Understanding drain cleaning equipment

Plumbing systems are largely out-of-sight, out-of-mind for those who occupy commercial buildings, and many facilities personnel who has fished soda bottles, t-shirts, cigarette butts, and everything in-between out of drains know the importance of drain maintenance.

Drain cleaning is essential for keeping building plumbing systems functioning and free from clogs. It is important to first understand the tools you must wield before battling the inevitable clogs in your building.

Drain snake

A drain snake is popular choice for small commercial buildings and residential plumbing systems. Drain snakes work by inserting a cable into the clogged pipe, then a motor feeds the cable into the pipe and the corkscrew at the end of the cable will snag whatever may be clogging the pipe and pull it out.

The Cobra Skinny Snake features a 1/8″ wire cable, making it easy to clear minor clogs in sinks and tubs without removing the strainer or pop-up. Simply rotate the housing using the handle or finger grips to feed the cable through and around most sink and tub strainers. It can clear drain lines up to 10′ deep.

Skinny Snake


There is a lot of overlap in functionality between augers and drain snakes. Augers, however, will tackle issues that are holding up larger pipes, such as those in toilets and shower drains.

The Ridgid 6ft Toilet Auger with Bulb Head includes an optional drill attachment and a heavy-duty tri-wrap cable for maximum strength.


Hydro-jetting is when drains are cleared with high-pressured water. The hydro-jet user will run water first to clear air from the hose, then a small hole on the water jet nozzle that increases the water velocity and rotates to go through the blockage will clean the pipe walls.

In addition to breaking up blockages in pipes, these units will effectively remove grease and oil that your building’s occupants may be pouring down the drain. They are effective on both organic and inorganic materials and will serve as a great preventative maintenance tool in pipes that are regularly exposed to potentially clogging materials.


An easy go-to fix for unclogging drains is to pour a drain opening chemical down and voila, the problem is solved. But it is so important for maintenance professionals to understand which chemical to use on the clog so that the environment and the plumbing system are not harmed in the process.

An enzymatic drain opener, like Drain Resolve, will work to clear garbage disposals, toilets, and other clogs with enzymes. Using an enzymatic solution will not hurt the environment while resolving the clog, however they do typically require a little more patience than other solutions.

Saf-a-way is an ecologically safe solution because it contains no solvents. This chemical will clear hair, grease, and other organic matter from drains and septic tanks.

Chemical cleaners should never be mixed together with other chemicals because it could potentially create a reaction. It is recommended to wear gloves or eye protection before using a chemical drain opener because accidental physical contact with chemicals can result in serious burns.

Facilities managers who use tools like augers or snakes may be renting the equipment to save on costs. However, it is recommended to own rather than rent if the tool is being used at least once a month because that it when the rental fees begin to outweigh the typical overall cost of purchasing the tool.

As facilities managers, you must be sure that safety measures are recognized before using any of these drain opening solutions are completed. Create a plan for selecting the most effective tool for the clog and understand its potential hazards prior to taking action to increase safety for your team as well as provide more potential effectiveness for the situation.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s