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Is Drain Cleaner Bad for Pipes?

Posted on: April 17, 2018

One of the most convenient, inexpensive solutions for clogged pipes is a chemical drain cleaner, easily found at most hardware and home improvement stores. This method of repair may seem to make the most sense for homeowners who are in a hurry to resolve the issue—but the next time you reach underneath your sink for a quick fix for your clogged kitchen or bathroom drain it’s important to understand the potential immediate and long term effects to your plumbing.

Have a stubborn clogged pipe? Call Pohlman Plumbing in the Baltimore area and we’ll get right on it!


Drain cleaners rely on a caustic chemical solution to dissolve any materials which may be clogging your pipes. While this may be an effective means of clearing your drain, the chemical reaction creates heat and produces gas which can soften PVC pipes and corrode older, metal fittings, caulking, and seals. Additional areas of concern include:

  • Environmental impact – Chemical drain cleaners are harmful to the environment as residue left in containers can leach into groundwater and soil.
  • Chemical burns – In addition to the risk of inhaling harmful fumes during use there is an inherent risk of severe burns to skin, eyes, and mucous lining. Regardless of how careful you are during the application process water and chemicals may find their way back up the drain through a burst pipe, or spray those who are nearby during plunging.
  • Cost – Money spent on chemical drain cleaners is better invested in professional plumbing services or natural alternatives. Damage to pipes and septic systems can be costly to repair or replace, and the drain cleaner may not even work to clear the clog.


There are a number of safe methods you can use to try to clear the occasional clog including the following:

Plunging A Clogged Pipe

You may have success dislodging the source of the clog by creating pressure with a plunger using these steps:

  • Remove the pop up drain or stopper
  • Cover up any other holes such as the overflow drain or adjoining sink drain with a wet cloth
  • Place the cup of the plunger over the drain hole, and run enough water to cover the rubber surface
  • Apply pressure and plunge up and down vigorously for approximately 20 seconds
  • Pull the plunger straight up and away to create further suction and see if the water drains away
  • Repeat if needed

Unclog Drain DIY

Make your own non-corrosive, natural drain cleaner using common household products such as vinegar and baking soda. Begin by sprinkling one-half cup of baking soda down the drain and adding an equal amount of vinegar. Top this mixture off with several cups of boiling or very hot water, taking care not to splash, and give the solution time to work.

Professional Plumbing Repair 

For safe, reliable, efficient clearing of your drains, trust the experts at Pohlman Plumbing. We will quickly locate the source of the clog and work to remove it, using the right tools and methods for a quick, effective resolution.


Call Pohlman Plumbing for all your plumbing needs at 443-961-2886, or contact us online to schedule an appointment. All our work is backed by our Pohlman Promise: Fast service at a fair price, done right the first time!

Meet the Pohlman Team

Baltimore Plumbers You Can Trust Since 2008