When faced with a clogged drain, many homeowners reach for chemical drain cleaners or attempt “Do It Yourself” (DIY) solutions. However, it’s often best to seek professional drain cleaning services for more stubborn blockages or persistent drain issues.
This guide explores the methods and techniques professionals use to effectively clear drains.
Understanding The Causes Of Drain Clogs
Before delving into professional drain cleaning techniques, it’s crucial to understand the common causes of drain clogs. These include:
- Hair and Soap Scum: Hair and soap scum are notorious culprits for clogging drains, particularly in bathroom sinks and showers. Over time, these materials accumulate and form a solid mass that impedes water flow.
- Grease and Food Waste: Clogs from fats, oils, and grease (FOGs) often solidify when they cool down, leading to drain blockages. Food remains also play a critical role in many cases of drain clogs. To prevent this, avoid pouring grease down the drain and use a drain strainer to catch food scraps.
- Mineral Deposits: Hard water minerals, such as calcium and lime, can build up over time, causing gradual narrowing of pipes and eventually leading to clogs.
Techniques In Cleaning Drains
Professional plumbers use a range of specialized tools and techniques to clear drain clogs effectively.
Some of these methods include;
Assessment & Inspection
This is the first step in cleaning drains. Professional drain cleaners often start by evaluating the situation using specialized tools such as drain cameras to inspect the pipes’ interior . This helps them pinpoint the nature and location of blockages, whether caused by grease buildup, foreign objects, or tree roots infiltrating the pipes.
The assessment and inspection process is systematic, allowing for a clear diagnosis and enabling the cleaners to implement precise and efficient solutions tailored to the specific plumbing challenges encountered. This approach ensures an effective and lasting resolution to the identified issues.
High-Pressure Water Jetting
One common method employed by professionals is high-pressure water jetting. This involves using a powerful stream of water to break up and flush out the blockage. The force of the water is often sufficient to clear away grease, debris, and mineral buildup on the pipe walls, restoring proper drainage.
There are two forms of high-pressure water jetting applied by professionals. They include:
- Power washer: This machine resembles a garden sprinkler, propelling a powerful stream of water to dislodge the clog and allow it to pass through the drain. While power washers offer a DIY solution, they may not always be successful and can potentially damage your drains. This is why they are not typically found at hardware stores.
- Gas-powered drain cleaner: This method involves introducing gas into the drain system through a device connected to your hose. The gas is then forced into the junction between the drain and pipe, utilizing the principle that gas can flow through areas where liquid cannot. This method aims to dislodge the clog by creating pressure and allowing the gas to escape through the drain opening.
Auger Or Snake Devices
For more stubborn clogs, professionals use auger or snake devices. These tools are designed to navigate through the pipes, breaking apart and dislodging blockages. Whether it’s a handheld auger for smaller drains or a motorized snake for main sewer lines, these devices are effective in physically removing obstructions.
While caustic drain cleaners are available to consumers, professional drain cleaning service companies may use industrial-strength chemical treatments such as Liquid-Plumr Industrial Strength Gel or the Zep 10 Minute Hair Clog Remover (both available at Home Depot and Lowe’s) when necessary. These chemicals contain ingredients like bleach, nitrates, and peroxides that can break down and dissolve stubborn clogs.
Although chemical drain cleaners are generally quick and effective, they are hazardous and can cause chemical burns and other complications. For this reason, they are typically reserved for situations where mechanical methods may not be suitable.
In cases where tree roots have infiltrated the sewer pipes, professionals often employ rooter services. A rooter is a specialized tool designed with a blade at the front that cuts and removes tree roots, preventing them from causing further damage to the plumbing system. This process helps to restore proper water flow and prevents future root intrusion.
Professionals may use hydro excavation in situations where the blockage is particularly challenging or if there’s a need to access underground pipes. This method combines water pressure and a vacuum system to safely excavate soil and debris around the pipes, allowing for efficient repairs or replacements.
Maintaining a well-functioning plumbing system is essential for a comfortable and hygienic home environment. While DIY methods can be effective for minor drain issues, professional drain cleaning services offer higher expertise and specialized equipment to tackle more complex problems.