Drano – the all-American chemical drain cleaner was introduced in 1923, and is formulated to clear clogs.
It eats away quickly at softened grease and clogs in pipes in your home by generating intense heat at near boiling temperatures and several chemical reactions happen until the clog dissolves.
But ask any professional plumber if Drano is good for your pipes and plumbing problems, and the answer you’re most likely to get is absolutely not!
The chemical action of Drano can help temporarily release clogs in your clogged drain, dirty drain, garbage disposal drains and toilet bowls, including ceramic toilet bowls and porcelain toilets, and other types of drains like in your bathroom sinks and kitchen sinks.
But on the downside Drano can create toxic fumes and these harmful fumes and the chemical reaction can cause significant damage to pipes including plastic pipes, PVC pipes and galvanized metal pipes over time, leading to expensive repairs.
So the big questions are does using Drano cause damage to pipes, how does Drano cause damage to pipes, and tips on pipe maintenance.
To answer briefly, the ingredients in Drano cause a strong chemical reaction that removes clogged material from drains but can damage your pipes and other things in your home that pipes are linked to, such as heat pumps and tankless water heaters, so they may eventually break.
What are the Ingredients in Drano?
Drano offers a long lineup of products, each featuring a slightly different ingredient list. But here are the most common ingredients in Drano.
- Sodium hypochlorite
Commonly referred to as bleach, sodium hypochlorite is an oxidizing agent, which oxidizes the upper layer of the plastic.
Sodium hypochlorite is often used as a cleaning agent but when you pour it down your bathroom sink through Drano can cause damage such as corroded pipes over time.
With regards to how much time it takes for sodium hypochlorite to damage your pipes, it depends on the type of pipe.
PVC pipes do not get damaged easily by sodium hypochlorate, but the damage is inevitable over the long term.
Sodium hypochlorite can also cause skin irritation and allergies, and in worse cases can damage your vision.
- Sodium hydroxide (lye)
Generally used to produce soaps, dyes, and petroleum products, sodium hydroxide produces heat when it reacts with the other chemicals in Drano, resulting in warped pipes over time.
Further, caustic chemicals such as sodium hydroxide can corrode organic tissue, and cause painful burns when in contact with your skin, and inhaling this chemical can affect your lungs.
- Sodium silicate
Each Drano bottle of chemical drain cleaner includes sodium silicate, which, just like sodium hypochlorite, is corrosive in nature.
Sodium silicate is also found in most laundry detergents and prevents household surfaces such as drainaige areas and faucets from corrosion.
Water serves as a liquid base for each product.
How Does Drano Work?
Most Drano drain cleaners also contain aluminum, and salt, which cause several chemical reactions simultaneously when they react with the other chemicals in the product in your clogged toilet or clogged sink.
The lye in Drano takes the lead and decomposes all the organic material in the pipes, after which the aluminum reacts with the lye, which increases the temperature to near-boiling temperatures to accelerate the decomposition process.
The Chemical Reaction Explained
The lye in this chemical cleaning product also reacts with the grease in sinks and produces a soapy substance (soap making hydrogen bubbles) that dissolves the clogged matter, and makes way for the hot water to wash it away. The hot water dissolves the remaining chemicals in your drain.
Why You Shouldn’t Use Drano?
While all this may sound like an intriguing process to get rid of clogged materials, there’s a few big problems it can cause.
- First and most importantly, let’s talk health! Drano can dissolve any organic matter, but can cause serious damage if it comes in contact with your skin and eyes.
- Drano is corrosive in nature, and can melt PVC pipes and deteriorate the silicone sealant or plumbers putty that seals the pipes.
- Using Drano in toilet bowls, has been known to cause them to crack, and leave you with an inoperable plumbing system, and costly repairs.
- Plus, if you use this range of dangerous drain cleaners with a plunger or drain snake to settle your clogged drain woes, drops of chemical drain cleaner can splash out of the area and burn your eyes, skin and lungs.
- But that’s not all, even after Drano exits your plumbing system, Drano remains and can contaminate your local water supply, causing harm to you, pets and members of your household, which is why plumbers advise against using Drano.
- If your property uses a septic tank, it is not advisable to use these types of products. Although Drano states that it is safe to do so, many experts say that it can shorten the life of a septic tank, and warn against using it in these situations.
How to Clear a Clogged Drain Without Drano?
Certain foods and substances such as eggshells, grease and oil do not break down easily, and tend to accumulate in your pipes and create clogs in your drains over time.
And even though the first solution that comes to mind when it comes to clogged drains is to use the Drano or liquid plumr that’s lurking in your cabinet, not so fast, because you now know the serious damage Drano can do to your pipes and your health.
The good news is that there are several great alternatives to Drano, some that are readily available in your home.
3 Drano Alternatives
1. Use a wire coat hanger
Well, it’s time to go fishing – in the drain that is! Grab a coat hanger, and straighten it out as much as possible.
Next, bend one side of the hanger to create a hook, push it in the drain and pull out all the hair, toilet paper and other substances. Lastly, run hot tap water to clear the drain.
2. Clear clogs with plumbing tools such as a plunger or drain-cleaning auger aka drain snake
There are several kinds of plungers available including a cup plunger and flange plunger, and you can use any type to release most clogs without generating heat.
How to use a plunger?
As easy as it may seem, most homeowners do not know how to use a plunger correctly, but here’s how to use this trusty household staple.
- Before using a plunger, you should prepare for a mess, so put on some gloves, cover the floor with some rags or paper towels, and keep a garbage pail handy.
- It’s a good idea to check the water level in the toilet, and add water if there’s not enough standing water and remove if you think the water will overflow when you use the plunger.
- Here’s where you need to pay attention! Insert the pluger into the toilet bowl at a 45-degree angle, so that it retains more air and generates more pressure downwards.
- Once the plunger is submerged in the water, and covering the hole at the bottom to form a tight seal, push downward with a gentle thrust at least a few times until you see the water level go down.
- While pushing down, ensure that you maintain a seal, after which you can remove the plunger and check the clog.
3. Use baking soda and vinegar as a drain cleaner
Baking soda is a naturally occurring crystalline chemical substance that when mixed with vinegar can help clear clogs.
To make this mixture, add 1/3 cup of baking soda with 1/3 cup vinegar, and shake well. Pour this mixture immediately down the drain, and the fizzing that occurs as a result with help break down the gunk in drains in homes including DFW homes and construction homes.
A leading skilled plumber and many south end plumbers recommend leaving this mixture to sit for any hour, or even better overnight, and then flushing it with hot water.
You can also pour some dry baking soda powered down the plumbing component of your drain and chase it down with vinegar to resolve your plumbing issues.
After you’ve let the baking soda and vinegar mixture rest in the drain, pour some boiling water in two stages, and give the hot water a few seconds between each pour.
Baking soda and vinegar aren’t corrosive substances and do not generate high heat, which can damage your drain or pipes, allowing you to resolve your plumbing issue easily.
Final Thoughts on Clearing Your Plumbing System Of Clogs
Combinations of or single chemical drain cleaners harm your health, which is a good reason to steer clear of them to begin with.
They contain harsh chemicals like sodium hydroxide, sodium nitrate, sodium chloride, and variations of sodium hydroxide that do more than good to your pipes and your overall health.
Liquid Drano has the ability to clear a blocked drain, but is the most common lye-based drain cleaning product available, but generates heat and can cause severe damage to your drain pipes.