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Which is Best to Clear Your Clogged Drain? Plumbing Snake vs. Hydrojet

One of the most common problems encountered by professional plumbers is a clogged drain or sewer line. A plumber will always prefer a mechanical removal rather than using caustic drain clearing products that will damage your pipes. Generally speaking, there are two effective methods, the plumbing snake and the hydrojet. Many people wonder how a plumber decides which to use. Is one method superior to the other? In this article, we will take a closer look at both and explain the types of scenarios where they are used.

Is One Method Better Than the Other?

Not really, both the plumbing snake and the hydro jet are effective at removing clogs, but they have their own set of pros and cons to consider. There are many different types of drain problems, and this will have an impact on the method chosen. Any tool can shine in a specific situation and be virtually useless at other times. So, let’s examine the plumbing snake and hydro jet in a little more detail.

What is a Plumbing Snake?

You may see this tool referred to as a plumbing augur, but both snake and augur are the same tools. The basic version of a straight plumbing snake is a metal tube that contains a cable. At one end of the tube, there is a drill bit or blade, and at the opposite end, there is a crank. The crank and drill bit are connect together with the cable, and when you turn the crank, the drill bit rotates.

To use the plumbing snake, you insert it into the drain and push it gently until it butts up against the clog. Then you back the snake up a little and turn the crank to drill the business end into the clog. The clog is then twisted around the auger, and you can pull it out of the drain. Sometimes the clog breaks apart entirely, and the pieces can be flushed away with water.

A straight plumbing snake works well to clear clogs from sink drains. There is also a plumbing auger with a J-bend, which is used to clear clogs from toilet bowls. Both types of plumbing snakes are readily available at your nearest DIY supplier in a variety of sizes. An experienced plumber may use a larger plumbing snake that’s motorized to handle a stubborn or deeper clog. This tool may be available to rent, but using it is tricky without training, and a DIY enthusiast can easily damage the pipes.

Pros:

  1. Plumbing snakes are a reliable tool for homeowners and professional plumbers.
  2. This is a gentle way to remove clogs without resorting to caustic chemicals.
  3. A plumbing snake will work well on weaker pipes that would be damaged by high pressure water from a hydrojet.
  4. If you have an older plumbing system, a plumbing snake is the best option.

Cons:

  1. The reach of a plumbing snake is limited to clogs near the surface.
  2. The snake can only make a hold in the clog up to the size of the auger.
  3. A small auger hole can clear space, but it may not get the entire clog.
  4. If the clog is persistent, using a plumbing snake is a temporary fix.

What is a Hydrojet?

The hydrojet is a more complex drain clearing tool that’s used by professional plumbers for tricky clog removal situations. This is a high pressure hose that has specialized nozzles that are attached to the business end of the tool. The other end of the hose is connected to a unit that increases the pressure of the water. This pressurized water is then forced into the drain to break the clog apart.

The hydroject will often remove a wide variety of materials that have made their way into the length of the drain over the years. This could include: food debris, organic materials, hair, mineral build up, cooking oil, grease, and more. All of this material will be forced further into the drain and then out to the main sewer line on the street. If you have a tree root intrusion into the drain line, the hydrojet can even break these into smaller pieces. This is why it’s common practice for the plumber to run a sewer camera into any drain where the use of a hydrojet is a possibility. Using a hydroject on a damaged pipe can cause more damage, and a replacement or repair may be required instead.

Pros:

  1. A hydrojet is a high efficient drain clearing tool.
  2. This method works on all types of drain clogs.
  3. Hydrojetting can be used in residential and commercial properties.
  4. Only pressurized water is used, making this an environmentally friendly option.

Cons:

  1. If you want to clear the drains yourself, the hydrojet is not a safe method.
  2. Using a hydrojet can damage older and fragile pipes.
  3. A camera inspection by a professional plumber is needed before hydrojetting commences.
  4. Hydrojets are very specialized tools, and training is needed to use one correctly.

Choose a Professional Drain Clearing

As you can see, there are major differences between the plumbing snake and hydrojet. If you have some DIY skills and a little plumbing knowledge, it is possible to clear a clog with a cup plunger or a plumbing auger. Many people have one or two augers in different sizes to handle simple clog clearing jobs. But, the larger motorized variants are hard to control without training, and it’s easy to damage your pipes.

The hydrojet is not a tool for a DIY enthusiast, and it requires a certain level of training and expertise to use safely. In fact, before the hydrojet can even be used, the condition of the pipe must be evaluated with a camera inspection. Many clogs are persistent; they return repeatedly because there is an underlying problem. This may be revealed with a sewer line camera, and a plan of action can be made.

If you have a clogged drain or sewer line, contact your local certified plumber today.

By Giovanni Longo President Flood Brothers Plumbing
Giovanni Longo is a 3rd generation master plumber who has been practicing his craft and trade in the greater Los Angeles area for well over a decade and a half. A plumbing and hydraulics-engineering innovator, Giovanni’s particular world-class expertise focuses on dealing with challenging sewer system designs as well as resolving complex commercial and residential draining issues. As a certified Flood Mitigation expert, he is also well versed in a wide variety of water damage and remediation solution.