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Hydro Jetting vs Snaking: Knowing The Key Differences

hydro jetting vs snaking
Image by M-Production from Getty Images on Canva

Hydro jetting vs snaking – when faced with a clogged drain, these two terms might come up in your search for a solution. Both methods are effective in tackling drain problems, but they work in very different ways. When dealing with a clog, it’s always important to choose the best method to prevent further damages that can leave you with expensive repairs or worse, a plumbing nightmare. And that’s why we’re here to help differentiate these two methods. This blog post will equip you with the knowledge to make an informed decision when that dreaded slow drain or complete blockage strikes.

The Difference Between Hydro Jetting vs Snaking

Understanding the key differences between hydro jetting vs snaking is crucial for tackling a clog effectively and avoiding future plumbing problems. Let’s discuss what hydro jetting and snaking are and what they can and can’t do. 

What Is Hydro Jetting?

Hydro jetting uses high-pressure water streams to clear out clogs and clean the interior surfaces of plumbing pipes. This method involves inserting a high-pressure hose with a specialized nozzle into the drain. Water is then forced out at pressures up to 35,000 pounds per square inch, powerful enough to cut through virtually any blockage and scrub the pipe walls. 

Advantages of Hydro Jetting

  • It handles tough clogs like tree roots, mineral buildup, and other stubborn obstructions.
  • It reduces future clogs as it thoroughly cleans pipes, leaving them less susceptible to future blockages.
  • It provides a deeper clean than snaking.
  • It is safe for most pipes (with professional help) and even helps clear minor cracks in pipes. 
  • It is environmentally friendly as it solely relies on water – no harsh chemicals needed. 

Disadvantages of Hydro Jetting

  • It is costlier than snaking because it requires specialized equipment and professional expertise.
  • It can damage pipes if done incorrectly, especially older or weakened pipes.
  • It is not ideal for all clogs, as it can be too much for soft clogs like hair and food scraps.

What Is Snaking?

Snaking, also known as mechanical rodding, involves using a physical tool called a plumber’s snake or drain auger. This flexible, coiled wire is inserted into the drain where it physically pushes through clogs and obstructions. The tip of the snake either breaks up the clog or captures it so that when the snake is pulled out, the blockage comes with it. 

Advantages of Snaking

  • It’s generally cheaper compared to hydro jetting. 
  • It is often a faster solution for simple clogs caused by hair, food scraps, and other common debris.
  • Depending on the severity of the clog, snaking can sometimes be a DIY project with a readily available drain snake.

Disadvantages of Snaking

  • Snaking may not be strong enough to handle touch clogs like mineral buildup or tree roots.
  • Snaking might only break up the clog temporarily, and it won’t thoroughly clean pipes. This may result in faster recurrence of clogs.
  • If not done correctly, it can push the clog deeper into the pipes, which creates a more difficult problem.
  • It can snag on delicate pipes and damage corroded ones.

When to Use Hydro Jetting vs Snaking for Clogs

hydro jetting vs snaking
Image by Africa images on Canva

While plungers usually do the trick, there are times when the clog won’t budge. Choosing the right method for clearing a plumbing blockage involves understanding the nature of the clog, the condition of the plumbing system, and the potential impacts on pipe integrity. Here, we’ll discuss in detail when to use hydro jetting vs snaking to provide a clearer picture of the appropriate scenarios for each method.

When to Use Snaking

When choosing between hydro jetting vs snaking, the first things you must consider are the severity of the clog and your pipe’s overall condition. Here’s a breakdown of situations where snaking is the most suitable option: 

  1. Minor or Routine Blockages

If your drain is clogged due to common debris like food scraps, hair, soap residue, or small objects, snaking is usually sufficient to clear these types of blockages. It physically dislodges the clog, allowing it to be pulled out or pushed through the drainage system. This method is straightforward and less invasive. That’s why it’s an ideal first step in clog removal.

  1. Sensitive Plumbing Systems

In homes or buildings with older plumbing systems, the pipes may not withstand the high pressures of hydro jetting. These older systems often consist of materials that are more susceptible to damage, such as cast iron or clay pipes. Using a snake in these pipes minimizes the risk of creating further damage, such as cracks or breaks, which could lead to more significant plumbing issues.

  1. Initial Diagnostics

Snaking can be an effective diagnostic tool. Before committing to more intensive cleaning methods, using a snake can help identify the nature of the blockage. If snaking resolves the issue quickly, it may eliminate the need for further action. However, if snaking does not clear the blockage, it indicates that a more stubborn or complex clog is present, possibly requiring hydro jetting.

When to Use Hydro Jetting

If you’re unsure whether to go for hydro jetting vs snaking, always follow this rule: when in doubt, consult a licensed plumber. They can assess the situation and recommend the most appropriate method based on the clog’s severity and the condition of your pipes. However, there are some clear signs that hydro jetting might be the better choice:

  1. Severe Blockages

Tough, resilient blockages such as tree roots, mineral build-up, or hardened grease require a robust solution. Hydro jetting’s high-pressure water stream is capable of cutting through these severe clogs, breaking them apart and flushing them out of the system. This method is highly effective for clearing blockages that cannot be resolved through snaking.

  1. Maintenance Cleaning

For maintaining the health and longevity of your plumbing system, hydro jetting is unmatched. It not only clears severe clogs but also thoroughly cleans the pipe walls, removing debris, grease, and build-up that could lead to future blockages. Regular maintenance cleaning with hydro jetting can extend the life of your pipes and reduce the frequency of clogs.

  1. Commercial Applications

In commercial settings, such as restaurants or manufacturing facilities, drains and pipes undergo much more extensive use and are prone to frequent and complex clogging. Here, hydro jetting is advantageous as it effectively manages the heavy buildup typical in these environments. This method ensures that drainage systems run smoothly and remain free of obstructions, which is critical for business operations.

Hydro Jetting vs Snaking FAQs

What are the main differences between hydro jetting and snaking? 

The main difference is the method of clearing the blockage. Hydro jetting uses water pressure to remove the debris, while snaking physically breaks up the blockage with a metal cable. Hydro jetting is generally more effective for removing build-up and residues along pipe walls, whereas snaking is more suited for solid, hard blockages like tree roots or objects.

Which method is more effective for residential plumbing issues?

The effectiveness depends on the type of blockage. For common household blockages caused by food particles, grease, or soap residues, hydro jetting provides a thorough cleaning. However, for severe blockages such as tree roots, snaking might be the initial approach.

Is hydro jetting safe for old pipes?

Hydro jetting is safe for most piping, provided it is done professionally. However, if pipes are very old or damaged, the high pressure used in hydro jetting could potentially cause further damage. It’s essential to have pipes inspected before undergoing hydro jetting.

Can snaking damage pipes?

Snaking is generally safe for pipes and is less likely to cause damage compared to other methods. However, excessive force or incorrect use of a snake can potentially damage pipes, particularly if they are old or made from weaker materials.

Can I perform hydro jetting or snaking on my own?

While snaking can be performed by a homeowner with some DIY experience and the right tools, hydro jetting requires professional equipment and expertise to be performed safely and effectively. It is recommended to hire professionals, such as those from Hansen’s Plumbing and Remodeling, who have the right tools and extensive experience in safely and efficiently handling both hydro jetting and snaking to resolve any plumbing issues.

The Bottom Line

Understanding when to use hydro jetting vs snaking depends on multiple factors. Snaking is an excellent choice for quick fixes and delicate situations, while hydro jetting offers a comprehensive solution for more challenging problems and preventative maintenance. By choosing the appropriate method, you can ensure the efficient and safe resolution of plumbing issues, thereby safeguarding the functionality and longevity of your plumbing systems.
If you have been experiencing persistent or frequently recurring clogs, Hansen’s Plumbing and Remodeling is here to help. We have a team of experts ready to fix your plumbing issues as soon as possible. Schedule an appointment today!

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