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Unblocking Drains With Chemicals; How to Clear Blocked Drains Safely

16th October 2018

Unblocking Drains With Chemicals; How to Clear Blocked Drains Safely

Blocked drains happen. We can reduce the amount of blockages that occur by treating our drains with due care and not flushing anything that could cause a blockage, but we should also be mindful of harmful substances going down our drains. We've talked about the effects of Fat, Grease and Oils, but today the focus is on unblocking drains with chemicals.


Chemicals and the effects on drains

The idea behind using chemicals is that they will be able to dissolve any blockages in the drains, however this isn't always a simple matter. As you cannot see the blockage in the drain you have no idea of the size or what it consists of, which can all affect how well over the counter drain unblockers can work (or not). Using Caustic Soda, for example, can be very hit and miss. Not only is it a very harmful substance, one you do not want to get on your skin or in your eyes, it requires hot running water to be at all effective. If it comes up against a solid blockage it will not be able to help and if it comes into contact with cold water it will solidify and then you just have a bigger blockage that has now become a Health and Safety Risk for the person tackling the blocked drain afterwards.

It can be very tempting to throw in a different unblocker if the first doesn't work, but this can also be very dangerous. Mixing chemicals, even those safely sold in supermarkets, is a tricky business and you could end up causing a reaction that leads to harmful fumes.

Bleach is probably the most frequently used chemical in drainage, because many of us are in the habit of bleaching our toilets to clean them. We mustn't forget that bleach is another harmful substance and prolonged usage of it can be bad news for drains and it should never be poured neat down sinks.


Health and Safety

It might seem like a cost effective solution to avoid calling a plumber or drainage engineer out for a kitchen or bathroom sink blockage, but we quite often get called out after these remedies have been tried and failed. Caustic soda especially can add to the issue and cause a bigger blockage that will require our equipment and skills to remove, however we do need to know going into the job if chemicals have been used. All of our engineers carry Personal Protective Equipment as standard and providing they have been given the full picture of what to expect lurking within the pipes they can protect themselves accordingly. If you have called us out please do be frank about what you've tried to unblock your drains with as it can directly affect the engineers.  Even a small splash can burn the skin.


Environmental Impact

Anything we flush down the drain has an impact on our waterways, which is why it is so important to watch what we flush or pour down the toilet or sink. Foul water systems are carried to water treatment plants in order to be cleaned before it is returned to the river and other waterways. The more chemicals we add to our foul water, the harder we have to work to clean the water. This means that if we put bleach or caustic materials down the drain we are adding further work for our water treatment plants and making it more likely that our waterways could become contaminated with toxic materials.


Alternatives to Chemicals

There are alternatives to chemicals; below are a selection we found online and there are more contained in this link. As with all DIY follow instructions carefully and safely and if in doubt call the professionals!

  • Boiling water; this will dissolve some small clogs, however you might need several kettles full to make an impact and it can just move blockages further down where they will re-block as they solidify and prolonged use can damage PVC pipes
  • Baking soda and white vinegar; mixed together this creates a fizzy reaction that can help with more stubborn blockages--just remember to cover the drain opening and flush it through afterwards
  • Baking soda and salt; this is another mixture that creates a reaction with the ability to shift stubborn drain blockages

Remember, if you have a blocked sink or toilet and aren't sure what to do about it, we are always ready to assist you to unblock your drains. You can contact our office for advice any time or to book us to come out and clear your drains.

If you require the services of Metro Rod you can get in touch with us in a variety of ways;

You can go to our website

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You can call us on 01869 277702

or you can connect with our sales and marketing team on LinkedIn


Talk to you local metrorod specialist

Talk to your local Metro Rod specialist

We are always happy to arrange a free site assessment and no obligation quotations for any work you might need. Alternatively, you can call our emergency hotline number on 0800 66 88 00

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