What Chemicals Do Plumbers Use To Unblock Drains?

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It is always tempting to try to fix a blocked drain on your own, however if not done correctly, you can seriously damage your plumbing system. The upside of most DIY solutions for unclogging drains is that they are easy to do and use available materials at home. Knowing the chemical’s impact on humans and the plumbing system is the first step to take when DIY-ing. Having the right information allows you to decide which step to take next.

The most common chemicals plumbers use to unblock drains are Hydrochloric Acid 101 and sulfuric acid. The most eco-friendly way to unblock a drain is by using a combination of baking soda and vinegar. In this article, we will focus on common chemicals plumbers use for unclogging drains, why they are preferred over the others, consequences associated with using these chemicals and natural alternatives for relieving clogging in the drain pipes.


Hydrochloric Acid 101

Most blocked drain plumbers use hydrochloric acid when dealing with clogged drain pipes. More popularly known as muriatic acid, it is a component found in the stomach as part of the digestive acids. It is perfect for unclogging drains as its concentrated form is powerful to dissolve any factor causing the blockage. However, only those with a valid plumbing licence can purchase the concentrated form of hydrochloric acid in the country. 

But using concentrated muriatic acid is not advisable for homeowners. As previously mentioned, using hydrochloric acid can damage the pipe network if not done properly. Blocked drain specialists still recommend using a baking soda and vinegar solution to relieve drains of clogging. At times, even experts do not use this chemical to relieve clogging. They turn to alternative professional methods like high-pressure water cleaners, electric drain snakes and CCTV drain inspections.

Other Chemicals Used for Unclogging

Sulfuric acid is another common chemical used for unclogging blocked drains. It is preferred by property owners who do DIY repairs and blocked drain repair professionals as it is simple to use and is effective in breaking down objects causing the blockage, even in low concentrations. It also offers the following benefits:

While the use of sulfuric acid on blocked drains has been proven through the years, it also comes with some drawbacks. including:

  • Emits fumes
  • Corrosive
  • Can cause health issues, including eye and nose irritation, skin issues and even death
  • Can cause serious damage when mixed with water and other chemicals, including explosion or eruption of toxic fumes 

Where Can Hydrochloric Acid and Sulfuric Acid Be Used?

Both chemicals have been proven effective in getting rid of substances causing the blockage. But can they be used in all clogged drains? “No” is the short answer. Muriatic acid and sulfuric acid may be too strong for some drains. Using them without knowing their downsides can impact the plumbing system, as well as the health of those using the property.

For blocked toilets, concentrated sulfuric acid was found to be dangerous when used in toilets. Due to its strong impact, it could cause damaging consequences. However, unclogging products with sulfuric acid are effective. Blocked drain plumbers recommend completely emptying water on the toilet before starting the procedure. Commercially available products may no longer be effective as water in the toilet will further dilute the sulfuric acid.

When clogging affects iron pipes, it is best to stay away from using sulfuric acid and to immediately contact a plumb. The same warning goes to clogged stainless steel, aluminium chrome or galvanised steel pipes. Those dealing with a blockage in plastic pipes are safe to use sulfuric acid in relieving the blockage. Before using any chemical mixture, it is always advised to contact your local plumber to see their thoughts.

Eco-Friendly Alternatives to Unclogging Drains

There are also several remedies available to naturally unblock drains. However, these will not work for every blocked drain and major issues will require a blocked drain plumber’s assistance. Nevertheless, the following are some of the tried and tested methods to fix blocked drains:

  • Hot water – Boiling water is best in removing soap suds left in the drain pipes. It is also best when the sink is suffering from a slow drain. This DIY solution is also the easiest to do as it only requires slowly pouring a kettle of hot water on the affected sink or drain. This is the first DIY method we recommend. 
  • A mixture of baking soda and vinegar – Baking soda is a powerful ingredient in cleaning. When mixed with vinegar, the reaction as a result of their combination makes it a more effective way of unclogging drains. Pouring hot water down your drain, followed by 1/2 cup of baking soda and one cup of vinegar is the formula. Please apply and use this method with care.We generally do not recommend using this combination without the proper consultation as failing to proportion these ingredients correctly can be devastating.
  • Baking soda and salt – Those without vinegar can substitute it with salt. When combined with baking soda, it produces the same reaction as vinegar. This reaction is what makes it effective in removing grime, hair and other substances behind the clogging.
  • Clothes hanger method – A wire hanger is an effective tool in removing objects causing the blockage. It can also help break the clogs inside the pipe. 
  • Wet and dry vacuum cleaners – When all eco-friendly ways to unclog drains have been tried, suctioning can help ensure that whatever is causing the clogging can be taken out in no time.This method is best for removing deeper blockages in sinks.

These methods are not only easy to do. It also makes use of readily available materials at home. 

Sydney’s Leading  Blocked Drain Specialists!

Our team at Optimised Plumbing Services Sydney have been helping locals with a wide range of issues. We all have the needed experience and knowledge to handle all plumbing issues in residential and commercial properties. Each blocked drain specialist in our team has undergone the Certificate III in Plumbing and have personally carried out work on 1000s of blocked drains in our more than 20 years of experience. To experience why we are one of the preferred plumbers for blocked drains for Sydney locals, contact Optimised Plumbing Services today. Our emergency plumbers are also available 24/7 and can be at your location within 60 minutes if placing a call!

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