Is it safe to unclog a urinal with acid?

Blockage in your urinal can lead to one of a business owner’s or tradesperson’s worst possible nightmares: a clogged p-trap. Being the place where most urinal related clogs take place, a blocked p-trap can produce awful smells that will drive customers from your bathrooms and out of your business. And while having a clogged p-trap can be difficult, finding the right drain treatment can be just as hard. There are a lot of different urinal p-trap unclogging products out there, but the first thing that might come to mind is one of the most volatile substances a tradesperson can get their hands on– sulfuric acid. However, with its reputation for being a highly corrosive and dangerous substance, one must ask oneself – Is it safe to unclog a urinal with acid?

Urinal P-Trap

Some people think that unclogging a urinal should be left to the professionals, as it can sometimes be very difficult. While most clogs in urinals are caused by a buildup of uric acid, over time creating what is called “uric scale”, different drain cleaners are great for certain types of clogs, pipes or drain lines and can be terrible for others. However, not every business owner can call a plumber every time there is a clog or a bad smell radiating from their urinals, so learning the basics of urinal maintenance (and discovering the drain treatments used to keep those urinals running smoothly) is key.

Using Acids to unclog a urinal drain.

First, sulfuric acid. While yes, it may be something that quickly eats through high concentrations of paper, rags, sanitary napkins, food scraps and all organic matter, sulfuric acid isn’t the best cleaner for all situations.

Yet all these things are the kinds of clogs anyone would encounter on a daily basis, so it would seem sulfuric acid seems like the perfect choice, right? Especially considering that it’s regarded as a drain treatment that’s very easy to use, can unclog a drain line in a short amount of time, plus is even sewer and septic safe because it naturally dilutes.

Finally, acid is safe on both cast iron and PVC pipes, so both old and new systems should remain unharmed. So perhaps the question shouldn’t be “is acid safe to unclog a urinal p-trap?” but “Why WOULDN’T a person use acid to unclog a urinal?”

The keyword to understanding why some people, business owners, and professional plumbers are apprehensive about using sulfuric acid to unclog their urinals is this: safety.

As previously mentioned, acid is a highly corrosive and dangerous substance. In fact, it’s highly recommended that sulfuric acid not even be used without the PPE (Proper Protection Equipment) which include chemical resistant gloves and safety goggles.

Also, when using acid to unclog a urinal all the windows in the washroom should be open (to prevent disgusting, noxious fumes that wreak of rotten eggs from building up) and the person using the acid should have a very good understanding of the SDS (Safety Data Sheet) before application of the substance.

Also, the combination of acid and water can be very dangerous, causing spitting or even smoke in the neutralizing process. However, the uplifting news is that the process of adding acid to water is much more secure than adding water to acid, so the reaction of the former won’t be as volatile as the latter.

Formic acid is another type of acid someone might use as a drain treatment on his or her urinal p-trap.  This acid is considered to be one of the “safer acids” which means a couple of things when it comes to being a drain cleaner. For starters, this means that this acid will once again work well with all sorts of pipes, cast iron and PVC included. Also, Formic acid is incredibly environmentally friendly and according to BASF, it will not produce any harmful chemicals that may get into water supplies. While it may seem like formic acid is your answer, there is one alternative that’s even better…

Brodi’s Urinal Drain Cleaner Product: Crete, a heavy duty urinal descaler.

Crete_1GalLet’s examine “Crete – Heavy Duty Urinal Descaler” by Brodi Specialty Products Ltd.

For starters, this drain treatment is the one best of the best when it comes to regular maintenance of your urinal p-trap and getting rid of the bad smell that urinals produce.

And while it contains both hydrochloric and formic acid, Brodi uses a different formula to avoid some of the downsides of using straight acid. Not only does it expertly destroy high concentrations of uric scale in urinals, it is also safe for use on all types of pipes, both old and new. Your cast iron or PVC pipes will be unaffected by this Brodi product.

With all types of pipes, Crete will first restore the urinal drain pipe to its original diameter, allowing for more flow and eliminating most types of blockages. Also, it releases no noxious (or rotten egg smelling) fumes while it works. Repeated application of this product will produce the best results, however, if used properly business owners will find their urinals to be clean and working efficiently.

Check this video to learn how to treat a urinal with Brodi Crete.

So the question of “Is it safe to unclog a urinal with acid?” has been answered. The answer: Sure, kind of, but the Brodi Products are probably anyone’s best bet.

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