I have a stall shower that was newly renovated 18 months ago.
Seemingly all of a sudden, the drain started going slow and then not at all
(ok... very very slow).
I suggested a bottle of Liquid Plumr or Drano, but my wife says no.
She says its bad on pipes. Is it?
:Robert Fenster wrote:
:> :> I have a stall shower that was newly renovated 18 months ago.:> :> Seemingly all of a sudden, the drain started going slow and then not at all:> (ok... very very slow).:> :> I suggested a bottle of Liquid Plumr or Drano, but my wife says no.:> :> She says its bad on pipes. Is it?
:Depends on the pipes. Old galv iron will get eaten away;
:plastic pipe = no eating. <g>
I was recommended at local hardware store to use Drano Max Build-Up
Remover. "Safe For Pipes," is what it says. It's not sodium hydroxide
(lye) like "regular" drano. I've used lye a number of times (carefully!)
and to my knowledge never suffered consequences, but I'm impressed that
it's a good idea to stay away from the stuff if possible. Since I cut my
hair, I have much less need to use it!!! I leave it on the hair-cutter's
floor instead of in my drains. However, your wife may not want to wear a
I do use the Drano Max stuff occasionally, just to help prevent drain
clogging. It acts by ensymatic action. Not sure how good it really is,
On Sun, 22 Feb 2004 11:01:35 -0500, "Robert Fenster"
:The plunger did it. Why we think plunger only for toilet is beyond me.
Uh, yeah. Plungers can do wonders in sinks.
Hi Ed- a correction if I may:
Sodium hydroxide isn't an acid, it's a base (the opposite of an acid).
Agreed: lye, and other strong bases, are caustic agents that are very
good at dissolving organic matter.
The distinction between acid and base is very important: some old drain
cleaners had acids in them. Mix two drain cleaners, one acid and one
base, and you could get an extremely violent neutralization reaction.
Acid+base=water+salt, if I remember my chemistry classes of several decades
Also, a salt is defined as a metal combined with a non-metal, right???
Just a guy trying to see if the cobwebs in the old attic are not too dense yet!
A bit more on acids and bases and caustic, etc.
I worked in a chemical plant for 35 years. Had to deal with very strong
acid quite a bit. Some of the acids were so strong, they were only
available in the chemical industry, and only from a few suppliers.
However, strong as those acids might be, most folks in my plant and the
chemical industry in general are more afraid of strong base, such as the
sodium hydroxide used in Draino.
You have a fighting chance if you get acid on you, wash with water and you
often can avoid a lot of trouble.
Don't EVER put water into a pool of strong acid though, it heats up,
boils, and spatters acid all over. Same with mixing strong acid such as
the sulfuric acid sold to treat plugged drains; and strong base, such as
the sodium hydroxide sold to treat plugged drains. Try to mix them and
they react exposively, enough to put acid and base on the ceiling, and
shower you, especially your eyes.
Caustic attacks the human body much, much faster than most acids, and much
I do drain cleaning while wearing gloves and goggles.
:Drano is lye, which is sodium hydroxide, an acid. -snip-.
Actually, sodium hydroxide is the opposite on an acid, it is basic.
However, it is extremely corrosive, just as an acid is. Acids and bases
are opposite to one another and cancel (neutralize, actually) one
another out (when mixed).
On Mon, 23 Feb 2004 14:46:48 GMT, Horatio Hornblower
::Drano is lye, which is sodium hydroxide, an acid. -snip-.
:Actually, sodium hydroxide is the opposite on an acid, it is basic.
:However, it is extremely corrosive, just as an acid is. Acids and bases
:are opposite to one another and cancel (neutralize, actually) one
:another out (when mixed).
I shouldn't have said this. It's true but as noted elsewhere in the
thread, if the acid and/or base is strong, you are apt to have an
explosion if you do this in practice.
Umm, no. Lye is an alkali (or base) - opposite of acid. Your major
concern with lye is plugging up your waste line with it and then
having it explode in your face when you mix and match other "drain
cleaning" products. Mechanical is the way to go for most blockages.
<< I suggested a bottle of Liquid Plumr or Drano, but my wife says no. She says
its bad on pipes. Is it? >>
Could be, depending on the pipe material Old fashioned Drano is nearly pure
sodium hygroxide pellets. NaOH is an extremely strong caustic (base, not acid)
and is OK for cast iron but not much else. It will severely etch any glassy
coating like enamel on sinks and glazing on porcelain toilets and tiles and
ruin a fiberglass tub. Not well known IIRC from first year chemistry is the
reaction of NaOH with zinc, leading to destruction of brass alloys used in sink
Well, I do recall my chemistry well, and never heard anything about NaOH
reacting with zinc. Strong bases do not corrode metals, although I have
heard several times that strong bases can do something nasty to aluminum
and the reaction involves an oxide that normally exists on the surface of
Do not mix strong bases with strong acids (may boil/sputter) nor
ammonia (may produce large quantities of ammonia gas, which can knock you
out in a matter of seconds and kill you if you breathe a lot). Do not mix
bleach with acids (may produce chlorine) nor ammoinia (that produces
chloramine) for that matter.
- Don Klipstein ( email@example.com)
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