There are so many ways to tackle unclogging the drain, but there are some undeniable benefits to using a pressure washer.
The last thing anyone wants to see is a slow draining sink or tub.
When plungers and chemical solutions aren’t unclogging the drain, and you’re left with a sink full of stinky sewer water, what else can you do?
You may want to consider using a pressure washer to help get things flowing again. It’s an effective way to open up your drain without spending a lot of money.
Never used one before? No problem. Continue reading for a quick overview of how a pressure washer works and when to use it.
How Does a Pressure Washer Work?
You can use a pressure washer with a sewer jetter attachment to unclog your drain. The pressure washer doesn’t pressurize your pipe but uses high-pressure water to move through your pipes and break apart buildup.
The sewer jet is a long piece of flexible hose with a jet nozzle on one end. The nozzle has front-firing and back-firing jets. On the other end of the sewer jet is a coupling that attaches to the pressure washer.
The front-firing jets use the high-pressure water to break up clogs in the drain. The back-firing jets propel the hose in the drain and scrub the sides of the pipes.
If you already own a pressure washer, using a sewer jet attachment usually costs less than a mechanical drain snake, can unclog a drain faster and will be easier to clean after use.
Why Use a Pressure Washer for Unclogging the Drain?
Soap residue, hair, grease, and dirt build-up in your pipes can slow down the flow of water.
There are three main ways to unclog a drain:
- chemical drain cleaners
- a plumbing auger (drain snake)
- a pressure washer with a sewer jet attachment
A plumbing auger is a long metal tube with blades on one end and a crank on the other. You feed the blade side into the drain and crank it by hand to break up the blockage. The plumbing auger is useful for small blockages but it can leave debris in the pipes, which can build up and cause another clog in the future.
A pressure washer with a sewer jet attachment can use its back-firing jets to go farther into the drain line with less physical effort on your part. It breaks down the blockage and washes away the debris while it cleans the walls of the pipe. You have a better chance of avoiding future clogs when you use a pressure washer. And, with no moving mechanical parts like a plumbing auger, it is easier to clean and store.
Pressure washers are a safer, more efficient way to clean out the hair, grease, and other particles that clog drains. Chemicals and plumbing augers are effective as well, but use toxic acids and spinning metal blades. A pressure washer uses only water and won’t damage or cut up the pipe like chemicals and mechanical metal blades will.
Different Types of Pressure Washers
The type of pressure washer you use for unclogging the drain will depend on whether you need to use it indoors or outdoors.
If your drainpipe is inside, then choose an Electric Pressure Washer that doesn’t generate exhaust fumes. Electric pressure washers have a lower flow rate (<2 GPM) so should be used on pipes that are 4” in diameter or smaller.
With outside drainpipes, you can use a Gas Pressure Washer. These washers have a larger flow rate and work for larger pipes. (A residential gas pressure washer has a GPM of 2-2.9 and can be used for cleaning drains up to 4” in diameter. A commercial washer is 3.0-3.9 GOM and can clean drains up to 6” in diameter. )
But remember, gas-powered pressure washers should never be used indoors! They produce harmful carbon monoxide fumes and are a fire hazard.
There are also Hot Water Pressure Washers that clean faster and more effectively with lower pressure. They can heat water to more than 120 degrees F, so make sure to verify the maximum temperature recommendations for your hose.
Is Using a Pressure Washer Always a Good Idea?
Plumbers often use pressure washers to unclog drains. It is a great way to clean drains, remove buildup, and minimize the potential for the drain to become blocked again.
But it’s not the best solution in every situation.
Older pipes, as often found in older homes, are not up to the same standards as modern houses. They may not be able to handle the high pressure that a pressure washer will use and could cause expensive damage to your drainpipes. You should always have a plumbing inspection carried out before doing a pressure washer cleaning.
A sewer jet on a pressure washer works great for cleaning soft clogs like grease, soap, hair, and sludge, it does not work as well on a clog caused by tree roots. If a root system has invaded and blocked your drain, you may want to begin with a pipe inspection and plumbing auger before using a pressure washer.
Is It Better to Do It Myself or Get A Drain Professional?
For many standard clogs, using a pressure washer with a sewer jet attachment yourself can be a good option. It is efficient and cost-effective. However, for anything more advanced, or if you don’t know what is causing the clog, you may want to consult with a professional plumber.
A licensed plumber has knowledge, experience, and insurance. They will often guarantee their work, giving you peace of mind should anything happen. It will always be cheaper to hire a professional than to replace pipes, walls, or floors because of damage caused by a high-pressure washer.
At the very least, you may want to have a plumber conduct an initial inspection to identify the issue and minimize any potential damage.
A Good DIY Solution for Unclogging Your Drain
When used properly, a pressure washer can be a safe and effective tool for unclogging the drain.
Check out other articles on our site to learn more about plumbing and drain cleaning for your home.
Still need help? Call Eyman at: (402) 731-2727 to schedule an appointment today!