Perhaps your kitchen sink is sporting a significant clog. Despite your best efforts, the clog persists, refusing to budge. So, in your haste to remove the clog, you pour Drano down the drain in hopes of easy removal. However, it doesn’t seem to be working, so you decide to leave it in the drain to allow it to work.
Now, it’s been several hours, or maybe even overnight, but you’re beginning to second guess things. Will there be adverse side effects from not flushing the leftover solution from the plumbing? We’re here to answer this question, so continue reading to learn more!
What Is Drano?
Drano is a popular brand of chemical drain cleaner often used to tackle tough clogs in kitchen and bathroom sinks, bathtubs, and shower drains. The ingredient list in any Drano product may include things like aluminum, salt, bleach, sodium nitrate, and lye.
Of course, there are different Drano products, some stronger than others, so the ingredient list varies. Because of the variation, the instructions on each type may differ slightly from the other, as you’ll need to be more careful with the more potent mixtures.
Can You Leave Drano In The Drain Overnight?
The answer to this question is subjective based on your scenario. Drano is a pretty simple product – you don’t need fancy skills or training to use it. Simply read the instructions, open the bottle, and use it to the manufacturer’s instructions. Simple, right?
It isn’t hard to use, but if you misuse it, it can be harmful. Drano’s official website states the product is safe for use with plastic pipes and metal pipes. So, as long as you follow the instructions, you shouldn’t have any issues.
That said, you need to abide by these instructions. If you decide to add extra time to the waiting period, you could potentially damage the interior of your plumbing. There are several different types of Drano, so it ultimately depends on the type in question.
What Happens If I Forget To Flush Drano?
Sometimes, you might pour Drano in your sink to tackle a problematic clog, then walk away. Perhaps you start working on a different task and forget about the troublesome sink altogether. So, the drain cleaner might’ve sat in the sink for upwards of several hours.
While leaving Drano in the drain for a while might help loosen stubborn clogs, it can also compromise the pipeline’s fitness. Some types of Drano can be left in the drain for extended periods, while others will damage the plumbing if left for too long. So, it depends on the type you’re using.
Certain types of Drano are highly corrosive and harmful to human health and your plumbing system. These products can do more harm than good in some cases.
On the other hand, some Drano products are lightly corrosive. These ones, like the Drano Max Build-Up Remover, can be left in the drain for 6-8 hours (or even overnight). The product doesn’t contain the caustic ingredients found in other Drano products, like bleach and sulfuric acid. It does have caustic soda (as a pH adjuster), but it’s such a small ratio that it shouldn’t cause issues.
Will Drano Damage Plumbing?
Yes and no – Drano will damage plumbing in some cases but not others. Why? As we mentioned earlier, not all of the Drano mixtures contain the same ingredients. Because of this, certain products are stronger than others.
The “gentler” products are unlikely to damage the plumbing in your home. They can be left in the drain for hours on end without adverse side effects. In some cases, you can even leave the cleaner in the drain overnight.
However, the “gentle” nature doesn’t extend throughout all Drano products. After all, they are known for their powerful cleaning abilities. Most folks use Drano when every other home remedy fails, so these cleaners are pretty toxic.
The harsher Drano products can wreak havoc on the plumbing beneath your sink, especially if you leave it there for a while. In some cases, the instant gratification of quickly unclogging your sink is tarnished by long-term damage.
Generally, using Drano once every now and again shouldn’t cause any issues or damage your plumbing. However, if you frequently use Drano, there’s a good chance you’re damaging your plumbing.
Aside from damaged plumbing, Drano can sometimes cause more harm than good for the clog, too. In some instances, the mixture causes the clog to become a solid, congealed mass, which is extremely difficult to remove, even with caustic drain cleaners.
If the clog is composed of regular food scraps or starch build-up, it’s doubtful Drano will cause this issue. However, when the clog is primarily composed of fats, oils, and grease, the chances of a congealed mass forming are high. Sometimes, the clog can become bad enough that you’ll need a professional plumber to remove the issue for you.
When Shouldn’t I Use Drano?
Although Drano might be a solid, reliable solution for clogged drains, there are some particular cases where you should never use Drano. In these scenarios, Drano will likely worsen the problem, making it too large for most homeowners to handle independently.
Here are a few scenarios where you should skip using Drano altogether:
- With a plunger: If Drano is a last resort, you might’ve tried using a sink plunger beforehand. While you might be tempted to try the combination to release the clog, avoid using the plunger with Drano. Splashes of the product could get in contact with your skin or eyes, which can cause severe irritation. Additionally, the fumes can be hard on your lungs.
- With another cleaner: If you’ve already tried using a different cleaning product, don’t add Drano to the mix. You never know what kind of chemical reactions might occur due to the combination of the cleaners. For example, mixing Drano with bleach can produce toxic gases that result in eye irritation and breathing difficulties.
- In a toilet: Drano’s manufacturers explicitly state that Drano shouldn’t be used in a toilet. There’s a trap mechanism in toilets that prevents the product from reaching the problem in question. So, when Drano sits in the toilet, it can cause the bowl to crack and might even melt PVC pipes.
- On old, corroded plumbing: If you have an older home, you might have a corroded metal plumbing system. Drano can soften these pipes, as they’re already compromised due to corrosion. In some scenarios, Drano can even break the pipe, eating away at the glue securing the pipes together. So, if you have an older home with worn-out plumbing, avoid Drano altogether.
How Long Should You Leave Drano In The Drain For?
Generally, you should leave Drano in your sink or shower drain for no longer than 10 to 15 minutes. Any longer, and you might risk damaging your plumbing. The chemicals in the mixture should react with the clog, clearing the issue within the span of a few minutes.
If the clog is especially difficult, you can leave the solution in the drain for 30 minutes, but no longer. Drano should react to the clog immediately and solve the problem within minutes, so leaving the solution in the drain for any longer than 30 minutes will likely do more harm than good.
Of course, the length of time may vary based on the particular product. For example, if you’re using the Drano Build-Up Remover for routine maintenance, you can leave it in longer, as the mixture is considerably milder than regular Drano.
Ultimately, you should always follow the manufacturer’s use instructions. They vary based on the particular Drano product, so be sure to familiarize yourself with the instructions before using the product.
How To Flush Drano From Your Drain
After the waiting period passes and Drano has done its job, you need to flush the drain. You can easily move the product through your plumbing system by flushing it down with warm to hot water. Use the temperature that is best for your plumbing.
For example, avoid using boiling water if you have PVC pipes, as this can melt the plumbing. Stick to warm/hot water to rinse the mixture from your drains. Simply run the water for a few minutes, allowing the remnants of the drain cleaner to wash out of the drain and through the plumbing system to the septic system.
What Should I Do If Drano Doesn’t Work?
Perhaps you tried a lengthy list of drain-unclogging methods to eliminate the problem, and Drano was your last resort option. Unfortunately, Drano might not have worked, leaving you with the same problem and a cocktail of drain cleaner in your drain.
So, now what? If you’ve tried everything but to no avail, your best option is a professional plumber. They might have to remove the clog manually, depending on how bad it is. If you can’t solve the problem yourself, it’s best to pass the issue to a trained professional.
It’s better to pay a plumber for a quick repair than hundreds (even thousands) to repair busted plumbing.