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Drain clogs are a problem for every homeowner at some point. Materials get stuck in toilet and sink drains or build up over time and result in slow drains or overflows. If your plunger won’t move the clog, you need something a little more powerful. Plumbers often use a plumbing auger or a hydro jet when clogs just won’t budge. Each is designed for different types of clogs.
Plumbing Snakes (Traditional Clog Clearing)
Plumbing snakes, also called plumbing augers, consist of a long metal tube at one end with a cable inside that has a corkscrew auger or blades attached, and a hand crank at the other. The cable end of the snake is placed in the drain and you turn the crank end to extend the cable down the drain. When it reaches the clog you can feel the resistance and must turn the crank to push through the clog and then pull it out of the drain. Plumbing snakes may have a straight tube or a J-shaped bend. The straight tube style is intended for sink drains, while the J-shaped snakes are intended for toilets.
What is Hydro Jetting?
Hydro jetting consists of a high-pressure hose with a specialized nozzle connected to a machine that pressurizes the water, producing a powerful stream that clears the drain. Hydro jetting is usually done through a cleanout, which is an opening that allows plumbers to clean out clogs. The water is forced down the drain, where it pushes grease, mineral build-up, hair and other debris through the drain. With a powerful enough hydro jet, tree roots can also be broken up. However, before using a hydro jet, a plumber typically inspects the drain with a small camera to determine if the pipe is damaged.
Pros and Cons
A plumbing snake is ideal for minor clogs or when an item such as a toy gets stuck in the drain. If your plunger doesn’t remove the material, a snake is usually enough to remove most clogs. Snakes can also alert you to more serious problems. For example, if it can’t break through the material, you may have a tree root in the line, and not a buildup of hair. A hydro jet, on the other hand, doesn’t just break up clogs, it clears your plumbing lines of material that builds up on pipe walls, such as minerals and grease. Snaking doesn’t thoroughly clean your pipes, so it is a temporary solution to many types of clogs. While hydro jetting can clear almost any clog, it’s not an option for the do-it-yourselfer. If your pipes are damaged or weak, a hydro jet may cause more damage, so it is a process that should be done by a professional plumber to avoid damaging your plumbing.
Advantages of Hydro Jetting Sewer Lines
- Cleaning, not just unclogging. Accumulations of grease, soap and other components of sludge inside the pipe are often the precursor to recurrent sewer clogs. Unfortunately, a rotating snake does little other than punch a hole in the clog to restore flow. It doesn’t address the ongoing issues of sludge that are likely to result in a recurrence very soon. Hydro-jetting cleans the internal pipe for a more long-lasting resolution.
- More economical. A single pipe cleaning with a hydro-jetting system can delay the need for another service call to clear blockages or tree roots up to four times longer than a typical procedure with a mechanical snake. This reduces sewer service expenses over the long term.
The Best Choice
The best way to clear your clogged plumbing lines depends on the cause of the problem. Hydro jetting is a solution that’s best when clogs can’t be removed using a plumbing snake, such as heavy sludge and grease that has built up over time, or tree roots. Plumbing snakes are ideal for slow-draining lines or to remove occasional blockages, such as too much toilet paper or food stuck in your sink drain.