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Water Jets vs. Traditional Methods: What’s the Best for Drain Cleaning?

Water Jets vs. Traditional Methods

Are you curious about the best way to clear drains? Let’s explore two methods: water jets and traditional techniques. Water jetting uses high-pressure water to clean, while traditional methods like plungers and chemicals have their own approaches. We’ll delve into their effectiveness, eco-friendliness, and costs to uncover the ideal solution for your drainage needs. 

By weighing their pros and cons, you’ll gain insights into maintaining clear, clog-free pipes. This comparison aims to simplify the choice between modern high-pressure cleaning and time-tested traditional methods for optimal drain maintenance.

What Is Water Jetting?

Water jetting is a high-pressure cleaning method that utilizes a stream of water to remove dirt, grime, and unwanted substances from surfaces. It is a versatile technique used in industrial cleaning, surface preparation, and cutting applications. The intense force generated by the water jet effectively dislodges debris without the need for abrasive materials. This environmentally friendly process is widely used for tasks such as cleaning pipelines, removing coatings, and shaping materials.

Traditional Drain Cleaning Methods

Traditional drain cleaning methods typically involve manual techniques or the use of basic tools to remove clogs and blockages in plumbing systems. Here are some common traditional drain cleaning methods:


Plungers are a basic yet effective tool for clearing minor blockages. They work by creating pressure and suction to dislodge the clog. There are different kinds of plungers for sinks and toilets.

Handheld Augers or Snakes

A plumber’s snake, also known as an auger, is a flexible cable with a corkscrew-like end. It is manually cranked or operated using a drill, and it is fed into the drain to break up and remove obstructions.

Chemical Drain Cleaners

Chemical drain cleaners are liquid or gel substances that contain strong chemicals to dissolve or break down clogs. These cleaners are poured directly into the drain and usually require some time to work before flushing the system with water.

Boiling Water

The act of pouring boiling water down the drain can assist in breaking down grease and soap residue, potentially facilitating the movement of a clog. This method is more suitable for minor clogs.

Baking Soda and Vinegar

Combining baking soda and vinegar can create a chemical reaction that may help break down clogs. Pour baking soda down the drain, add vinegar, and let it sit for some time before flushing it with hot water.

Air Burst Drain Cleaners

These devices use compressed air to create a shockwave that clears the blockage. They are typically used by professionals and can be effective for stubborn clogs.

Enzyme Cleaners

Enzyme-based drain cleaners contain bacteria and enzymes that break down organic material in the drain. They are often used as a preventative measure to keep drains clear.

Water Jets vs. Traditional Drain Cleaning Methods

Water jetting and traditional drain cleaning methods are two different approaches used to clear blockages and maintain the proper functioning of drainage systems. Each method has its advantages and is served for different situations. Let’s compare water jetting with traditional drain cleaning methods:

  • Effectiveness

Water jets excel in removing debris, grease, and roots from drains, providing a highly effective solution. The high-pressure stream dislodges stubborn blockages, reaching areas traditional methods might miss. This efficiency minimizes the need for repeated treatments, saving time and resources.

  • Environmentally Friendly

Water jetting is an environmentally conscious option, utilizing water without harmful chemicals. Traditional methods often rely on corrosive substances, posing potential hazards to both the environment and the plumbing system. Water jets provide a greener, safer alternative.

  • Versatility

Water jets are versatile and adaptable, suitable for various pipe materials and sizes. Traditional methods may be limited in their applicability, especially in complex plumbing systems. Water jetting’s flexibility allows it to address a broader range of issues efficiently, making it a preferred choice for diverse drainage systems.

  • Preventive Maintenance

Water jets are proactive in preventing future clogs by thoroughly cleaning pipes. Traditional methods may clear immediate blockages but often fall short of addressing underlying issues. Water jetting helps maintain the integrity of the plumbing system, lowering the likelihood of recurring problems and the need for frequent interventions.

  • Minimal Damage

Water jets are gentle on pipes, minimizing the risk of damage during the cleaning process. Traditional methods, particularly those involving mechanical devices, may inadvertently harm pipes, leading to costly repairs. Water jetting’s non-invasive approach ensures efficient cleaning without compromising the structural integrity of the drainage system.

  • Time Efficiency

Water jetting is a quicker solution compared to traditional methods. The high-pressure stream rapidly clears blockages, reducing downtime for businesses or inconvenience for homeowners. Traditional methods may involve time-consuming procedures, causing disruptions and delays in restoring proper drainage.

  • Cost-Effectiveness

While initial costs for water jetting equipment may be higher, the long-term benefits contribute to overall cost-effectiveness. Water jets’ preventive nature reduces the frequency of callouts for blockages, saving on emergency repair expenses. Traditional methods may offer a lower upfront cost but can become more expensive over time due to recurring issues and potential damage.

FAQs about Water Jets for Drain Cleaning

How often should you jet your drains?

Hydrojetting is recommended for drain maintenance once a year to prevent clogs and guarantee optimal flow. However, homeowners with higher grease disposal may benefit from more frequent jetting. Regular maintenance helps avoid blockages and keeps drains functioning efficiently.

How long does it take to jet a drain?

Hydrojetting a drain typically takes around 60 minutes on average. However, for extensive cleaning, the process may extend to approximately 90 minutes. Efficient and thorough, hydrojetting swiftly clears debris from pipes, ensuring optimal drainage.

Does hydrojetting always work?

Hydrojetting is highly effective for clearing clogs and minimizing grease and mineral buildup in sewer lines. Whether facing a complete blockage or slow drainage, hydrojetting proves successful in nearly all cases, ensuring thorough cleaning and optimal flow.

Is water jetting safe?

Hydro-jetting is generally safe, but potential damage may occur if pipes are old or in poor condition. The intense water pressure used in hydro-jetting can harm weakened pipes. Assess your plumbing system’s condition before proceeding.

What are the safety precautions for water jetting?

Ensure eye protection and use ear defenders during water jetting to prevent hearing damage. Beware of electrical shock risks from enclosures and junction boxes; disconnect and lockout power before accessing them. Seek guidance from the  Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) for accurate safety protocols.

Common Misconceptions about Water Jets

  • Water Jetting Damages Pipes

There’s a misconception that the high-pressure water used in jetting can damage pipes. However, when done by a professional and on structurally sound pipes, water jetting is safe and non-damaging. It’s crucial to assess the condition of pipes before jetting to ensure their integrity.

  • It’s Only for Extreme Blockages

While water jetting is highly effective for severe clogs, it’s also beneficial for routine maintenance. Regular jetting can prevent major blockages, maintain clean pipes, and improve the overall efficiency of the drainage system.

  • Chemical Cleaners Are Equally Effective

Some believe chemical cleaners are as effective as water jetting. However, these cleaners often provide temporary solutions and can be harmful to pipes, the environment, and human health. Water jetting offers a more thorough and long-term solution without using harsh chemicals.

  • Water Jetting Is Unsafe

There’s a misconception that water jetting poses significant safety risks. While it’s crucial to follow safety protocols and wear appropriate protective gear during water jetting, when performed by trained professionals, it’s a safe and efficient method for drain cleaning.


The comparison between water jets and traditional drain cleaning methods highlights the superiority of water jetting in effectiveness, eco-friendliness, versatility, and preventive maintenance. Its minimal damage, time efficiency, and long-term cost-effectiveness make it a compelling choice. Despite misconceptions, water jetting stands out as a safe, efficient, and proactive solution for maintaining clear, clog-free drains, ensuring optimal functionality and environmental consciousness.

If you have problems with your drains and need expert solutions, contact us at Hansen’s Plumbing. We specialize in hydrojetting and offer comprehensive plumbing services to keep your system operating smoothly and clog-free!

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