An industry expert explains the differences between water jetters and cable drain cleaners
Q: We use cable drain cleaners at our facility. But my young guys keep telling me I should switch to high-pressure water jets to do the same job. Are they right?
A: Well, yes and no. Traditional cable drain cleaners do a great job cutting up tree roots and retrieving objects. But when it comes to grease clogs, cables have a difficult time.
Water jets are ideal for clearing grease, as well as flushing sand and melting ice. Jets use a stream of high-pressure water that cuts the grease off the walls of the pipe and flushes it away. The thrust of the nozzle drives the hose down the line for wall-to-wall pipe cleaning action.
Electric jets typically offer a maximum of 1,500 psi at about 2 gpm. Trying to get more pressure from an electric motor runs the risk of pulling too many amps and popping breakers. It’s better to use a gas-powered jet. You get twice the pressure and flow rate of electric jets to handle larger and longer lines. Gas jets can also clear indoor drainlines with a portable reel. It lets you use the power of gas jets in buildings and confined spaces where exhaust fumes can be hazardous, while the jet stays safely outside.
But beware of trying to convert your pressure washer into a water jet. Jets use vibration to overcome the friction in the pipe and help the hose glide around bends and farther down the line. If you don’t have pulse, the hose could get stuck in the pipe.