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Old 05-15-2009, 01:29 PM   #1
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Grey Water Drain Cleaner

Hi,

Over time small food scraps, hair, etc. can build up and slow the drains. Would a drain cleaner like Draino or Liquid Plumber harm anything?

Walt
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Old 05-15-2009, 04:03 PM   #2
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With plastic pipe it is just as easy to remove the trap and clean it. As for the shower, which is hard to get at, I cut a hole in the center of a rubber drain stop and press a garden hose to the hole while my wife turns on the water.

Beach sand is the culprit in the shower.
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Old 05-15-2009, 04:26 PM   #3
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Murratic acid does a good job. Will not hurt the plastic. Use caution, this stuff can burn you badly.
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Old 05-15-2009, 04:44 PM   #4
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Unlike "as seen on tv" drain cleaners only work till they eat an exit path for the cleaner and then they flow on past the clog.

All to often the blockage in a sink or bath tub is around the stopper mechanism and above the liquid level in the trap. So filling the trap with cleaner won't do much.
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Old 05-15-2009, 06:24 PM   #5
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I use white vinegar. You add a gallon to the tank & fill with water. Let it stand for 24 -48 then dump. Be sure to dump some down each drain to clear out most of the residue buildup left by soaps. rinse out the drains when you dump the tank.

FWIW Add a gallon of lemon juice to your fresh water tank & fill. Turn the pump on & let it run to fill all of the lines. Turn on the water heater for one cycle. Let this sit for 24 - 48 hours. Thenflush out the lines to remove. It's nontoxic & makes the AS smell nice. Note: this only cleans out & does not sanitize.

Ricky
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Old 05-15-2009, 08:27 PM   #6
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Acid or Base?

Hi,
I'm stuck home this weekend instead of going to the Tumalo rally due to an intestinal flu (My wife -- I got over it yesterday). So, on to pursue this question.

HowieE, I like the physical flush, inventive idea, but that probably only helps with a totally blocked pipe. With a partially blocked pipe with something more sticky than sand, it might not be so effective. This is probably the best idea I've seen for use at the beach where sand in the shower drain is the issue.

dbl435, Muriatic acid is another name for hyrdocloric acid and yes it can be very strong (What concentration do you use?). So, is it somehow better to use a strong acid vs. a strong base (Draino & Liquid Plumber) to eat away at a build-up?

3 Dog Nite, this is interesting, white vinegar is typically a 3 to 5% solution of Acetic acid (Again an acid vs. a base). With the low concentration, I can see that the relatively long working time would be needed. For this purpose, the time is probably not an issue and, if it does the job and is an organic that breaks down to harmless compounds like Acetic acid usually does, it's probably a good solution (No pun intended).

Now, it seems an elaboration of my posted question is in order:
1st - the original question) Will a base, like sodium hydroxide, cause harm to the system?

2nd) Is there some reason an acid would work better than a base in a trailer system vs. a base, seemingly better since it is in the commercial products, does in a household system?

NOTE: Sodium hydroxide reacts and breaks down to usually harmless compounds depending on what it reacts with - similar to an acid in that regard.

Walt
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Old 05-15-2009, 08:36 PM   #7
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The pipe runs are so short and accessible, why not pull a bottle brush through the pipes periodically? That would get rid of any buildup easily and quickly.
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Old 05-15-2009, 08:55 PM   #8
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Hi Cameront120,

Those are some beautiful dogs -- I envy you.

I guess it's been a long time since I looked. So, they still sell bottle brushes?

That would work of course. It would mean pulling the traps to get past them. I was hoping for something simpler, that wouldn't require wrenches.
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Old 05-15-2009, 09:12 PM   #9
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Thanks, the two pups are a joy. Yes, you can still get bottle brushes. I figure that you'd only have to clean the pipes once every long while, so it might be a worthwhile option to using chemicals.
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Old 05-15-2009, 10:12 PM   #10
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My wife puts some Dawn down the sink each day we are out. About once every two weeks she uses a full bottle. Its the best grease cutter we have found. Obviously, its more of a preventive than a blockage breaker especially if the blockage is primarily made up of solids. However, it seems to get rid of the grease which will build up and cause lots of problems in the tank.
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Old 05-16-2009, 08:27 AM   #11
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Acids (strong ones) will attack organics (grease, hair, soap scum) and clean them right out. If you have bases in the drains (any srong soap or degreaser) you can get a violent reaction. Acids work wonders but can be dangerous to work with. The smell is terible and a good supply of fresh air is needed. Once the system is cleaned out it must be flushed with lots of water. Then neutralize with a little dish soap and flush again.
Rubber gloves, face shield, safety glasses and rubber apron are a must.
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Old 05-16-2009, 12:31 PM   #12
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Hi again,

The fact that a strong acid will react with a soap to replace the OH ions with H ions means it will turn a soap buildup back into a fat (Not water soluble), may be why the comercial products are strong bases vs. acids. Using a base will also avoid the possibly eruptive reaction and gassing of an acid.

Back to the original question. Will a base, like sodium hydroxide, cause harm to the system?

Walt
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Old 05-17-2009, 06:27 AM   #13
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The only part in the system you can harm is the dump valve. If the system is flushed after the drains are clean you should be fine. The gate on most valves is stainless steel and short term exposure to these harsh chemicals will be OK. I've been pretty agressive with my cleaning methods and haven't hurt anything yet. The system is plastic (mostly) so the only big no-no's are solvents like acetone or MEK. Acids and bases are fine as long as you flush everything out after it's clean. I always follow the flush with some deoderizer-lubricant (the blue stuff) to lube the system.
After cleaning a system, I've never had to do it again. Once eveything is flowing again you normally only need to do regular cleaning. Every time I get back from a trip I do a good flush and dump. This gets most of the crud out. If the system is put away dirty then it can dry out and leave caked on crud in the lines.
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Old 05-18-2009, 11:04 AM   #14
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Thanks dlb435,

So, the the knife valve is the only part (Metal) to be concerned about in the system with regard to strong acid or base cleaners. It's stainless and can take it for short duration before rinsing/flushing all the way through the plumbing system and out to the septic or sewer. I appreciate the clarification.

Walt
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