If you have a stubborn clog somewhere in your kitchen drain, then you may need to use a variety of tools to get rid of the formation. When plungers and snakes do not cut it, then a professional may be required. You do have the option of using drain cleaning chemicals as your last resort. Before you start to use these products, you will need to make sure that safety is one of your main concerns. Keep reading to find out what you need to do to reduce injuries.
Wear Good Safety Gear
It may seem like common sense that you need to wear safety items to protect your skin from drain cleaning chemicals. However, wearing the wrong types of products can leave you just as susceptible to injury as not wearing anything at all. When it comes to hand protection, skip the fabric gloves that can easily absorb chemicals and spread them across your skin. Instead, choose a pair of chemical resistant gloves.
These gloves are made out of natural rubber, neoprene, butyl, polyvinyl chloride, and viton. For the best protection against both strong acids and bases, look for gloves made out of polyvinyl chloride. Gloves that stretch all the way up to the elbow are ideal and so are gloves that fit snugly on your hands to reduce clumsy movements and spill issues. Skip the one-size-fits-all varieties, and measure the width of your hand to see if you need small, medium, or large sized gloves.
Your eyes need protection as well, because even a small amount of sulfuric or hydrochloric acid in the eye can cause blindness. In cases where the chemicals are not rinsed out immediately, permanent damage to the cornea and iris can occur. These types of injuries can be avoided with the use of goggles. Specifically, splash goggles should be purchased that are made from polyvinyl chloride. The goggles should have vents on the sides to allow for airflow around the eyes to reduce fogging issues. You can purchase one-size-fits-all goggle varieties, because the adjustable straps will help them fit your face.
Understand Chemical Reactions
If you intend on placing an acid like sulfuric acid or hydrochloric acid in your sink drain, then the clog will release as the chemicals mix with water. The mixture creates heat in the drain until grease and other congealed solids melt and soften. Water can then flush the loosened debris down the drain. You often need to wait 15, 20, or 30 minutes for the chemical agents to work before flushing the drain.
However, during this time, chemical reactions can take place that produce chlorine gas. This happens when two different types of drain cleaners are used within a short period of time. For example, if the sulfuric acid does not work, then you may be tempted to use a basic cleaner that contains lye. Harmful gas is then created when the strong base and acid meet in the drain and work to neutralize one another. This can happen as well if a drain cleaner is used after bleach or another cleaner has been used to clean the sink. In some cases, reactions even occur between the chemicals and the metal components of the sink or drain.
Ventilate the Space
One of the best ways to avoid being exposed to toxic gasses is to use one acid or basic drain cleaner alone. Also, use soap and warm water to clear bleach and other compounds from the sink basin. Afterwards, open at least one window in your house that sits close to the kitchen sink. Create a weak breeze to force the gasses out the window if chlorine is produced.
A fan can help with this. However, you need to make sure the breeze is created away from you as you work. For example, if the open window is above the sink, then place a fan about five feet behind you and turn it on at the lowest setting. If the window is behind you, then set the fan to the right or left side of the sink, and angle it upward to move gasses up and away from your face.
If the drain cleaner does not fix the clog, or if you are concerned about safely using them, then contact a plumber from a company like Doctor Fix-It to unclog your drains for you.