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How Plumbers Unclog Drains (Without Drain Cleaners)

Last week, we wrote about why you shouldn’t use chemical drain cleaners to get rid of clogs and instead call on professional plumbers. But this brings up an important question: How do plumbing professionals take care of the job?

The main tools of drain unclogging

Drain unclogging is the same as drain cleaning for plumbers: the tools used to provide regular cleaning to keep drains in good condition are the same as those used to break through a stoppage or fix a slow drain. There are two major methods plumbers use:

  • Mechanical drain snakes: A drain snake is a generic term for a type of tool that can be sent down into a drain and then drilled around to break apart and remove clogs. There are commercially available hand-crank drain snakes that can sometimes fix simple clogs. But the motorized type of drain snake is a piece of equipment that professional plumbers use to break apart the most stubborn clogs.
  • Hydro jetting: This is an even more advanced technique than motorized drain snakes. A hydro-jetter is a device that sends out high-pressured blasts of water to scour the inside of the drains. A hose with a special 360° nozzle goes down into the drain, and water that is kept under pressure with a motor then sprays out to cover all parts of the drain. This will knock away debris and provide a complete cleaning of the drainpipe, making it harder for clogging to return.

But is there anything I can do myself?

Beyond using a plunger or a hand-crank drain snake, no there isn’t. Both of these tools are safe to use to try to get rid of clogs, but if they don’t work, you shouldn’t attempt to take any further steps on your own. The clog is too thick to stand up to anything except professional grade tools such as hydro-jetters and motorized drain snakes, both of which require expert training to handle.

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