Most of us, when faced with a pesky slow drain or clogged sink, have been tempted to use a chemical drain cleaner at one time or other. What could be easier than opening a bottle and pouring the contents down the drain? Jake the Plumber doesn’t recommend any of these products, and here’s why.

pH Scale Plumbing Saint Paul MN


These are dangerous liquids. A refresher on high-school chemistry helps understand how they work. Remember your science teacher talking about pH? pH stands for the “power of hydrogen” – all you need to know is that it reads on a scale of 1 to 14. Less than 7 is acidic, and more than 7, the substance is “basic” or “base”.

Drain Cleaner Liquid Plumbing Twin Cities MNThe products you buy at the big box stores are usually base – making them slightly less dangerous, but more abrasive. They work by scouring out your pipes. Stay away from these products for the health of your plumbing.

HCL Plumbing St Paul MNOther liquids are acidic – on the order of hydrochloric acid, muriatic acid, and others. You may be able to find acidic drain cleaners at smaller hardware stores, but stay away from them. These products are even more dangerous and cannot be mixed with any other household cleaners, ESPECIALLY bleach. Acid mixed with ordinary bleach produces toxic fumes.  A drip or splash on exposed skin will cause a burn. There’s a reason these products aren’t sold in most stores anymore.

A better DIY drain cleaning first step would be a SNAKE… and I’ll talk about those next week.

– Deb Axness

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2 Response Comments

  • Curran  May 22, 2017 at 4:24 PM

    Can you use baking soda and hot boiling water to clear clogs?

    • Deb Axness  May 25, 2017 at 4:53 PM

      That would be perfect – a bit of vinegar and baking soda, with very hot water, will often clear up sluggish drains. This combination is safe for all plumbing, will not eat away your plumbing, and is safe for the person doing the work also. Put a teakettle’s (or two) worth of boiling water down the drain to help slow drains!