The “Ins & Outs” of Renting Drain Cleaning Equipment

When it comes to cleaning clogged drains, everyone wants to get in and out as fast and safely as possible, so rental professionals rely on manufacturers for answers to the “Ins & Outs” of drain cleaning equipment, and for how to get the job done safely, efficiently and as profitably as possible.

First Factor In Diameter and Length

When determining and recommending what drain cleaning equipment is needed for a job, first factor in the diameter of the drain and the length of the pipe. Equipment size is determined by drain diameter, length and material. Larger diameter drains require larger diameter cable and cleaning attachments and more power, while smaller diameter pipes usually require smaller diameter attachments and enough power to get through blockages. The kind of clog and the type of drain also factor in.

2 important questions go a long way to determine what drain cleaning equipment is needed for a job:

1. What applications and what diameter lines need to be cleaned out?

2. What is the length of the lines?

Diameter and length usually tell you which machine to go with for a job. Of course there are always jobs that may need more specific consideration.

Determining the proper size equipment

Determining the proper size equipment for the job is critical in cleaning a drain effectively. If a machine too small for cleaning a large line is used, the cleaning attempt will be ineffective, and the line will either stay clogged or slightly open and ready to clog again. Using a machine too large for a smaller pipe will have difficulty guiding the heavier cable through the line.

Many situations need cables that are 100 feet long or more to reach all the way through floor drains to the nearest sewer. Pipe diameter, length and material, as well as the nature of the clog, are important to know when deciding the best way to solve the problem. The most common drain materials are plastic, malleable iron, cast iron and copper. Some larger drains are cast iron, cement or clay. Underground lines are often made of cast iron, plastic, or clay and are among the toughest drain lines to clear because of penetrating tree roots blockages. In such situations, it’s important to use cable heavy enough and long enough, that has enough flexibility to get past tees and ells, and that features a cutting tool that will cut through heavy roots. If the cable is old or damaged, it can break off and require a retriever to recover it. Proper maintenance and routine inspection will help minimize cable problems.

Cast iron, steel and even copper pipes can corrode. It’s important to consider these materials, in addition to what flows through them. Condensate return drains contain hot water and steam, which combine to produce carbonic acid that rapidly corrodes the copper or steel pipe wall, and can break off causing blockages at bends.

Fixture drains are commonly made of thin gauge copper or plastic, and are more fragile and easily damaged, especially with powered drain cleaners. Equipment operators must be careful to gradually work the clog loose without exerting too much force. Material in these drains is usually hair and soap scum, and might require chemical treatment, as well as powered options, starting with a hand snake—like the Handle Drain Cleaner—and working up to electric powered equipment when needed.

Cable kinking, one of the most common problems in drain cleaning, can be prevented by using the right machine for the job, meaning less repair expense and more satisfied customers.