Hydro Jetting vs. Drain Snaking Clogged Pipes

29 Jun

If water isn’t the only thing going down your drains, you’ll have to tackle a clogged pipe at some point. The question is: how are you going to fix it?

Most homeowners will likely reach for a drain cleaner, but why not use the tools that plumbers choose? At Brothers Plumbing, we shy away from cleaners such as Drano because they can have negative effects on your health and your pipes.

Drain snaking and hydro jetting are our go-to methods for clearing clogs.

Confused as to how these tools clear clogs? We made this guide to “clear up” any confusion and help you with drain-cleaning projects. Read on below to learn more about drain snakes and hydro jetters.

What is drain snaking?

A drain snake is a long and flexible metal tube that plumbers can use to unclog pipes or drains. This simple tool has multiple ridges and barbs that grab and break up debris as it moves.

Sometimes, people are talking about augers when they say drain snakes. They’re similar, but augers are much more powerful. Commercial-grade augers are pushed into drains mechanically and can feed lines upwards of a few hundred feet.

First, the snake is manually pushed into the pipe through the base of the drain. Once it has been fully inserted, it can be removed in a rotating motion by turning the hand crank.

After some twisting, pulling, and pushing, you should see a bunch of hair, buildup, and other gunk.

Types of Drain Snakes

We already talked about how the terms “drain snakes” and “augers” are sometimes used interchangeably. There are actually a few different types of drain snakes, but the differences won’t be apparent unless you’re a plumber.

You can use drain snakes as an umbrella term for a long tube used to clear clogs. Here are some of the tools that fall under that umbrella:

  • Top Snakes

    Top snakes are the smallest of the drain-clearing snakes, with a typical length of 25 feet. They are very compact and are usually used for small clogs in sinks or showers.

  • Toilet Auger

    This one is pretty self-explanatory. Toilet augers typically have design elements that make them ideal for clearing toilet clogs. They are perfect for clogs that can’t be removed with a plunger.

  • Mini-Rooter

    Think of mini-rooters as heavy-duty top snakes or a lighter sewer auger. These mid-sized augers usually have electric motors to propel the cable into drains and blockages.

  • Sewer Auger

    As the name suggests, this is the auger that plumbers use to clear sewer drains or pipes with a diameter of more than 3 inches. Sewer augers can remove almost any type of clog.

The Pros and Cons of Drain Snakes

Pros:

  • Cost-effective
  • Perfect for clearing minor clogs
  • Availability (call a plumber or visit a local hardware store)
  • They can be used on old, fragile pipes and drains

Cons:

  • You will likely have to repeat the process
  • You could damage pipes with the snake tip
  • You can scratch the porcelain if you’re not careful
  • Possible injury with incorrect use
  • Risk of dirty water splashing back

Drain snakes can be very effective at clearing small to mid-sized clogs if used properly. As you can see, most of the cons come from incorrect use. Leave drain cleaning to the pros if you don’t have DIY experience.

Don’t use a drain snake if:

  • The drain is clogged with a heavy amount of grease.
  • The main drain line has to be cleared from the roof.
  • Tree roots have broken through the pipe.
  • You have cast iron pipes that may be rusty.
  • You’ve previously repaired pipes with an epoxy liner.

What is hydro jetting?

Hydro jetting or power flushing uses high-pressure water and a specialized nozzle to force clogs and debris out of drains.

If you’ve ever cleaned your car or patio with a pressure washer, then you’ve seen pressurized water sprayed at around 2000 PSI.

At 5000 PSI, commercial hydro jetters from Brothers Plumbing are more than twice as powerful!

After being fed into the drain, a powerful stream of water pushes out grease, grime, hair, or whatever is causing the clog.

Hydro jetters come with various nozzles and power settings to clear clogs of all sizes. A camera may be used to inspect your drain for damage and assess the clog before hydro jetting.

The Pros and Cons of Hydro Jetters

Pros:

  • Extremely effective at clearing debris and gunk entirely
  • Cleans pipes while removing clogs
  • It needs to be done less often than drain snaking
  • Clears sewer line clogs without having to dig for pipe access
  • Hydro jetting pushes gunk away from you (unlike snaking)
  • Can often slice through blockages caused by tree roots

Cons:

  • No possibility of DIY—this has to be done by a pro
  • May be too aggressive for older pipes
  • High water consumption
  • Sometimes less effective at removing severe obstructions than an auger

Don’t use a hydro jetter for:

  • Relatively simple or soft clogs.
  • Heavy buildup in old pipes.
  • Clogged drains with no cleanout (a capped pipe that connects to the sewer line).
  • Cleanouts in crawl spaces, as flooding will occur.

Is one better than the other?

Not really; it just depends on the type or severity of the clog that you’re trying to clear. Drain snakes are limited by their reach and the user’s dexterity. If you have a deep clog, you may not have any other choice but to use a hydro jetter.

A hydro jetter can easily clear a blocked drain, but will it damage your pipes? The last thing you’ll want is the wrong tool, creating an even bigger problem for your pipes.

The professionals at Brothers Plumbing use power flushing as a last resort, not a first response. We can quickly assess the situation and switch between drain snakes and hydro jetting if necessary.

Still unsure?

Not to worry. At Brothers Plumbing, we’ve been performing drain cleaning in Toronto for over 50 years, so let us help! For more information, call us at 800-741-8471 or click here to send us an email.

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