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Your essential guide to drain unblockers

Drain blockages are never good news for a household; they can cause problems such as the disruption of your drainage, the stoppage of wastewater from leaving your property, and the occurrence of nasty odours. Drain blockages are caused by a variety of different matter clogging the drain including hair, soap scum, grease and food particles, amongst others. Depending on what the clog is made from, how serious it is and how urgent it needs to be cleared, will all indicate whether a professional team or a shop-bought drain cleaner is needed. So read on and take a look at our essential guide to drain unblockers.

Your essential guide to drain unblockers

Chemical cleaners

This group of cleaners work by using chemical reactions to remove an obstruction, dissolve grease and to eliminate blockage odours. These drain cleaners add or remove electrons (negatively charged subatomic particles that are found in all atoms) to break down the clogs.

Caustic drain cleaners:

Often containing lye and caustic potash, these drain cleaners are bases, which means they work by donating electrons to whatever material is clogging the drain. This creates a reaction that clears the blockage, and because this cleaning substance is heavier than water it can reach the obstruction easily through standing water.

Oxidising drain cleaners:

These chemicals contain substances such as household bleaches, nitrates and peroxides. They work by causing any organic material contained in an obstruction to lose electrons and become oxidised. This process acts to clear blockages and, like caustic cleaners, it is heavier than water so it can sink to reach the clog.

Acid drain cleaners:

Heavy duty and containing high concentrations of sulphuric and/or hydrochloric acid, these cleaners are so potent they are often not sold in stores and are most commonly used by plumbers. These acidic cleaners take electrons from the blockage, breaking it down. This chemical reaction releases heat which can melt down any grease that might be present.

  • Usually safe and easy to use if instructions are carefully followed and protective measures are implemented.
  • Cheap to buy.
  • They are very fast-acting, rapidly relieving your problem.


  • The generation of heat by these unblockers may possibly soften the PVC in pipes, though this damage is rare if they are used properly; damage is actually more likely to occur in metal pipes.
  • Chemical cleaners release noxious fumes, are toxic when swallowed, and can burn eyes, skin and clothing.
  • They are not good for all jobs e.g. toilets, or more persistent and solid blockages. In these cases it is best to call in a professional.

Enzymatic cleaners

More gentle and environmentally-friendly, enzymatic drain cleaners use bacteria and/or enzymes to feed on the organic matter that blocks drains. The bacteria and enzymes also spread throughout the septic system, which is beneficial for it.


  • More gentle and less dangerous than chemical cleaners, enzymatic cleaners do not cause as many problems if released into soil and water systems. Therefore, it boasts a status as being more environmentally friendly than chemical cleaners.


  • Not as readily available in stores as chemical cleaners.
  • Because of their slow-acting nature (a few hours) they are not ideal for obstructions that require urgent unclogging.

Home remedies

If you are more of a DIY kind of person then there are a multitude of home remedies that have been concocted by fellow homeowners you could use. Most of these utilise products found in the average kitchen cupboard, creating mixtures that are usually less harsh than chemical cleaners. Just browse online to see what tricks people have devised.

Call in a professional

Not all drainage issues can be safely and effectively resolved by a homeowner; in these cases, it is always wise to call in a drainage specialist who will be able to identify the cause of the problem and nurse your drainage system back to health.

If you’re looking for a professional to blast the blockages, then the drainage experts at Jet Rod are here to help. We’ve been providing our comprehensive drainage services since 1988, serving the Warrington, Macclesfield, Stockport and Crewe areas. For more information please contact our friendly team, who are happy to answer any enquiries.  



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