The best and worst products for unclogging your sink

March 23rd, 2021

When a sink clogs or is painfully slow to drain, it’s natural for homeowners to jump to the quickest solution to clear the drain. While commercial clog drainers are deceptively good at clearing the clog in a jiffy, they can leave you with a bigger problem in the long run. As such, the quickest method isn’t always the best solution when considering the damage these toxic chemicals can cause to your plumbing and the environment.

What is the best way to unclog your sink, then? In this article, the plumbing experts at Plomberie Richard et Fils in L’Île-Perrot, Quebec offer their insights into the best and worst products for unclogging your sink.

The worst products for unclogging your sink

Chemical drain cleaners are hands-down the worst product to use to unclog your sink. You might get quick results and a cleared drain, but the long-term damage to your plumbing will cause you much bigger and more expensive problems in the future. There are serious health and environmental risks associated with the use of these toxins, as well.

Let’s have a look at why chemical drain cleaners should be avoided at all costs.

1.   Chemicals damage your pipes + fixtures

Whether you chose a gel, liquid, foam, crystal or powder form, all chemical drain cleaners generate heat through a chemical reaction with water to unclog the blockage. While the heat is great at liquifying most blockages including hair and grease, the corrosive heat also does a number on your sink, shower and tub pipes. Plastic or older metal pipes are especially susceptible to damage from chemical drain cleaners.

The acids contained in chemical drain cleaners are also harmful to the enamel and finishes on your plumbing fixtures and finishes, especially enamel-based finishes found on most sinks, tubs and showers.

Unless you have concrete plans to replace your plumbing and fixtures in the very near future, don’t be tempted by the convenience and cost of chemical drain cleaners – they will cost you more in the end.

2.   The health hazards are not worth it

If we didn’t have you at “heat producing chemical reaction” in the paragraph above, just consider the fumes and smoke, literal smoke that floats out of a drain that is being treated with a chemical drain cleaner.  Breathing in these fumes can have serious health consequences.

In a similar vein, skin burns and irritation are another potential risk associated with using chemical drain cleaners to unclog a blocked drain.

3.   Consider the environmental impact

The fact that you are pouring these chemicals down your drain when clearing a clog means that they are going out with your waste water. Chemical residue will also be in the packaging that you dispose of when emptied. Whether down the drain, or out with the trash, small concentrations of chemical drain cleaners will make their way into our groundwater: a place they don’t belong.

4.   Not always the right solution anyway

Health, infrastructure and environmental hazards aside, chemical drain cleaners aren’t always able to solve your problem if the clog can’t be “melted away.” Drains are sometimes clogged by problems such as tree roots farther down the plumbing line, for example. In this case, professionals need to help identify the source of the blockage and no amount of toxic drain cleaner will solve the root of the problem. (Sorry, we couldn’t resist the pun!)

The best tools for unclogging your sink

As you can see, the use of chemical drain cleaners that you can buy at hardware and grocery stores is not the best way to unclog your sink for a number of reasons. So what is the best way?

What tools do I need to unclog my sink?

Your fingers

Yes. If you have drains that clog repeatedly in your sink, tub, or shower, use your fingers to solve the problem. Using your fingers will help you:

  • save your pipes and fixtures from damage
  • decrease health risks from harsh chemicals
  • prevent harsh toxins from being released into the environment and groundwater
  • identify the cause of the problem so it doesn’t happen again

We’re serious! When you have a recurring clog or slow draining sink, tub or shower, use your fingers to call in a professional plumber. (See what we did there?!)  With their expertise and specialized tools, a plumbing team will be able to help you identify the cause of your clogs and solve it in a safe and sustainable manner.

At Plomberie Richard et Fils, all of our plumbers are experts at unclogging drains, no matter how stubborn it is. Serving Montreal’s west island and surrounding area, we offer emergency 24/7 service and free quotes for residential, commercial and industrial plumbing needs. Don’t hesitate to call us the next time you have a clogged drain – we’re here to help!

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