Choosing the Correct Cable for Your Sectional Machine

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Choosing the Correct Cable for Your Sectional Machine

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I have a friend who is quick to label brands or movements with a mysteriously strong, almost cult-like following. Examples include Apple, Tesla, Starbucks, the Grateful Dead and, oddly enough, sectional cable machines.

The sectional cable cult, if in fact it is one, has a long and venerable history, and the mysterious devotion experienced by its followers is not based on advertising cachet or an attempt to keep up with the Joneses, but rather on good old-fashioned pragmatism. As any adherent will tell you, sectional cables are more flexible and spin at a higher rate of speed then drum style cables. Simply put, although there is more work involved, sectionals do a better job at cleaning the drain.

An additional bonus is that the larger cables have a very wide pitch (distance between the coils) which rides on the lip of the pipe, allowing these cables to literally screw themselves down the drain. This feature makes going 200 feet down the line a breeze with a sectional cable, where as a drum-style machine would require a lot more work to do the same. 

The only trick is to make sure that you have the correct size cable for the pipe that you wish to clean. This can be a little tricky if you are transitioning from drum style to sectional style cables, because sectionals are hollow and tend to have a larger outside diameter.

For example, a 5/8-inch drum-style cable is considered rather large, something to be used to cut roots or heavy-duty obstructions. On the other hand, a 5/8-inch sectional cable is considered rather small, something to be used in 1 1/2- to 3-inch lines for lightweight obstructions. A 7/8-inch drum-style cable would be considered huge, only used for the largest pipes and toughest obstructions. A 7/8-inch sectional style cable is considered a medium sized cable, to be used for 2- to 4-inch lines with medium obstructions. (No root cutting.) The heavy lifting in the sectional cable world is done by 1 1/4-inch cables, which are thicker yet more flexible than anything in the drum cable world.

Another upside of sectional machines is they are lighter than drum machines — 80 pounds vs. 200-plus pounds — and you can carry a few sections of cable at a time to the job site, rather than all 200 feet at the same in a drum machine.

The downside to using sectional cables is that … they come in sections. Depending on the length of the snakes, you must stop often to reconnect. Most people find this slightly more arduous than simply pushing a lever and stepping on a foot pedal, which is the total amount of physical labor required to drive a drum style machine cable down the line. On the other hand, having the confidence that your cables and machine will be able to reach and clear any obstruction may be enough to convince you to join the cult. General has a wide array of sectional cables and machines that will allow you to work with theirs as well as most competitive brands. Check out the website for more details.

For more information, contact the Drain Brains at General Pipe Cleaners at 800-245-6200, or visit


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