Sulfuric Acid Drain Cleaner

Reminds me of this little nugget about the importance of clear communication. It doesn’t answer the OP but may give a moment of comic relife. This goes back long before the Internet was invented. I can remember when it was being distributed by people using carbon paper and Xerox machines to send copies around the office.

What seems paradoxical to some is that concentrated sulfuric acid is quite safely stored in carbon steel tanks and pipes. It forms a passivating layer of iron sulfide that protects the steel. The iron sulfide layer is water soluble, so don’t try it with dilute sulfuric acid. I only use it down to 93%, and then I keep a close eye on my air dryers. Even atmospheric H2O can provide enough water to dissolve the passivation. You also have to watch out for line velocity, too much turbulence can scrub away the pssivating layer as well. In any case, not safe for steel pipe in drains, where water is pretty much a given.

This is not directly relevant to the OP, but it may help.

I had a sink drain that was very slow draining. Using regular drain cleaners would help for a while, but it would soon slow again. I found some Drano Professional Strength Build-up Remover. It contains bacteria cultures and enzymes - I left it overnight and after the usual plunging with a sink plunger the drain ran clear and I haven’t had a problem since.

I always let plenty of water run before I do it, so the acid is all but neutralized anyway.

But I imagine this scenario happens in apartment buildings. One tenant dumps acid down the drain, another tenant dumps lye down the drain, and a third unfortunate tenant happens to innocently be sitting on the toilet…

It would take a lot to alter the pH of a septic tank. Much more than a quart at least.

It is a safe bet though. I don’t ever recall seeing anything other than PVC drainpipes since we moved over from lead. I suspect that the acid met some water and the exothermic reaction melted the pipe, but that’s just a guess.

You’ve never seen a steel drain pipe? I have one under my sink right now.

When I worked in rental property management, our leases stated that tenants do not use chemical drain clearers. Anyone in our office would come to your place and snake out a clean line. A line with chemical stuff in it required a call to the plumber and a $200 (at least) bill.

I’ve had tenants flush drain cleaner down stopped up toilets. Horrible mess, especially if the toilet overflowed.

lots of ABS (Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene) is used in waste piping in walls.

Seem to be a lot of acid bashers about. So I ask…have you ever seen the inside of an iron drainpipe? It is a jagged mess. Rust is strange stuff. Forums almost cryltaline stalgmites and stalagites throughout. Just waiting to snag some hair or tampons. Snaking will get rid of the clog of the day. But acid ( if used right) will return the inside of the pipe to a proper smooth surface. And then water will flow, smooth as butter.

I work with acids everyday, so I am not afraid of them. They will burn you and that is all (unlike gasoline or wood strippers or countess other stuff which will give you a lymphoma 20 years later.)

Also, I have an old farm with threes houses, dating 1880. Which all used some old iron plumping, with pre-code methods. So, acid is a useful tool.

strong chemicals used in drain cleaning can blind you.

there are times when strong chemicals need to be used with know how and caution. often chemicals aren’t a first resort compared to physical processes because of the danger involved. drain cleaning for the average person is one of them.

When the acid removes all the stalgmites and stalagites where they were sitting the metal is thinner and the acid can make it even thinner an begin to leak. And I have seen the inside of more drain pipe than wanted to.

Snaking it with the proper cutter will remove the junk and not attack the pipe.