When we have a clogged drain, homeowners will often use a chemical drain cleaner like Drano to clear it out. They feel this will clear the issue out of the system. However, if you have a septic system, you may be wondering the same thing. Is Drano septic safe? No, Drano doesn’t mix well with septic and can hurt the plumbing system so there are better things to use.
How Your Septic System Works
Homes either have sewer or they have a septic tank. The septic takes the waste from the pipes into a tank that has bacteria and separates the liquid from the waste. Then, the liquid goes through the tank and then into the leach field. If the septic has any part that is not working, then solid waste could back up into the house. It can also cause waste to go to the leach field as well. The tank must have bacteria to break down solid waste and then allow the liquid to go up to the top of the tank.
What Does Drano Do?
Even though Drano sounds like a good idea, it has a lot of harsh chemicals in it such as lye, bleach aluminum, and salt. When drain cleaning chemicals like this are poured into drains, a strong chemical reaction is created and dissolves food particles, hair, and fat that are organic matter and causes them to decompose. When they come in contact with organic matter, the decomposition process speeds up when the reaction produces a lot of heat.
The lye creates soap bubbles with it reacting with grease, fat, and oil and this helps loosen the clog.
If I Can’t Use Drano, Then What Do I Use?
Since Drano is not a good idea or septic safe, there are some alternatives. Let’s take a look.
Boiling water works well to clear clogs that are due to grease, hair, and soap buildup. To break these down, you will need to boil a half-gallon of water and then pour it into the drain. This also works well on slow drains.
Vinegar and Baking Soda
Another great alternative to Drano, since it is not septic safe, is vinegar and baking soda. To make this work, take a cup of baking soda, pour it down the drain, and then pour a cup of vinegar. Seal the drain for 30 minutes. Then take hot water and pour it down the drain.
Using a plunger is a good idea to get rid of a clog. Put the cup of the plunger over the drain and then cover it with water. It should be enough water that the cup is underwater. Pull the plunger up and down quickly to work to break up the clog.
An auger, or plumber’s name is a metal coil that goes down the pipes and breaks up the clogs. This is available at home improvement stores. Using a plumber’s snake requires you to wear rubber gloves and have a bucket as it is messy. The coil needs to go down a few inches into the drain. Then, you will turn the crank until it reaches the clog.
If you turn it the other way, the clog should come up. If you want to make sure that the pipes are clear, you will need to run the water or flush. It may take a few times to use the plumber’s snake to get the clog out.
Check out this video about Drano and septic systems.
Now that you know about other ways to unclog drains when you have a septic system, let’s look at other maintenance areas.
One of those is how to tell if the septic tank is full. This is important to know so you know when to contact a company to empty it. The signs it is complete are slow drainage of pipes, pooling water, smells, and plush lawns.
Next, if you just bought a home that has septic, you need to know where it is located. Trace the main sewer line, inspect your yard, and look for the lid, and property records. These will help you find them.
Lastly, there are a lot of things you need to do to maintain the septic tank. One of those is to increase bacteria in the tank naturally. This can be done by talking to the company that cleans out the septic about the additive that is right for the tank.
When to Contact a Professional
If you have a clog, remember that Drano is too harsh for your septic system. Using the right products or mixes is important. Call a master plumber if you are having issues or your local home inspection team. They can inspect the septic system and recommend a plumber.
Trying to fix it yourself will save you money, but if you find you are having issues, reach out to your local home inspection team. They can inspect your septic system during a full home inspection. Reach out to Alpha Building Inspections and they can inspect your septic system in Merrimack, NH, and surrounding areas.