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Drain cleaner

Drain cleaner is a chemical used to dissolve clogs to unblock pipes, such as the drainpipes of sinks, bathtubs, toilets, and showers. It is generally a corrosive chemical such as a concentrated acid or caustic, or is an enzymatic substance. It is most often used after a plunger has not been sufficient to remove the clog.

Drain cleaner should only be used according to the manufacturer's specifications, as improper use may damage skin, lungs or eyes. Strongly corrosive, drain cleaners are one of the most hazardous household products available to the public.


Types of drain cleaners

There are six major types of drain cleaners sold today.

Caustic liquid

The most common type are liquid caustic solutions containing sodium hypochlorite NaClO(bleach), sodium hydroxide (lye), or potassium hydroxide in concentrations up to 40 percent. These are used to dissolve grease and hair clogs.

Caustic solid

A more concentrated caustic drain cleaner consists of solid granules of sodium hydroxide or potassium hydroxide. These are also used for hair and grease clogs.

Enzymatic cleaners

The third type are the liquid solutions containing bacteria cultures and enzymes that gradually eat away the organic material on pipes that cause slow drains. Most of these are generally not capable of freeing completely clogged drainpipes, but are rather used as routine maintenance for proper flow. However bacterial enzymatic products with very high concentrations of bacteria are emerging which can clear blocked drains in less than one hour. These products are also completely safe and effective for use in toilets, bathtub/showers, garbage disposals, and septic systems.

Acid liquid

A different type includes liquid solutions containing sulfuric acid, usually in concentrations around 95 percent. These are very corrosive and hazardous if misused, and often create intense heat that can cause the water in the drain to boil, creating a violent eruption from the drain. These acidic cleaners are often the only products that will effectively dissolve paper, rags, sanitary napkins, and similar blockages. Many of these products are intended for professional use by plumbers and janitors, but are legal to sell to the general public in the US, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, despite much debate during the last few decades.

Air burst cleaners

The fifth type of drain cleaner uses forcibly accelerated CO2 (carbon dioxide), air or other gas to physically dislodge clogs. Accelerated gas may instantly clear the clog, in contrast to chemical solutions that may take minutes or hours to work.

High pressure water jetting

This should only be carried out by a competent engineer with jet of water up to 4000 psi and will also clean the drain so blockage is less likely to reoccur.

Usage caution

Caustic and acidic drain cleaners should never be used in combination, as they would neutralise one another, rendering them ineffective, and may also be expected to generate considerable heat and large quantities of gas. This may cause a violent eruption from the drain, and may be otherwise hazardous in and of itself. The mixing may cause severe injury to exposed eye and other tissue, as well as damage to porcelain tubs/showers and toilets.

See Household chemicals. Popular brands of drain cleaner include Unique Drano, Floweasy, Kleer Drain, Instant Power, Liquid Fire, Liquid Plumr, Roebic, Rooto, and Hercules/Cloroben.

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Drain_cleaner". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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