Dealing with a clogged or slow-flowing drain is one of the most common plumbing issues in any home. Blocked drains not only create an inconvenience but can also lead to more severe plumbing problems if left unaddressed. While homeowners may attempt clearing a minor clog using DIY methods, serious or recurring drain blockages often require a professional plumber’s expertise and the right tools. Plumbers have specialized tools and methods for unclogging the toughest drain obstructions.
Here are the top 3 most essential and effective tools used by plumbers when called on to unblock drains:
The auger, often referred to as a drain or plumber’s snake, is likely a plumber’s first choice for tackling a simple clog. This versatile, handheld tool can clear blockages in sinks, tubs, showers and other home drains.
An auger features a long, flexible steel cable housed inside a metal drum. At the end of the cable is an applied corkscrew-shaped auger bit. Plumbers carefully feed the rotating auger bit down into the drain line. The auger’s twisting action grabs hold of debris like hair, grease, soap residue and small objects lodged in the drain. Once caught by the auger, clogs can be extracted as the cable is retrieved.
For drains and pipes up to 3 inches wide, a standard hand crank auger is used. Larger electric and gas-powered augers can drill through bigger lines. Augers come in a variety of sizes, but styles and lengths depending on the application. Plumbers select the right auger to match the drain.
An auger is an indispensable tool that every plumber relies on to clear initial drain clogs and determine if further service is needed. They often succeed in removing the obstruction on the first attempt.
2. Hydro Jetting Machine
While great for minor clogs, an auger has limitations. Serious obstructions or buildup can block an auger. Extensive drain cleaning requires hydrojetting.
Hydro jet drain cleaning utilizes high-pressure water propelled through the drain line to scour and dislodge blockages. Up to 4000 PSI pressure is used. This blast of hot water is more forceful than augers for cutting through and flushing away years of accumulated sludge in pipes.
Plumbers use truck or trailer-mounted hydrojetter machines holding 30 to 100 gallons of water in a tank. The machines contain powerful gas engines and pumps to generate water pressure. Hoses run from the machines to handheld jetting guns allowing precise drain access. Nozzles on jetter hoses direct powerful sprays in all directions for maximum cleaning.
Some benefits of hydrojetting include:
- Clears years of buildup an auger cannot penetrate.
- Empties the entire drain line so water flows freely.
- Less risk of drain damage compared to augers.
- Can clean lines up to 300 feet long.
- Useful for practically any drain issue.
Hydrojetting is an ideal solution when drains remain backed up after augering or display extensive clogs and sewage residue. By blasting blockages loose, hydro jetters provide a deep, comprehensive drain cleaning.
3. Camera/Video Inspection
The most technologically advanced tool in a plumber’s arsenal is the video drain inspection camera. These waterproof “pipe scope” cameras provide plumbers with a live visual perspective inside drains.
Cameras come as handheld portable reels or larger push rod models. The wired camera tip is carefully fed down the drain and pipes while transmitting video back to the plumber. This offers a precise view of the drain interior to accurately pinpoint clogs, defects, breaks, obstructions and damage not visible otherwise.
Plumbers use video inspection to:
- Diagnose the exact source and location of a clog before augering. This allows accessing clogs in the most efficient manner.
- Confirm drain lines are 100% cleared after hydrojetting with no remaining obstructions or residual debris.
- Identify hidden issues like pipe cracks or collapsed joints not evident from drain performance. Catching defects early prevents major leaks or bursts down the road.
- Map drain lines under floors and foundations serving as a blueprint for future drainage repairs if needed.
- Provide visual proof of drain condition to homeowners.
Camera inspection usage has improved plumbing services and eliminated guesswork when clearing drains. Being able to “see” problems allows plumbers to work quickly and strategically.
Advanced camera models even integrate augering so the snake can be steered precisely using the live footage. This takes drain cleaning accuracy to the next level.
Call In The Experts!
Some drain clogs may appear manageable for DIY methods. But when you want the job done right, turning to professional plumbers and their specialized tools is crucial. A combination of augers, hydro jetting and cameras can conquer the most difficult drain blockages.
By investing in advanced equipment and proper training, reputable plumbers have an arsenal of techniques to clear drains thoroughly and prevent recurrence. Don’t waste time wrestling with frustrating clogged drains yourself. Call the experts to have your drains flowing freely again quickly and efficiently.