At some point in your life as a homeowner or renter, you will be tempted to try and solve plumbing problems yourself. But if you try DIY sewer drain cleaning hoping to get a whistle-clean drainage system out of it, you could end up regretting not calling in the professionals right away.
DIY drain cleaning solutions might provide a temporary fix, but they're unlikely to be effective for the longer term — and sometimes they even cause more problems than they solve.
How does drain cleaner work?
Drain cleaners that you can buy and pour down your drain work by using chemicals to break down substances inside your drain. These products are either alkaline or acid-based.
Alkaline cleaners do the job by meeting substances, like hair and grease, and causing a heat reaction that softens the clog, potentially helping it to dislodge. Acid-based cleaners work in a similar way but are a lot harsher and more dangerous, especially if they make contact with your skin or eyes. Again, they sometimes succeed by creating a reaction, provoking heat and gas, and encouraging the blockage to move along.
These drain cleaners don't always work, however. They are a bit of a shot in the dark because while you know there's some kind of blockage in your pipes, you don't know where the blockage is or what it consists of. You could pour acids and alkalines down your drain for days and still not get the clear drain you're looking for.
Why you shouldn't rely on general drain cleaner
The problem with general drain cleaner is that it's either enzyme-based and will make slow progress (if any) on your drain's blockage or will skip the blockage entirely. DIY drain cleaners are effective sometimes, but they're inexact. They're not going to zero in on the cause of your drainage problem. They don't know what they're looking for.
Drain cleaners, because they're designed to use chemicals to react with substances, are also often harsh solutions. They're dangerous in the wrong hands, need to be used with safety precautions, and can even be harmful to the insides of your drainage system. If you're looking for a plastic drain cleaner or septic drain cleaner, you may not find anything suitable in your local hardware store. Some materials are just super sensitive and need to be treated by professionals to avoid damage.
The main reason you shouldn't rely on a general drain cleaner is that you don't have to. Instead of spending hours trekking to the store, locating a decent drain cleaner, and pouring rounds of it hopefully down your sink, you could be getting a regular sewer drain cleaning service that takes the problem off your plate entirely.
How to do DIY sewer drain cleaning the right way
All that said, if you really want to try flushing out your drainage system by yourself, there are some tools and techniques that work better than general drain cleaner.
Natural solutions are easier and safer to use than store-bought chemical ones. Boiling water with some vinegar and baking soda creates a homemade version of store-bought cleaners and can help to flush recent substances, like the oil from the dinner pan.
Another option involves investing in plastic drain cleaners, cleaning tools that you can snake down your drain and use to catch hair and debris before they cause blockages. These are less harsh than chemical solutions and can take the edge off the problem of maintaining a clean drain.
While the above tips can help keep your drains clearer and cleaner, the best solution is to set up regular check-ins with a drain cleaning business. Save the trouble and money of waiting until your pipes are clogged, causing leaks, or making bad smells.
If you're looking for professional drain cleaners in the Pittsburgh area, we're ready to help. Get in touch today!