Routine events can sometimes create threat to homeowners
OFPD -- Many people take the chemicals they have in their homes for granted, but when improperly mixed or used in excess, they can create dangerous situations for families.
This weekend, for example, a homeowner was trying to clear out an apparent clogged drainage pipe in his home at 141st and Birch Street when the chemical cleaner he used created an overwhelming dangerous fume.
A medical emergency was called and the Orland Fire Department responded providing aid to the husband and his wife. Both are in good condition.
Crews ventilated the building and flushed the remainder of the household drain cleaner.
“While the exact use in this case is unknown, it is important to remember to use commercial chemical product according to the manufacturer’s recommendation,” said OFPD Fire Chief Ken Brucki.
“Please remember that ‘More is not always better’.”
Brucki noted that while chemical drain cleaners are useful for clearing all sorts of tough drain clogs, but they come with risks and dangers.
“Many of these chemicals emit harsh fumes that can be harmful if they are inhaled,” Brucki said.
“Many can burn and scar if they come in contact with your skin. And they can also damage your clothing, floors, counters and even your pipes themselves if not used properly. The following tips will help you use these drain cleaners safely.
Here are recommended tips that homeowners should consider when using common home cleaning substances:
Avoid the Most Harmful Cleaners
Some chemical drain de-clogging agents use lye or acid. These harsh chemicals are not only harmful to your health, but they can also contaminate waste water and cause damage to PVC piping. If you must use a cleaner with acid or lye, be sure to wear gloves and a protective mask. Ventilate the room as much as possible, and store them properly when you’re finished—opt for cleaners with a child-proof safety cap or put them in a locked cabinet or on a high shelf.
Always Read the Label
Not all drain cleaners are created equal, and using the wrong cleaner can cause major headaches. Some cleaners can eat through your plumbing, some can damage your septic system, and some can cause serious burns if they come in contact with your skin. Before you use a cleaner, read the label thoroughly to ensure that the cleaner is safe for your intended usage. You’ll also want to look for any label recommendations about safety and cleanup in case of an accidental spill.
Prevent Clog Build-Up
Do your best to keep grease and debris out of your drains and you won’t have to rely on a chemical drain cleaner to remove clogs quite so often. You’ll also cut down on unpleasant odors and help your pipes work more efficiently. A simple salt water solution, poured down the drain every couple of weeks, will flush out grease and eliminate odors from showers, sinks, and garbage disposals.
Consider These Drain Cleaning Alternatives
Harsh chemical cleaners are not the only option you have to cure a clogged drain. There are several alternatives that are just as effective without the potentially harmful side effects.
A sewer jetter sprays an adjustable, high-pressure stream of water down your drains, powering away clogs quickly and without harsh chemicals. Because you’re only using water, there’s no chance of damaging pipes or fixtures or of contaminating your home with noxious fumes. You can purchase a sewer jetter at most plumbing supply stores or large home improvement warehouses. Be sure to read the instructions thoroughly before use.
There are also plenty of natural drain cleaning methods. One of the most effective uses plain baking soda and white vinegar. First, remove any standing water in the basin or around the drain. Pour about ½ cup of ordinary baking soda into the drain, followed by ½ cup of vinegar. The two substances will react inside the pipes, dissolving clogs and allowing water to flow freely again. You can repeat these steps as many times as necessary to remove the clog. While the smell of vinegar might not be the most pleasant, it’s certainly non-toxic and much better for your plumbing, your home, and your health than any harsh chemical drain cleaner.
Your Best Bet: Call a Drain Cleaning Professional
Are you a chemist? Do you really know what happens when this chemical comes in contact with that substance? The thing about chemicals is that they produce chemical reactions. You've seen enough mad scientist movies to know that chemical reactions are almost never mild!
Plumbers and drain cleaning professionals aren't chemists either. That's why they generally only go the chemical route as a last resort.
If you have a clogged drain that's so bad that you need to resort to chemicals, the problem is probably beyond your scope. At this point, call a plumbing and drain contractor such as Horizon Services. We have an arsenal of non-chemical tools and means at our disposal that can safely remove virtually any clog. And in that rare instance when chemicals are required, our highly trained drain cleaning pros know how to safely and cleanly mix and pour the chemical without harming your pipes, kitchens or bathrooms.