treat drains monthly.
Chemical drain cleaners are not always the best choice. They are dangerous to store around small children and pets and they are not exactly earth-friendly. The next time your drains become slow or clogged, reach for one of the many non-chemical solutions that are available today.