Why Can’T Drain Snakes Solve Every Problem?

Most homeowners are familiar with the drain snake. These tools are relatively simple, although some people misunderstand their purpose. A drain snake travels through your pipes, cutting and pulling obstructions along the way. Plumbers can use a variety of attachments for dealing with different types of clogs, but the purpose is the same: grab the blockage and retrieve it.

These tools work relatively well for many common pipe blockages, but they can also fail on harder stoppages. More importantly, a drain snake won't necessarily provide a permanent solution if you can't pull the entire blockage out with the cable. In these cases, you need a more permanent and powerful option.

Where Drain Snakes Typically Fail

Snakes tend to have the most trouble with harder obstructions, and they don't necessarily provide a thorough pipe cleaning. For example, roots can present a problem for many snakes and augers. Even if the tool can penetrate the blockage, it won't necessarily grab enough of it to clear the pipe thoroughly. This approach may get your water moving, but you're likely to experience problems again shortly.

Likewise, drain snakes and augers aren't well-suited to removing build-up along the inner walls of your pipes. Grease, fat, and other sticky waste can coat your pipe interiors, creating a perfect trap for larger particles and ultimately causing your drains to back up. A snake may clear some of this obstruction while leaving enough for the clog to form again slowly.

How Water Jetting Can Solve These Problems

Water jetting is a drastically different method of drain cleaning. Instead of using a physical tool to cut and grab obstructions, water jetting (or hydro jetting) methods use concentrated streams of water to blast clogs away. Heavy-duty water jetting machines can use their pressure to even cut through tree roots.

Unlike snakes, the purpose of water jetting isn't to grab onto the blockage. Instead, the jet breaks the jam up and flushes the smaller particles down the drain. Hydro jetting in combination with an inspection camera can help permanently remove even severe drain clogs. Since this method relies on high-intensity water, it can thoroughly clean a pipe without leaving any residue behind.

Since jetting tends to be more labor-intensive and harsher on your pipes, it's not necessarily suitable for every clog. Instead, your plumber will evaluate your specific situation. If you're dealing with a blockage that's too tough for even a heavy-duty auger or drain snake, water jetting can step in to provide you with a solution that will allow your drain to run smoothly without clogging again in a few weeks.