Sulfuric Acid is a chemical that can unclog blockages in drain pipes.
Although the chemical itself is colorless, the Sulfuric Acid based drain cleaning products that you’ll find in hardware stores will vary in color. This is because many brands will mix the acid with other chemicals such as foaming agents.
Note that most plumbers do not recommend the use of chemicals such as Sulfuric Acid for drain cleaning. This is because they can be dangerous and they can cause damage to drainage systems. In a lot of cases, they will also prove to be a total waste of money.
The dangers of Sulfuric Acid.
Sulfuric Acid is no joke. If you do not take the proper precautions while using it, you may blind yourself or end up with chemical burns. You must also be mindful of the fumes that it releases, as these can be fatal if they are inhaled.
I repeat: Sulfuric acid is no joke. It can be extremely dangerous if you do not handle it with care.
When Sulfuric Acid is poured down a drain, it will “react” with the compounds that are clogging it. This reaction can produce a mixture of gases, such as Sulfur Dioxide and Hydrogen Sulfide. In the past, people have died because they inhaled too many fumes while using Sulfuric Acid. These fumes can lead to tissue damage and life threatening conditions such as pulmonary edema.
When Sulfuric Acid is added to water, an exothermic reaction will occur. This can cause the acid to boil and spit, resulting in dangerous splashes.
Sulfuric Acid is useful for unblocking drains because it can break down organic material. Unfortunately, a lot of people seem to forget the fact that they are also made out of organic material.
Precautions to take when using Sulfuric Acid.
Long rubber gloves and safety goggles are a must. Do you really want to risk your eyesight because you were too lazy to purchase a pair of safety goggles? One splash is all it could take for you to spend the rest of your life regretting your decision.
All windows should be opened. If you have extractor fans, make sure that they are turned on. If possible, you should place a fan facing toward your open window so that fumes are pushed out.
A respirator mask may also be needed, depending on the location and how difficult it is for the fumes to escape. If you are unable to purchase a respirator mask, then you should hold your breath while you are pouring the acid.
When pouring the acid into a body of water, you should pour it slowly and follow any safety recommendations that are written on the bottle. A lot of these products will recommend that you pour 200ml at a time and that you take a 30 second pause between each pour.
It is usually a bad idea to dump an the entire bottle of acid into a body of water.
Make sure that you remove any excess water from the top of the blockage. For example: If your sink drain is blocked, then you should remove excess water from the basin so that you can pour the acid directly into the drain.
Generally speaking, you should not be mixing Sulfuric Acid with any other chemicals. For instance: If you mix the acid with bleach, there is a possibility that you could inadvertently create Chlorine Gas.
Finally: Please do not use industrial strength products inside your home unless the packaging specifically tells you that it is OK. i.e. Don’t pour an outside drain unblocker down your toilet.
Does Sulfuric Acid always work?
No. Although it is worth a try, Sulfuric Acid can prove to be useless against clogs that are too far away from the drain that you are pouring it into. Sometimes, the blockage can be further away than you think. If the acid does manage to reach a clog that is far away, it may be too diluted to remove it.
In cases like this, it may be tempting to pour more Sulfuric Acid down the drain. However, this may damage your drainage system and still fail to work. It also extremely dangerous! In the end, you could spend more money on Sulfuric Acid than the price of calling out an experienced plumber.
Diluting Sufuric Acid.
OK, so you’ve poured too much Sulfuric Acid down your drain and now you’re left with an acidic mess that smells like rotten eggs.
To dilute this mess and prevent (further) damage, you should buy a box of baking soda and mix it with water. You should then pour this baking soda solution into the drain in question.
Baking soda is alkaline and can help to neutralize the acid.