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The article addresses if Drano harms pipes.  Al’s Plumbing, Heating & A/C in Plano, Texas provides maintenance & repairs for all brands of Central A/C, Gas & Electric Furnace, and Heat Pumps.  Additionally, we sell and install new HVAC Systems from American Standard (same company as Trane), Ameristar (same company as American Standard), and Coleman HVAC (same company as York HVAC).

Al’s also provides full-service plumbing maintenance, repairs, and replacements for every plumbing component in your home.  Al’s sells and installs Rheem Professional Series gas & electric water heaters, and tankless water heaters.  Al’s is near your home in Plano, Garland, and Richardson.  We service all homes in southern Collin County with no additional travel charges.

Call Al’s today to discuss any concerns about your Plumbing or HVAC System.  We’ll arrange an appointment at your convenience.

Will Drano Harm Pipes?

  • This article sets the record straight about chemical drain cleaners’ risks to sewer pipes (made of different materials).  We show the sources for what we say. 
  • Additionally, we discuss the risks chemical drain cleaners pose to you if; splashed onto your skin, into your eyes, or if you breath in air saturated with their fumes (saturated fumes are not likely with chemical drain cleaners — when used as directed).

Amy Matthews, a licensed contractor in Minneapolis and host of “Bathroom Renovations” on the DIY Network says: “Don’t use chemical drain cleaners. They’re dangerous to people and pipes — and horrible for the environment.  Even the ones that say ‘won’t damage pipes — will damage pipes.”

Try using a plunger.  If that doesn’t work, try an auger.  A plunger loosens the clog — allowing it to move down the drain.  An auger twists into the clog and breaks it up.”  Seal overflow holes with tape in order to use a plunger (otherwise the pressure it creates exits the overflow hole instead).  Plungers with flat bases are for sinks and tubs.  Plungers with rounded bases are for toilets.

If more than one drain is backed up — call a professional plumber or sewer and drain cleaner.  The best way to deal with clogs is prevention.

Follow These Rules:

  • Only; Water, Natural Waste, and Toilet Paper — go into sewer pipes.
  • Cooking oil & grease will cool & harden midway through your pipes — then stick to the pipe’s walls.
  • Put oils & greases in a jar, or cottage cheese container (or similar) — and place it in the garbage.
  • A garbage disposal isn’t a trash can.  It’s intended for minimal waste removal — such as extra bits of food left on plates.
  • Plus, disposer struggle with fibrous materials.  Thow potato skins and vegetables in the trash.”

Source: https://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/24/garden/24fix.html

  • Do Regular Pipes Maintenance with a (natural, non-chemical) Enzymatic Drain Cleaner. 
  • These remove only organic materials — like sewer sludge (which is often what clogs pipes).
  • Sewer pipes aren’t organic.
  • One of the most economical and widely available enzymatic drain maintainers is Rid-X.
  • Though originally marketed to maintain septic tanks — it works equally well for sewer pipes’ maintenance.  (more details later in this article).

Note: Rid-X doesn’t remove clogs.  You’ll need a plunger or auger for that.

Image Source: Amazon.com Embedded Link

Shown: RID-X Works Well To Maintain Sewer Pipes (to prevent clogs).

Click On Image To; View Product, Read Details or Purchase From Amazon.com

Drano Also Has An Enzymatic Cleaner For Pipe Maintenance

Our Answers

Will Drano harm pipes?  Our answers depend on which material your sewer pipes are made of.  Drano is corrosive and harms pipes made of metal.  Drano likely harms ABS (black) plastic sewer pipes.  It may harm older PVC (white) plastic pipes (20+ years) — details within this article.  Below are the primary 4 types of sewer pipes — and the years they were commonly used in new construction homes.

Click Here To Read Our Article About Descaling Cast Iron Sewer Pipes: www.AlsPlumbing.com Descaling Cast-Iron Sewer Pipes

What Kind Of Sewer Pipes Does Your Home Have?

Cast-Iron Sewer Pipes 

photo of cast iron sewer pipe

Image Source: Dreamstime

SHOWN: (new) Cast Iron Sewer Pipe — Common In Homes Built 1970 & Earlier

(medium to dark gray in color when new)

Will Drano Harm Pipes Made Of Cast-Iron?   YES? 

You won’t likely be able to see cast-iron sewer pipes.  When the homes were built — chromed steel pipes were used under sinks.

chrome sewer pipes under sink.

Image Source: Shutterstock

Shown: Chromed-Steel Sewer Pipes Commonly Found Under Sinks In Older Homes.

It’s also possible that plastic pipes are visible under sinks (plastic pipes discussed below).

Galvanized-Steel

galvanized steel pipe

Image Source: Shutterstock

Shown: New galvanized metal pipes — Common In Homes Built 1960 & Earlier

  • Will Drano Harm Pipes Made Of Galvanized-Steel?   YES?  
  • Any brand of chemical drain cleaner will harm metal sewer pipes. 
  • Cast-Iron & Galvanized-Steel Sewer Pipes are metal and corrode/rust — and chemical drain cleaners accelerate corrosion.
  • Drano adds a rust-inhibitor that includes Silica (a natural mineral).
  • Silica forms a barrier between the pipe and what’s flowing through it.
  • Silica Rust-Inhibitors have been used in city water pipes for over 70 years.

BUT:

  • Highly corrosive substances will dissolve the protective-film created by silica.
  • Draino has 3 corrosive ingredients (more on this within this article).
  • Corrosives are commonly used to remove silica film on industrial equipment.
  • The silica is removed because its build-up — reduces heat-transfer through metal.
  • We go into detail about this below.  That section begins just under the photo of red Drano bottle.

photo of cast iron sewer pipe rusted all the way through the metal

Image Source: Shutterstock

SHOWN: Corroded / Rusted Cast Iron Sewer Pipes

This YouTube Video Below Shows A Badly Scaled (rusted) Cast Iron Pipe While Undergoing Rust-Scale Removal

Image Source: YouTube Embedded Video

Shown:  Descaling Cast Iron Sewer Pipe.  This is done when the pipe is sound — but the scaling catches debris and causes clogs.

To View The Video:  Click on the white arrow in the center of the image.

At the beginning of the video — you’ll see the rust/corrosion (before descaling.)

At Time: 1:00 / 5:15  Descaling begins.

At Time: 4:30 / 5:15  See the pipe after Descaling.

ABS Sewer Pipes

abs sewer pipe

Image Source: Shutterstock

SHOWN: ABS (black plastic) Sewer Pipe — Common In Homes Built During 1970-1974.

ABS was a 1st Generation Plastic Sewer Pipe.

From 1985 to 1998 — Class-Action Lawsuits Arose Due To Premature Failures of the plastic resin used. 

Many pipes became brittle, cracked, and began leaking.

Source: https://www.lieffcabraser.com/defect/abs-pipes/

When Used As Directed — Will Drano Harm Pipes Made of ABS  (Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene ) Sewer Pipes.

  • Likely.  ABS is not resistant to the chlorinated hydrocarbons in bleach (bleach is in Drano).  

Source: https://www.diffen.com/difference/ABS_vs_PVC

Source: https://science.jrank.org/pages/1438/Chlorine-Properties-uses-chlorine.html#:~:text=Ordinary%20laundry%20bleach%20is%20a,atoms%20replaced%20by%20chlorine%20atoms.

PVC Sewer Pipes

photo of PVC sewer pipe

Image Source: Shutterstock

Shown: PVC (white plastic) Sewer Pipe — Common In Homes Built 1975 & Later.

PVC is the 2nd Generation Plastic Sewer Pipe. — and is what’s used in all new homes today.

Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) is a “thermoplastic”.  Many plastics will melt when exposed to enough heat. To prevent this, PVC goes through a thermosetting process — with heat providing the energy for thermosetting.  After thermosetting — PVC is very rigid and hard, and can’t be re-melted.  PVC also has excellent chemical resistance.

When Used As Directed — Will Drano Harm Pipes Made of PVC (PolyVinyl Chloride)?  

  • Not Likely: PVC pipes < 20 years old.  *3
  • Possibly: PVC pipes > 20 years old (see source *3 below)

*3 Source: “Best Drain Cleaners Of 2021”  https://www.bobvila.com/articles/best-drain-cleaner/

Does This Mean You Shouldn’t Use Household Bleach?  No — it’s ok to use it.

  • Household bleach contains only 3–8% Sodium Hypoclorite / Chlorine.

AND

  • Bleach is typically tremendously diluted in common household uses.

** Source: https://www.vinidex.com.au/technical-resources/chemical-resistance/chemical-resistance-of-pvc-pipes/

 


Image Source: Amazon.com Embedded Link

SHOWN: Drano.  Click On Image, To Read The Back Side Of The Bottle 

Near the bottom of the Drano’s bottle’s label — you’ll see: “Corrosion Inhibitor”.

Definitions:

Corrosion:  The primary means by which metals deteriorate.  The most common corrosion is caused by a chemical(s)— and spreads uniformly over the entire exposed surface.

Corrosion Inhibitor: A chemical substance added into a corrosive environment.  It prevents or reduces corrosion — by forming a protective-film on the inside lining of a pipe.  Sodium Metasilicate has been added to Public Water Systems for over 70 years — to reduce the effects of corrosive-water on the pipes.

Source: https://www.intechopen.com/chapters/64392

Drano Adds Sodium Silicate As Its Corrosion Inhibitor.*

Sodium Silicate Inhibits Rust — By forming a thin film of silicate on a pipe’s interior lining.  

* Source: https://www.whatsinsidescjohnson.com/us/en/brands/drano/drano-liquid-clog-remover

Click Here To See A Photo Of Natural Silica: Photo Of Natural Silica

Natural silica is a trace mineral — that consists of silicon & oxygen.  Silica forms a protective-barrier on the inside of the pipe.  Sodium Silicate has been used in Municipal Water Systems pipes for over 70 years to inhibit rust.

Source: chrome-extension://efaidnbmnnnibpcajpcglclefindmkaj/viewer.html?pdfurl=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.pqcorp.com%2Fdocs%2Fdefault-source%2Frecommended-literature%2Fpq%2Fsodium-metasilicates%2Fmetso-sodium-metasilicate-2009.pdf%3Fsfvrsn%3D6dd18c21_3&clen=722225&chunk=truedoi=10.1.1.496.2266&rep=rep1&type=pdf#:~:text=Sodium%20silicate%20has%20been%20used,inner%20surface%20of%20the%20pipe.

BUT –Lye (in Drano) Dissolves Silica Deposits. 

DISSOLVING SILICA SCALE: There are 2 generally accepted ways to remove silica deposits.  One is is to use Sodium Hydroxide / Lye

Source: Improved Methods For Removal Of Silicate Deposits.    chrome-extension://efaidnbmnnnibpcajpcglclefindmkaj/viewer.html?pdfurl=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.heatexchanger-fouling.com%2Fpapers%2Fpapers2017%2F32_McCartney_Improved%2520Methods%2520for%2520Removal%2520of%2520Silicate.pdf&clen=1029454&chunk=true

The pH Level Scale Is A: 0 — 14 Number To Identify If A Substance Is:

Acidic (pH <7), Neutral (7), or Alkaline (pH>7).

  • Acids measure pH< 7.
  • 0 is extremely acidic.
  • Low pH = high acidity = highly corrosive.
  • 7 pH is Neutral.
  • Alkalines measure pH > 7.
  • 14 is extremely alkaline.
  • High pH = high alkalinity = highly corrosive.
  • In highly alkaline solutions (like Drano) — Corrosion rates are comparable to highly acidic solutions.
  • In moderately alkaline environments — metals often develop a protection-layer that lowers the corrosion rate.
Source: Palo Alto Research Center    https://www.researchgate.net/post/Why-are-corrosion-rates-in-low-pH-solutions-higher-than-high-pH-solutions

Drano Has 3 Highly Alkaline/ Highly Corrosive Ingredients (show just below). 

  • High pH number = highly alkaline = highly corrosive.
  • pH 11: Drano’s overall pH
  • Drano says: We use pH adjusters to achieve the best pH for a particular job.  Also, the pH of a formula limits its tendency to corrode a can
  • pH 14: Sodium Hydroxide (lye) is one of the most corrosive substances on earth. 
  • pH 12: Sodium Hypochlorite (bleach)is also highly corrosive. 
  • pH 11-13 Sodium Silicate (rust inhibitor).

Source: https://www.whatsinsidescjohnson.com/us/en/brands/drano/drano-max-gel-clog-remover

Source: https://pubs.acs.org/doi/10.1021/acs.jpcc.0c01495     ACS.org is ACS Publications

Source: https://blog.storemasta.com.au/examples-corrosive-substances-ph-levels

Source: https://www.oxy.com/OurBusinesses/Chemicals/ResponsibleCare/Documents/Sodium%20Metasilicate.pdf

 

The Bubbling You May See With Chemical Drain Cleaners

Does Drano Harm Pipes Due To It Boiling Water?  NO — because the bubbling water isn’t boiling. 

Chemical drain cleaners consist of combinations of; sodium hydroxide (lye), sodium hypochlorate (bleach), sodium nitrate, sodium chloride (salt) and shards of aluminum.

  • In water, the aluminum reacts with lye — to produce hydrogen gas. *4
  • The bubbles of hydrogen gas agitate the mixture to help dislodge the clog.
  • While heat may be generated — the drain cleaner isn’t boiling..

Image Source: YouTube Embedded Video

Shown: Lye-Based Drain Cleaner Creating Hydrogen Gas Bubbles *6



Drano & Other Chemical Drain Cleaners — Health Risks To You

Copy The Link Below Into Your Browser To See The “Safety Data Sheet” For Liquid Drano (highlights just below):

Source: https://health.ho-chunk.com/sdsdocs/100182.pdf

Drano’s Specifications Shown In Globally Harmonized System (GHS) Classification:

  • Hazard Classification // Hazard Category  // Hazards ID
  • Corrosive To Metals // Category 1 // May be corrosive to metals.
  • Skin Corrosion // Category 1B // Causes severe skin burns and eye damage.
  • Serious Eye Damage // Category 1 // Causes serious eye damage.

Composition Information On Ingredients\

  • Chemical Name // CAS-No. // Weight Percent
  • Sodium Hypochlorite-Lye // 7681-52-9 // 1- 5% (varies by product).
  • Sodium Chloride-Salt //  7647-14-5 // 1- 5%.
  • Sodium Hydroxide-Dissolved Chlorine Gas // 1310-73-2 // 1- 5% (varies by product).
  • Sodium Silicate-Rust Inhibitor // 1344-09-8 // 1- 5% (varies by product).
  • The specific chemical identity and/or exact concentration percentage of Drano are withheld as A Trade Secret (this is perfectly legal).

Risk Of Physical Injury While Using Chemical Drain Cleaners Is Ever-Present. 

Serious injury can result from dropping an open bottle of chemical drain cleaner – that splashes onto your body.   Within the article is a link to a story of a devastating injury resulting from 2 drops of chemical drain cleaner getting on a man’s hand.  After 27 surgeries he had the hand amputated.

Health Risks While Using Chemical Drain Cleaners

The U.S. Dept. Of Heath & Human Services Website

Says This About Liquid Drano:

Warnings:May be corrosive to metals. Causes severe skin burns and eye damage.

Precautionary statements:

Call for medical advice if needed.  Have product container close by when calling.

Keep out of reach of children. Immediately call 911 if you suspect someone has ingested a chemical drain cleaner.  IF SWALLOWED: Rinse mouth. Do NOT induce vomiting.

IF INHALED: Get fresh air and stay in a position comfortable for breathing.

IF ON SKIN (or hair): Remove product immediately.  Remove any contaminated clothing. Rinse skin with water/ shower.

IF IN EYES: Call 911.  Remove & discard contact lenses. Rinse cautiously with water for several minutes.

Source: https://hpd.nlm.nih.gov/cgi-bin/household/brands?tbl=brands&id=19001557&query=drano+&searchas=TblBrands

A Simple Mistake While Handling Chemical Drain Cleaner Can Have Catastrophic Effects

The link below is to an article (written by his wife) about a man who ended up having 27 surgeries in attempt to remedy the on-going issues of his injury from 2 drops of chemical drain cleaner.  He eventually had the hand amputated.  Even that did not solve the problem…

Copy This Link Below Into Your Browser To Read An Article About An Hand Injury

A Man Suffered As A Result Of 2 Drops Of Chemical Drain Cleaner.

After 27 Surgeries — He Had His Hand Amputated.

Two Droplets

Can Chemical Drain Cleaners Harm You?

  • Absolutely!  There is no disagreement about this.
  • Make a simple mistake while using chemical drain cleaners and you risk severe injury.
  • If you have used a chemical drain cleaner — don’t attempt to clear the drain with any other method.
  • If a chemical drain cleaner doesn’t clear the clog — the standing water is now highly toxic.
  • You could splash or expose yourself to drain cleaner in the standing water.

Preventing Clogs With An Enzyme Drain Cleaner

Enzyme drain cleaners won’t clear a clogged drain. 

But, they have great potential in preventing clogs — when used to maintain sewer pipes.

They don’t have chemicals.  Enzymatic drain cleaners were originally used (and still are) for septic tanks.  Enzymatic drain cleaners are a safer alternative to chemical drain cleaners.

They contain concentrated enzymes to break down organic substances.  Then, their beneficial bacteria digest the broken-down organic waste.  They also reproduce beneficial bacteria — and move further down the pipes.   Once they can’t find remaining organic waste (likely sewer sludge) — they will be flushed into the city sewer (or septic tank) — where they can continue to clear pipes.

In ideal conditions — the bacteria doubles every 25-30 minutes.  An enzymatic drain cleaner isn’t restricted by gravity.  The bacteria can clean the entire inside of the pipe.

Their bacteria & enzymes can’t eat away at non-organic substances like sewer pipes.

 Rid-X

Image Source: Amazon.com Embedded Link

Shown: RID-X Works Well To Maintain Sewer Pipes (to prevent clogs).

Click On Image To; View Product, Read Details or Purchase From Amazon.com

Drano Also Has An Enzymatic Cleaner For Pipe Maintenance

Better & Safer Ways To Remove Clogs

CAUTION:  Do Not Use If A Chemical Drain Cleaner Was Used First.

  • Use a plunger first.  It often clears clogs quickly and safely.
  • You can also use a drain-snake.  Professionals who clear clogs use large, motorized drain-snakes.
  • A plunger typically won’t remove a hair clog
  • Use a Zip-It for hair removal.
  • Zip-It is designed to remove hair.  It has “teeth” along its sides to snag hair.

zip it drain cleaning tool for removing hair

Shown: Photo Shows “Teeth” Along Sides Of A Zip-It

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This article was about: “Can Drano Harm Pipes?:Al’s Plumbing, Heating & A/C in Plano, Texas provides maintenance & repairs for all brands of Central A/C, Gas & Electric Furnace, and Heat Pumps.  Additionally, we sell and install new HVAC Systems from American Standard (same company as Trane), Ameristar (same company as American Standard), and Coleman HVAC (same company as York HVAC).

Al’s also provides full-service plumbing maintenance, repairs, and replacements for every plumbing component in your home.  Al’s sells and installs Rheem Professional Series gas & electric water heaters, and tankless water heaters.  Al’s is near your home in Murphy, Wylie, and Rowlette.  We service all homes in southern Collin County with no additional travel charges.

Call Al’s today to discuss any concerns or problems you have with your HVAC System or Plumbing.  We will arrange an appointment at your convenience and offer 24/7 Emergency Service.