Flow Restoration: Effective Strategies for Unclogging Drains

Clogged drains can cause a huge mess. Preventing them requires good drain habits and routine maintenance using safe products.

drain cleaning

Whether from hair strands, grease, non-flushable waste or accidentally flushed items, clogs can be annoying and dangerous. Knowing when to call for professional Philadelphia Drain Cleaning can help you avoid costly repairs.

A drain cleaner is an industrial-strength chemical that attacks a clog to dissolve it and allow water to flow freely again. Liquid, gel, foam, crystal, and powder cleaners all differ in formulation but typically contain bases or acids that attack organic materials like hair, grease, and paper. Most liquid drain cleaners start working on contact and, when allowed to sit for a few minutes or more, can disintegrate even the most stubborn blockages that include hair, grease, and food debris. They are easy to use, just pour down the drain and wait for the clog to be cleared.

Acidic chemical drain cleaners, which are usually only available to professional plumbers, have a very strong pH and can burn your skin and eyes, as well as damage your pipes. They work by creating a chemical reaction that generates heat within the pipe walls to melt and dissolve materials like congealed grease. This type of drain cleaner is only recommended for the most severe clogs, as repeated use can damage the plastic polyvinyl chloride (PVC) pipes that are commonly found in modern homes. It can also cause the joints that connect the pipes to leak, requiring replacement.

If you must use a chemical drain cleaner, follow the directions closely and be sure to wear rubber gloves and goggles to protect your eyes and skin. These products are also very hazardous to the environment if they seep into groundwater or soil, where they can contaminate drinking water and harm plants and animals.

In addition, many chemical drain cleaners rely on a strong acidic substance such as hydrochloric acid (muriatic acid) to create the necessary reaction inside your pipes. This can corrode or break down the PVC pipes that are common in modern homes, and may even damage older metal pipes.

If you’re looking for a safer alternative to chemical drain cleaners, try an enzyme-based product that relies on bacteria cultures and concentrated enzymes to break down waste. These natural cleaners are much more environmentally friendly, and can often clear clogs just as effectively as the harsh chemicals. However, they usually take a bit longer to work, and require you to not flush anything down the drain for several hours afterward.

Biological Drain Cleaners

Unlike caustic chemical cleaners, biological drain cleaners don’t use any harsh materials to eat through a clog. Instead, they introduce bacteria into your plumbing system that consumes organic waste and removes it from the pipes. Bio drain cleaners are safe for all types of pipes, and they don’t damage or corrode them like their chemical counterparts. They’re also safer for people, pets and the environment.

Biological cleaners come in liquid and dry powder form, and both work the same way. When mixed with water, they create billions of tiny bacteria that begin eating away at the organic waste in your pipes and drains. The bacterial colonies double every 30 minutes, quickly eating through anything in their path and leaving your pipes clean and smelling fresh. Unlike chemical cleaners, they’re safe for kids and pets and don’t leave behind any residue or odor.

Enzyme drain cleaners are another option, but they don’t eat through a clog the same way biological cleaners do. Instead, they liquefy fats, oils and greases (FOG) so that they can pass through your pipes and sewer system without solidifying. This process can take a while, and it may not be as effective for all types of pipes or septic systems.

When using a biological drain cleaner, it’s important to follow the instructions carefully. Most products require that you pour the solution down a drain when it won’t be used for six to eight hours. This gives the bacteria time to start working on the clog before you need to use your drain again. Many also recommend running hot water down the drain afterward to flush out any remaining bacteria and waste and prevent the clog from returning. Performing regular maintenance treatments with biological drain cleaners can keep your home’s plumbing working smoothly and reduce the need for expensive repairs.

Chemical Drain Cleaners

Chemical drain cleaners are much more powerful than liquid drain cleaners and operate through a process of chemical reactions that donate or receive electrons from the substance creating the clog. This chemical reaction produces heat that can melt or dissolving the clog. However, chemical drain cleaners do come with many safety concerns including a potential for harming pipes, posing health risks and emitting harsh fumes.

Most chemical drain cleaners require that the user follow a specific set of instructions to use safely. These typically include running hot water down the drain for at least 15 minutes after using the chemical cleaner. This helps to flush out any remaining chemicals and prevents them from damaging the pipes. Most chemical drain cleaners also have a warning label that advises users to wear rubber gloves and eye protection. These precautions help to prevent the chemicals from coming into contact with the skin or eyes and can prevent serious chemical burns.

Another important consideration is that most chemical drain cleaners produce a lot of heat during their chemical reactions. This heat can melt or warp plastic pipes and cause metal ones to corrode over time. It’s also important to consider if your home has a septic system, as the chemicals can kill the bacteria that naturally breaks down organic waste in your septic tank.

While chemical drain cleaners can be effective for some clogs, they are not recommended for most. Most reputable plumbers will recommend that you try more natural methods before resorting to chemical drain cleaners. These include using a drain snake or plunger. These tools are often more successful at removing severe clogs than liquid drain cleaners and can be much safer to use.

In addition, if you have used chemical drain cleaners in your home before calling for professional services, be sure to let the plumber know. This will help them better determine what the underlying problem is and how best to solve it. It will also ensure that the plumber uses safe and appropriate methods when working on your pipes.


For serious drain clogs that a plunger simply can’t handle, you need a power alternative like a snake. The kind of snake you buy for a few bucks at the hardware store can’t compete with the powerful, highly specialised (and extremely expensive) drain snakes used by professional plumbers every day — but for simple, shallow blockages, they work just fine.

A basic drain snake consists of a long coil of metal wires attached to a crank on one end. You feed the end of the snake into your clogged pipe, and you crank the handle to push the snake down the pipe, jiggling it and applying pressure when needed to help the snake get around tight bends. The metal tines on the tip of the snake can break up and entangle soft blockages, while the hooks can grab hair and other debris.

Using a snake is far less invasive than using chemical cleaners, and you can use it multiple times without fear of damage to your pipes. It’s also much cheaper than calling in a professional plumber, and it can save you the cost of purchasing and using chemical drain cleaners.

If you want to avoid costly clogs in the future, invest in a quality sink strainer that can catch larger items of food and prevent them from entering your drain pipes in the first place. Also, always throw away garbage in a trashcan instead of dumping it down the drain, and never flush paper products down the toilet.

It’s important to learn how to use a snake before a stubborn drain problem gets out of hand, because you may not have access to a professional plumber in a hurry. Besides, being able to slither a snake through your drains yourself will be far more cost-effective than buying and using a lot of expensive chemical cleaners. It’s also a good idea to know how to use a snake for preventative maintenance, because stubborn drain clogs can strike at any time. And of course, it’s always better to avoid them altogether by practicing good plumbing habits.