One of the best recent advances in the plumbing field has been the development of biological drain cleaners as an alternative to dangerous and ecologically harmful acid-based chemicals.
The best of these products, in my opinion, is Bio-Clean, which is sold only by plumbing contractors. Bio-Clean is a mixture of bacteria and naturally-occurring enzymes. It comes in a powder and remains dormant in its protective container until you apply the right amount of water and pour the solution into your drain. Then the bacteria come to life and start searching for food that we would consider extremely yucky but is gourmet dining to them.
Once fed, they begin to multiply and eat their way through the filth of drain lines, septic tanks, cesspools, RV holding tanks and grease traps without harming pipes, containers or any other inorganic material. Bio-Clean also works great for removing odor from kitty litter boxes, as well as toilets and urinals. You can pour it on virtually any kind of organic spill and watch the gooey mess slowly disappear like the Cheshire Cat.
Bio-Clean is completely safe and commonly used in hospitals, nursing homes, restaurants and other places subject to stringent health inspections. You do not need to worry about using it around children, pets or plants because it only attacks dead organic tissue, not live matter. People can even ingest Bio-Clean without any ill effects. (Its sales reps are fond of doing this.)
Bio-Clean is not only better for the environment than the household drain cleaners sold in supermarkets, it works better too. The popular drain cleaners are basically diluted acid. When you pour the liquid or crystals down a drain, these chemicals succumb to gravity. They can’t climb the side and ceiling walls of pipes, so they can’t reach the waste that clogs most of the interior. All they can do is burn a small tunnel through the bottom of the accumulation. Picture a 2-inch diameter pipe with about a 1/4-inch diameter tube resting on the inside bottom. The larger cylinder represents the accumulated waste matter blocking your drain line, the smaller tube the tunnel burrowed by the caustic chemical. It doesn’t take long for that small hole to get blocked once again.
Sometimes the blockage is so dense that it cannot be completely penetrated by the chemical. Instead the chemical accumulates until it burns a hole in the pipe wall, or reacts with grease in the system to form a caustic soap that can congeal into a substance as hard as concrete. These caustic soap dams can be harder to eliminate than the original waste stoppage.
In contrast, Bio-Clean bacteria spread out along the entire inner surface of the pipe wall, eating waste away from all areas of the cylinder. Depending on the size and type of blockage, it may take 3 to 14 days for the bugs to consume all collected waste inside household drain pipes. When finished, those drain lines will be almost as clean as the day they were installed.
Initial treatment usually requires applying for about five consecutive days a mixture of 1 tablespoon of Bio-Clean mixed with 1 pint of lukewarm water, for each inch of pipe diameter. Afterwards, a single treatment about once a month is usually sufficient for maintenance. Regular treatments mean no more slow drains.
For extremely clogged drains, our technician might recommend a drain line rodding as part of the initial treatment. That’s because most stoppages are caused not by a small blob but by several feet of “gunk” along the pipe’s interior. It may take several days for the bacteria to eat through a long blockage. Regular maintenance treatments with Bio-Clean will prevent new build-up.
In other cases, a rodding may be needed to remove inorganic compounds that might get trapped in the drain line, such as children’s toys. (Bio-Clean will work on toilet paper, tissue and sanitary napkins, because they’re all made from organic substances.)
Each 2-lb. can of Bio-Clean contains about 100 drain treatments. For most households, this should be more than a year’s worth of maintenance treatments. It costs less than a single rodding with a drain cleaning machine, and is much more gentle on your fixtures and pipes.
Remember, you won’t find Bio-Clean sold in stores. An annual Bio-Clean treatments are included as part of our Family Service Plan maintenance agreement. You may purchase additional containers from the technician who visits your home.