Buildup in a sewer line is never good news. It causes sluggish drainage, backups and overflows — in the United States, between 23,000 and 75,000 sanitary sewer overflows occur every year. In England, the recent discovery of a London “fatberg” measuring 800 feet long and weighing about 143 tons made global news with its monstrous size.

Imagine being able to power-wash your sewer pipes as quickly and easily as you could power-wash a driveway or vehicle. Hydro jetting gives you that ability. It sprays away buildup to keep your plumbing free and clear.

What is water jetting cleaning, and how does it work? We’ll explain the process below, detail how to hydro jet a sewer line and discuss some of the benefits of hydro jetting in different scenarios.

What Is Hydro Jetting?

What is high-pressure water jetting, or hydro jetting?

Hydro jetting is a technique professional plumbers use to clean slow-moving or clogged sewage lines. It uses water to scour heavy buildup from sewer pipes as quickly and easily as if it were debris in the street. It can easily break up clogs made of all kinds of materials, from food residues to congealed baby wipes.

Hydro jetting is a highly effective plumbing technique. Plumbers must use this method judiciously, however. Older pipes may not be able to withstand the high water pressure of hydro jetting without cracking. And if sewer lines are already broken or collapsed, hydro jetting will be an unhelpful solution.

How Does Hydro Jetting Work?

During hydro jetting, a plumber uses special equipment known as a jetter. The jetter contains a tank of water, a hose, a nozzle and a device that pressurizes the water in the nozzle so it can shoot out when released. The nozzle may have a different shape or size depending on the drain size or the clog’s composition. A chisel-type nozzle, for instance, is useful for cutting through hard blockages like roots, ice or hardened buildup.

To start the process, a plumber inserts a nozzle into the sewer pipe, usually through the cleanout opening. The plumber then uses the jetter to send a high-pressure blast of water roaring down the sewer line. The water is often pressurized at up to 3,500 pounds per square inch (psi), so it travels down the line with tremendous speed and force to clear clogs and flush out built-up debris.

Before hydro jetting, a plumber performs an initial video inspection by snaking a tiny video camera down the sewer line to get a good look at where the clogs are and what they contain. For instance, sometimes the issue is not a clump of solidified waste matter but a snarl of tree roots. Hydro jetting can be useful even against root blockages, but the plumber must often use a snake first to shred the roots into more manageable pieces. Video inspection also helps ensure the pipe configuration will not cause sewage to backflush into the clean water supply.

What Are the Benefits of Hydro Jetting?

Here are a few of the benefits of hydro jetting:

  • Effectiveness: Hydro jetting is highly effective. It’s rare that a clog can stand up against thousands of pounds of water pressure. It also works efficiently, clearing clogs quickly so businesses and municipalities can get their sewer systems back up and running as soon as possible.
  • Thoroughness: Techniques like snaking often leave some buildup on the pipe walls. Because the snake is significantly thinner than the pipe, it can break up the clog’s center, but it has more difficulty removing residues from the sides. With hydro jetting, the rush of pressurized water covers the entire cross-section of the pipe and leaves little residue behind.
  • Eco-friendliness: Hydro jetting is easy on the environment. It uses plain water with no harsh chemicals or enzymes mixed in. In the unlikely event that leaks occur, they won’t introduce hazardous chemicals into the soil or groundwater.
  • Safety: Because it uses water instead of chemicals, hydro jetting is a safe procedure. Businesses can feel good about the safety of their employees, customers and neighbors.

How Is Hydro Jetting Used?

Hydro jetting a sewer line is useful in many sewer-clearing jobs that call for a thorough, high-powered approach, such as:

  • Scouring pipe walls
  • Flushing out a stagnant system
  • Pulverizing oil and grease
  • Clearing out debris and sludge
  • Breaking up tree roots
  • Removing calcified scale
  • Smashing through clogs of ice
  • Washing out sand and silt

Hydro jetting is effective in many circumstances, and it is nearly indispensable in settings like these:

  • Older buildings: Older, historical buildings delight passersby with their exterior beauty and charm. Below ground, though, they often have decades of buildup on their sewer pipe walls. A snake can clear some of that buildup, but it won’t break up all of it, especially along the pipe walls. If managers in these buildings find they must repeatedly snake their pipes to get the water flowing, it’s often a good idea to use hydro jetting for a more comprehensive cleaning.
  • Restaurants: Restaurant plumbing tends to take a beating. All types of fats, oils and grease (FOG) and other food residues go down the drain, even if the restaurant has sink traps to catch the larger particles. Eventually, the residues congeal on the pipe walls and cause blockages — FOG causes almost half of the sewer overflows in the United States. Snaking can’t remove all the buildup, so hydro jetting is often necessary for a thorough system flush.
  • Commercial sewers and municipal pipes: In a home or small business, the sewer pipes are usually small enough that a snake can clean them effectively and economically. Commercial and municipal sewer lines are a different matter. They have such large diameters that a traditional augur will make only a small dent in the buildup. Because hydro jetting can cover a large area with pressurized water, it is often more suitable for capacious commercial and municipal plumbing.

Partner With Southern Vac for Quality Hydro Jetting Equipment

To find out how hydro jetting can benefit your sewer lines, contact Southern Vac. We carry the largest stock inventory and rental fleet in the Southeast, and we are committed to providing you with exceptional equipment and parts. We only offer equipment that we can back 100%, so you’ll always know you’re receiving the highest-quality product.

We stand out from the competition with our friendly customer service, reliable products and equipment expertise. And we are happy to help meet your unique pipe-clearing needs with services such as on-site service, loaner machines and rental options.

Browse our selection of hydro jetting equipment online, or contact us to learn more.


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