Is there anything more environmentally friendly than Drano for unclogging a drain?

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investor4life
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Re: Is there anything more environmentally friendly than Drano for unclogging a drain?

Post by investor4life » Tue May 05, 2020 10:12 pm

We had a slow-running shower drain. It had one of those grates with square, 1/4-inch holes that was letting hair etc get through. Fished out the gunk with a plastic snake and got a drain cover with tiny holes at Lowe's (it just sits atop the original grate). For good measure, I throw in some Bio-Clean once a month as well. No issues for the past two years.

Katietsu
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Re: Is there anything more environmentally friendly than Drano for unclogging a drain?

Post by Katietsu » Tue May 05, 2020 10:23 pm

tc101 wrote:
Tue May 05, 2020 12:13 pm
There is some kind of hard stuff, like small pebbles, which I can't get with my finger. Maybe it is a mineral buildup or soap that has hardened over the years. Does anyone have any idea what that is?
I can not tell if you are describing something loose or something attached to the side if the pipe.

If it is loose, you might be able to use a vacuum to remove it. I have a piece of tubing about 3/8” diameter that I have used with a vacuum to get stuff out of otherwise impossible to reach locations. I made mine with a piece of tubing, bike tire inner tube rubber and tape since I needed it immediately the first time I used it. However, you can apparently purchase a commercial version the same thing if you look around for a small diameter flexible crevice tool nozzle.

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Cubicle
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Re: Is there anything more environmentally friendly than Drano for unclogging a drain?

Post by Cubicle » Tue May 05, 2020 11:27 pm

I worry about jarring mechanical methods like compressed air or anything resembling a "shockwave". Might cause things to loosen/displace. Though I guess if it can't stand up to that, it was on it's way out...

Plumbers don't use chemical drain cleaners because if they or anyone has to open the pipes, the residue can harm them. That does not mean chemical drain cleaners/uncloggers/fixers do not work. If fact when a drain is running slow, I pour 1-2 cap fulls 15 minutes after the last shower. Flush with hot water 30 minutes later. If I see at the next shower still too slow for my liking, then repeat. Key is catch the pipes clogging, not clogged. For anyone who says "that's too difficult to remember", keep the chemical bottle next to your shower/tub. As you see it... "oh yeah, let me throw a cap or 2".

If the drain is stopped, then I'll use a mechanical plunger/snake/auger/..."poker thingy". Fortunately for me 99% of my plumbing is accessible from my open ceiling basement so I can access the drain pipes directly.

If you ever stumble upon a drain pipe for any sort of home repair/renovation/etc... spend $10-$15 at Home Depot & get a "cleanout" tied into your pipes so you have excellent access whenever needed, & not have to go through the fixture drain.

Side note, I've read, then subsequently experience myself, that Walmart brand (Great Value, Equate???) drain cleaner/opener/unclogger works better than the name brand stuff. In my experience, it does.
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Dfree
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Re: Is there anything more environmentally friendly than Drano for unclogging a drain?

Post by Dfree » Wed May 06, 2020 12:04 am

My experience -- If the clog is more than 18 inches down the pipe, nothing beats a drum auger powered by a cordless drill. Especially if the clog is past some bends. Less than 18 inches, use a simple plastic probe with teeth.

https://www.homedepot.com/p/THEWORKS-1- ... /305340593

https://www.homedepot.com/p/BrassCraft- ... /305468409

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telemark
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Re: Is there anything more environmentally friendly than Drano for unclogging a drain?

Post by telemark » Wed May 06, 2020 12:05 am

I've had mixed success with Power Plumber

https://clrbrands.com/Products/CLR-Hous ... er-Plumber

I manually augured the slow drain in my bathroom sink twice and ended up with a completely blocked drain. I think the augur pushed everything down into a compact plug. A couple of shots of compressed air got things moving again and now it's very fast. On the other hand, Power Plumber has not helped appreciably with my slow bathtub drain, probably because I'm not able to block the overflow effectively.

Another pipe-friendly and environmentally friendly product is Drainbo

https://www.drainbo.com/

which is live bacteria that are supposed to digest the clogs. I have been trying this on my bathtub drain, and it hasn't produced dramatic results, but then neither has anything else I've tried, including Zep Tub and Shower and Drano Max Gel. Seems like a good choice to use as maintenance, and at least it won't damage the pipes.

The P trap under my bathtub is at least 40 years old and can't be accessed without cutting into the ceiling of the condo below mine, so I'm nervous about trying a augur.

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telemark
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Re: Is there anything more environmentally friendly than Drano for unclogging a drain?

Post by telemark » Wed May 06, 2020 12:12 am

Teague wrote:
Tue May 05, 2020 11:55 am
As an aside, why do so many folks like to mix baking soda and vinegar together? That makes water, carbon dioxide and sodium acetate, none of which are very reactive or likely to dissolve a clog, or do much of anything else.
I tried this, since I already had the materials on hand. It made a really impressive show, like those papier-mache volcanos from grade school, but otherwise didn't seem to accomplish much.

Tracy
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Re: Is there anything more environmentally friendly than Drano for unclogging a drain?

Post by Tracy » Wed May 06, 2020 2:51 am

Multiple people with long hair in my household. We've had good success with Green Gobbler, a non-caustic liquid: https://www.homedepot.com/b/Plumbing-Dr ... vZbqljZdqo. Target also carries it.

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Re: Is there anything more environmentally friendly than Drano for unclogging a drain?

Post by basspond » Wed May 06, 2020 6:09 am

Had a family friend who used Drano anytime they had slow flow. They eventually had to replace all of their drain pipes because the Drano ate through the pipes. Avoid chemicals as much as possible. I use a snake, pliers, screwdriver, and plunger and sometimes have to open the “J” under the sinks. Once I ran a water hose down the plumbing vent on the roof.

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Tubes
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Re: Is there anything more environmentally friendly than Drano for unclogging a drain?

Post by Tubes » Wed May 06, 2020 6:31 am

Agree with the above about using mechanical methods such as the plastic zip or an actual auger.

If you want to try to prevent future clogs, you can try enzymes. These work very slowly on the "gunk and goo" portion which will then allow the hair and other stuff to just flow through.

I think drainbo (mentioned above) is similar. Here's another.

https://www.homedepot.com/p/ZEP-64-oz-D ... /202056509

Turbo29
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Re: Is there anything more environmentally friendly than Drano for unclogging a drain?

Post by Turbo29 » Wed May 06, 2020 9:40 pm

tadamsmar wrote:
Tue May 05, 2020 7:55 pm
Turbo29 wrote:
Tue May 05, 2020 11:33 am
What's so environmentally unfriendly about Drano?
"It’s dangerous for you, harsh on your plumbing system, and bad for the environment."

https://blog.jiffyondemand.com/why-plum ... nst-drano/

I once had to replace a drain that was damaged by Draino.

It is easier to just use a drain snake.
I don't disagree about the plumbing but your link only makes the assertion about "bad for the environment" without supporting their claim.

In any case, I only use the liquid one, sparingly, and never on a solid clog. It doesn't get as hot and won't blow up in your face like the crystals will.
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random_walker_77
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Re: Is there anything more environmentally friendly than Drano for unclogging a drain?

Post by random_walker_77 » Wed May 06, 2020 9:55 pm

Teague wrote:
Tue May 05, 2020 11:55 am
jrbdmb wrote:
Tue May 05, 2020 11:40 am
For a shallow clogs I've found something like this handy (plastic drain "auger"):

https://www.grainger.com/product/415C75

I use this once in a while when our sinks / shower get slow due to hair and soap buildup. Surprising how much of that stuff doesn't just go down the drain. EDIT: I see a few others have mentioned the same thing.
These seem to work great for clogs they can reach, and if OP can see their clog it should do the trick. Readily available online or at hardware stores all over. Reusable, too.
+1 to all the recommendations for the plastic zip it tools. They work really well, and will solve the problem 9 times out of 10. In addition to amazon and homedepot, you can get them off ebay for under a buck. I think it's worth keeping a few on hand. (They do eventually wear out and break)

For the times when a plastic tool doesn't work, you want an auger like this. Currently $15, and almost always under $20: https://www.homedepot.com/p/Husky-1-4-i ... /301879463
If in doubt about how to use it, watch a video on youtube.

If chemicals have been applied, then wear gloves and goggles. You really don't want to get that stuff on your skin.

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tadamsmar
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Re: Is there anything more environmentally friendly than Drano for unclogging a drain?

Post by tadamsmar » Thu May 07, 2020 8:30 am

Turbo29 wrote:
Wed May 06, 2020 9:40 pm
tadamsmar wrote:
Tue May 05, 2020 7:55 pm
Turbo29 wrote:
Tue May 05, 2020 11:33 am
What's so environmentally unfriendly about Drano?
"It’s dangerous for you, harsh on your plumbing system, and bad for the environment."

https://blog.jiffyondemand.com/why-plum ... nst-drano/

I once had to replace a drain that was damaged by Draino.

It is easier to just use a drain snake.
I don't disagree about the plumbing but your link only makes the assertion about "bad for the environment" without supporting their claim.

In any case, I only use the liquid one, sparingly, and never on a solid clog. It doesn't get as hot and won't blow up in your face like the crystals will.
This site makes the general argument for limiting the use of harsh chemicals because of disposal issues and because of where they end up when you pour them down the drain:

"...those chemicals are likely to end up in nearby waters."

https://cfpub.epa.gov/npstbx/files/RISWChemicals.pdf

I my town, Draino rates as a hazardous waste. No throwing it in the trash, no curbside pickup, no disposal at the closest town drop-off disposal center. It's about a 30 mile round-trip to the hazardous waste drop-off center. Proper disposal involves an incineration process in accordance with regulations. That's probably what happens to it if take it to the county hazardous waste center.

It's true that the MSDS says it is not harmful to the environment if you use as directed and follow federal, state, and local disposal regulations:

http://content.rpgov.net/dpw/right_to_k ... emover.pdf

I guess the MSDS assumes that the impact on the environment is minimal enough when used as directed.

But if you actually consider following all the safety guidelines in the MSDS, then you may decide it's easier to just use a snake.

I first quit using it because I had to replace a drain damaged by Draino. After that I found that a snake was easier to use.

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Re: Is there anything more environmentally friendly than Drano for unclogging a drain?

Post by neilpilot » Thu May 07, 2020 8:47 am

tadamsmar wrote:
Thu May 07, 2020 8:30 am
Turbo29 wrote:
Wed May 06, 2020 9:40 pm
tadamsmar wrote:
Tue May 05, 2020 7:55 pm
Turbo29 wrote:
Tue May 05, 2020 11:33 am
What's so environmentally unfriendly about Drano?
"It’s dangerous for you, harsh on your plumbing system, and bad for the environment."

https://blog.jiffyondemand.com/why-plum ... nst-drano/

I once had to replace a drain that was damaged by Draino.

It is easier to just use a drain snake.
I don't disagree about the plumbing but your link only makes the assertion about "bad for the environment" without supporting their claim.

In any case, I only use the liquid one, sparingly, and never on a solid clog. It doesn't get as hot and won't blow up in your face like the crystals will.
This site makes the general argument for limiting the use of harsh chemicals because of disposal issues and because of where they end up when you pour them down the drain:

"...those chemicals are likely to end up in nearby waters."

https://cfpub.epa.gov/npstbx/files/RISWChemicals.pdf

I my town, Draino rates as a hazardous waste. No throwing it in the trash, no curbside pickup, no disposal at the closest town drop-off disposal center. It's about a 30 mile round-trip to the hazardous waste drop-off center.

It's true that the MSDS says it is not harmful to the environment if you use as directed and follow federal, state, and local disposal regulations:

http://content.rpgov.net/dpw/right_to_k ... emover.pdf

I guess the MSDS assumes that the impact on the environment is minimal enough when used as directed.

But if you actually consider following all the guidelines in the MSDS, then you may decide it's easier to just use a snake.
To be clear, I don't use Drano and I'm not suggesting you should. My comment is directed on your implied comments that it could harm the environment.

While Drano in large quantity is a hazardous waste when included in your trash pickup, it is not an environmental hazard when discharged in household quantity to municipal water treatment. All of the primary ingredients are inorganic and have no environmental persistence. In fact the primary ingredients of sodium hydroxide (lye) and sodium hypochlorate (bleach) are commonly used in the wastewater treatment process.

As a former Environmental Manager, before I retired I spent 25 years in the municipal & industrial wastewater treatment business.
Last edited by neilpilot on Thu May 07, 2020 8:48 am, edited 1 time in total.

TallBoy29er
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Re: Is there anything more environmentally friendly than Drano for unclogging a drain?

Post by TallBoy29er » Thu May 07, 2020 8:48 am

2 Very good options.
1. Snake it (or use a coat hanger for on the cheap).

2. Use a plunger. Cover the drain with the plunger, fill shower with water past the lip of the plunger, and go to it. This has worked well for us. Info here https://www.homedepot.com/c/ah/how-to-u ... lsrc=aw.ds.

Chuck107
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Re: Is there anything more environmentally friendly than Drano for unclogging a drain?

Post by Chuck107 » Thu May 07, 2020 8:54 am

Baking soda one tablespoon down the drain, followed by 1/2 cup of vinegar... once per month takes care of the "gunk" tub and sink drains.
Plastic drain snake for hair removal, about 18" long, cost a few bucks.

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tadamsmar
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Re: Is there anything more environmentally friendly than Drano for unclogging a drain?

Post by tadamsmar » Thu May 07, 2020 9:05 am

neilpilot wrote:
Thu May 07, 2020 8:47 am
To be clear, I don't use Drano and I'm not suggesting you should. My comment is directed on your implied comments that it could harm the environment.

While Drano in large quantity is a hazardous waste when included in your trash pickup, it is not an environmental hazard when discharged in household quantity to municipal water treatment. All of the primary ingredients are inorganic and have no environmental persistence. In fact the primary ingredients of sodium hydroxide (lye) and sodium hypochlorate (bleach) are commonly used in the wastewater treatment process.

As a former Environmental Manager, before I retired I spent 25 years in the municipal & industrial wastewater treatment business.
The EPA recommends against it for people with septic systems:

"Avoid chemical drain openers for a clogged drain. Instead, use boiling water or a drain snake"

https://www.epa.gov/septic/how-care-your-septic-system

neilpilot
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Re: Is there anything more environmentally friendly than Drano for unclogging a drain?

Post by neilpilot » Thu May 07, 2020 9:09 am

tadamsmar wrote:
Thu May 07, 2020 9:05 am
neilpilot wrote:
Thu May 07, 2020 8:47 am
To be clear, I don't use Drano and I'm not suggesting you should. My comment is directed on your implied comments that it could harm the environment.

While Drano in large quantity is a hazardous waste when included in your trash pickup, it is not an environmental hazard when discharged in household quantity to municipal water treatment. All of the primary ingredients are inorganic and have no environmental persistence. In fact the primary ingredients of sodium hydroxide (lye) and sodium hypochlorate (bleach) are commonly used in the wastewater treatment process.

As a former Environmental Manager, before I retired I spent 25 years in the municipal & industrial wastewater treatment business.
The EPA recommends against it for people with septic systems:

"Avoid chemical drain openers for a clogged drain. Instead, use boiling water or a drain snake"

https://www.epa.gov/septic/how-care-your-septic-system
Which is why I specified municipal water treatment. Septic systems are a different animal, and the warning applies to all chemical drain cleaners and is not specific to Drano.

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Re: Is there anything more environmentally friendly than Drano for unclogging a drain?

Post by Murgatroyd » Thu May 07, 2020 9:34 am

Sometimes the blockage is too far for consumer use mechanical tools. I have found Natures Soldiers works well, but you have to be patient. It’s also good for the septic system, which we have.

https://naturessoldiers.com/

TeeDee
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Re: Is there anything more environmentally friendly than Drano for unclogging a drain?

Post by TeeDee » Thu May 07, 2020 6:02 pm

Drano is as environmentally friendly as you can get. As an aside, the environment doesn’t need your friendship

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F150HD
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Re: Is there anything more environmentally friendly than Drano for unclogging a drain?

Post by F150HD » Thu May 07, 2020 8:18 pm

This thread is meaningless without pictures of the gobs of gunk you all are removing from your drains. :D

knibloe
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Re: Is there anything more environmentally friendly than Drano for unclogging a drain?

Post by knibloe » Thu May 07, 2020 9:10 pm

tc101 wrote:
Tue May 05, 2020 12:13 pm
I took off the drain cover and pulled out what I could with my finger, but it goes much deeper than I can reach. In addition to the hair and scum, which is easy to get with a finger, there is some kind of hard stuff, like small pebbles, which I can't get with my finger. Maybe it is a mineral buildup or soap that has hardened over the years. Does anyone have any idea what that is?

I will try one of the mechanical gadgets mentioned, but I don't think it will get the hard stuff. Will drano dissolve the hard stuff?
If the hard stuff is mineral from water hardness the draino will not touch it

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Re: Is there anything more environmentally friendly than Drano for unclogging a drain?

Post by workingovertime » Thu May 07, 2020 9:21 pm

Cheez-It Guy wrote:
Tue May 05, 2020 11:35 am
Snake it. 100% mechanical.
Agree 100%. I've dealt with many drain clog and snaking it works every time for general household clog (hair, etc) and works extremely well.

Just buy the plastic little snake (very cheap) and snake it. Only major downside is that it often smells terrible and it's disgusting. But hey, if your drain is clogged, you gotta do something!

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Re: Is there anything more environmentally friendly than Drano for unclogging a drain?

Post by bertilak » Fri May 08, 2020 6:00 am

We had a longstanding problem with a slow draining sink. Nothing helped. Part of the problem was the stopper which prevented use of a snake.

I fInally broke down and called a plumber. He had some sort of air pressure device which blew the drain clear.
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Reubin
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Re: Is there anything more environmentally friendly than Drano for unclogging a drain?

Post by Reubin » Fri May 08, 2020 9:52 pm

I use Shower Shroom. Just remove the hair from it every few weeks. Easy peasy. I got tired of snaking.
https://www.amazon.com/ShowerShroom-Rev ... B071KTT82G

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Cubicle
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Re: Is there anything more environmentally friendly than Drano for unclogging a drain?

Post by Cubicle » Sat May 09, 2020 12:47 am

F150HD wrote:
Thu May 07, 2020 8:18 pm
This thread is meaningless without pictures of the gobs of gunk you all are removing from your drains. :D
Ewwww... please no. I'm following this thread for knowledge. But have been squeamish at the mental imagery.

Coincidentally I'm in the midst of cutting into my home's cast iron sewer pipe. Part 1 was tonight. Part 2 is tomorrow. Ick...
"Oh look another bajillion point declin-Ooooh!!! A coupon for pizza!!!!" <--- This is what everyone's IPS should be. ✓✓✓

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F150HD
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Re: Is there anything more environmentally friendly than Drano for unclogging a drain?

Post by F150HD » Sat May 09, 2020 11:09 am

Cubicle wrote:
Sat May 09, 2020 12:47 am
F150HD wrote:
Thu May 07, 2020 8:18 pm
This thread is meaningless without pictures of the gobs of gunk you all are removing from your drains. :D
Ewwww... please no. I'm following this thread for knowledge. But have been squeamish at the mental imagery.

Coincidentally I'm in the midst of cutting into my home's cast iron sewer pipe. Part 1 was tonight. Part 2 is tomorrow. Ick...
everything in that pipe is just what you ate for dinner for the past X years, just in a different shape. :D

why are you cutting into the pipe btw?


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Re: Is there anything more environmentally friendly than Drano for unclogging a drain?

Post by buhlaxtus » Sat May 09, 2020 2:44 pm

Thrift, Draino, lye are all the same stuff, because sodium hydroxide is the best thing to dissolve biological residue. Some of the Drainos add extra things to make pretty foam. I'm with the person who said get a physical gadget in there and do it that way.

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Cubicle
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Re: Is there anything more environmentally friendly than Drano for unclogging a drain?

Post by Cubicle » Mon May 11, 2020 12:43 am

F150HD wrote:
Sat May 09, 2020 11:09 am
why are you cutting into the pipe btw?
Pulling out a leaded (& oakum) in cleanout fitting so I can fit a pvc pipe into it. I needed another access into the drain pipes. Thought I was going to cut the hub, but ended up drilling the lead out, chiselling a ton, then more, pulling the cleanout, more chiselling, gave up & got out the angle grinder resulting in a dusty mess. The rubber donut was an absolute pain in the butt to get it. I had to boil it, soap it, oil it, nothing worked. Except 20 solid minutes of pounding with a hammer. And I didn't get it 100% seated correctly. But no leaks... yet. Monitoring this week.

Out of all the DIY stuff I can do, I dislike plumbing the most. Dirty. Yucky. Wet. I love electrical work.
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Tubes
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Re: Is there anything more environmentally friendly than Drano for unclogging a drain?

Post by Tubes » Mon May 11, 2020 7:06 am

buhlaxtus wrote:
Sat May 09, 2020 2:44 pm
Thrift, Draino, lye are all the same stuff, because sodium hydroxide is the best thing to dissolve biological residue. Some of the Drainos add extra things to make pretty foam. I'm with the person who said get a physical gadget in there and do it that way.
And the aluminum chips create an exothermic reaction, creating heat to help dissolve the clog. This is crystal drano, don't know about the liquid bottles.

In high school my nerdy friends and I did all kinds of chemistry experiments with the stuff. Amazing how hot you could get the solution with the addition of aluminum foil. I know we cracked and ruined some glassware.

I wouldn't use the stuff in my pipes. There are too many unknowns.

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Re: Is there anything more environmentally friendly than Drano for unclogging a drain?

Post by Glockenspiel » Mon May 11, 2020 7:45 am

One of those snakes with the little prongs on it. Easiest and cheapest method out there ($1) and not dumping harsh chemicals into your plumbing and to the wastewater treatment plant.

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