Breaking Down Types of Chemical Drain Cleaners

drain cleaners

Identifying different types of chemical drain cleaners

Acids

Acid drain cleaners typically contain sulfuric acid or hydrochloric acid. The chemical reaction between the acid and the blockage materials, along with the heat released by the reaction (‘heat of solution’), serves to break down the blockage. The use of personal protective equipment (PPE) is recommended when handling acid drain cleaners. This includes wearing goggles or a face shield and rubber gloves.

Acid drain cleaners are poured into the drain and allowed to sit for several minutes while working. Carefully follow all of the manufacturer’s instructions on the label and any enclosed literature—store unused chemicals in a container with a child-proof closure. Keep chemicals away from children and other unauthorized users.

Follow the manufacturer’s directions for safe disposal. If acid drain cleaner is accidentally spilled on a person or it gets into the mouth or eyes, follow these first aid instructions:

Skin – Wash immediately with copious amounts of water

Eyes – Flush immediately with water for 15 minutes. Remove contact lenses after 5 minutes if applicable

If Swallowed – Drink water and do not induce vomiting

Call a doctor or poison control center.

Caustics

Caustic drain cleaners typically contain caustic soda, sodium hydroxide, lye, and other such compounds. Caustic drain cleaners work similarly to acid drain cleaners in that they cause a reaction. With caustic drain cleaners, hydroxide ions cause the reaction in which alkaline chemicals convert grease into a water-soluble soap-like substance.

Caustic drain cleaners are available in both liquid and powder forms. Liquid forms are usually made of dissolved sodium hydroxide, which makes them heavier than water—this aids in getting the cleaner to the clog. Powdered cleaners usually contain sodium hydroxide and aluminum particles which release small quantities of hydrogen gas. Caustic drain cleaners need to be located close to the blockage and be chemically reactive, with the material forming the clog to perform well.

Carefully follow all of the manufacturer’s instructions on the label and any enclosed literature—store unused chemicals in a container with a child-proof closure. Keep chemicals away from children and other unauthorized users.

Follow the manufacturer’s directions for safe disposal. If caustic drain cleaner is accidentally spilled on a person or it gets into the mouth or eyes, follow these first aid instructions:

Skin – Wash immediately with copious amounts of water.

Eyes – Flush immediately with water for 15 minutes. Remove contact lenses after 5 minutes if applicable

If swallowed – drink water and do not induce vomiting

Call a doctor or poison control center

Oxidizing Drain Cleaners

Oxidizing agents include peroxides, hypochlorites, chlorates, and perchlorates, and when they react with the blockage material, they acquire electrons from the organic compounds that make up the clog. This reaction can be quite vigorous and may release heat and gases.

Carefully follow all of the manufacturer’s instructions on the label and any enclosed literature—store unused chemicals in a container with a child-proof closure. Keep chemicals away from children and other unauthorized users.

Follow the manufacturer’s directions for safe disposal. If caustic drain cleaner is accidentally spilled on a person or it gets into the mouth or eyes, follow these first aid instructions:

Skin – Wash immediately with copious amounts of water.

Eyes – Flush immediately with water for 15 minutes. Remove contact lenses after 5 minutes if applicable.

If Swallowed – Drink water and do not induce vomiting

Call a doctor or poison control center.

Enzymatic

Enzymatic drain cleaners metabolize materials in the blockage using biological and enzymatic chemical reactions. They are formulated using bacterial cultures and enzyme preparations. They are generally slower than acid, caustic, and oxidizing cleaners, and they only work on organic materials. They do not produce thermal effects to the degree that the other chemical drain cleaners do.

Most manufacturers warn of harm from skin or eye contact and swallowing, even though enzymatic drain cleaners are non-corrosive. All manufacturer’s warnings and instructions must be closely followed.

Mechanical Drain Cleaners

In commercial and institutional facilities, drain systems are larger and more complex than in homes, and mechanical drain cleaners are widely used. It is often necessary to reach a clog that is quite a distance from the cleaning access point. Also, commercial drain cleaning applications frequently involve larger diameter piping which requires more aggressive cleaning methods. Also, many of the obstructions found in commercial drain systems are not organic in nature, so they do not lend themselves to chemical cleaning.

Hand Operated Drain Augers

Hand-operated drain augers are useful for clearing clogs in drains of sinks, showers, and toilets. They have limited reach, however, and are limited in power to the strength of the user. Augers are useful for retrieving blockages that cannot be broken up or dissolved, such as fabric. They use a spring-like cable with various cleaning heads mounted on the end.

Motor-Driven Drain Augers

Motor-driven drain augers come in various sizes and types, ranging from those driven with a handheld electric drill to fully automated dolly-mounted units. With some motor-driven drain augers, the cable is fed manually, and the motor provides the cable rotation. These units can deliver a large amount of torque and remove stubborn clogs – even tree roots. Other motor-driven drain augers have a mechanism that feeds the cable into the drain and provides cable rotation. These are the types of machines used by professional plumbers and drain cleaning contractors. They require significant training and can be dangerous in the hands of a novice.

Pulse Jetter Drain Cleaner

Pulse jetters are an outgrowth of the pressure washer industry. Early pulse jetters were composed of a standard pressure washer of about 1000 PSI fitted with a drain cleaning hose and nozzle. Today’s pulse jetters are specifically made to clean drains. Their pumps are equipped with a special valve that allows the operator to disable one pump cylinder, thereby creating pressure pulses that effectively break up blockages and assist in maneuvering the nozzle through traps and tees. Special nozzles are available for going around corners, piercing blockages, and propelling the nozzle down the pipe using water pressure.

Pulse jetters are very useful for preventive drain maintenance programs where regular, scheduled drain cleaning is performed to keep drainage systems operating efficiently without the risks and dangers of chemical drain cleaners.

Next Steps:

See our full line of industrial drain cleaners:

Leave a comment





*

Submit Comment

© Goodway Technologies, 2022. All rights reserved. Just Venting is powered by Backbone Media, Inc.