What Is a Drain Machine?

A drain machine is a mechanical tool that can remove clogs and unblock drains and pipes. It’s an alternative to using chemical drain cleaners that can harm plumbing. Depending on the type, the machine may be powered by hand, a gasoline engine, or electric motor. Most use a cable designed for cleaning out drains, so the size of the drain may determine the exact type of machine to use.

After World War II, pipes made of galvanized iron became more common. The zinc used to protect the steel was prone to corrosion, causing plaques and rust to form and clogging the drain or water line. At this point drain cleaners became prominent. But even as copper and plastic pipe started replacing iron in the 1960s, hair, oils, and grease among other culprits still caused trouble, and thus many types of drain cleaning machines came to be.

Types of Drain Machines

Plumbers use several different types of drain machines. Each has its own unique functions, although all are intended to achieve the same goal. They include:

  • Handheld Drain Augers: Require mechanical force to drive a cable into the drain. This cable can be up to 25 feet long. Some augers can be used for sink traps, while closet augers are more suited for toilets. Best-suited for small-diameter plumbing pipes, handheld augers are easily found in hardware stores.
  • Sectional Cable Machines: Sectional cables are rotated by the machine in the pipe, while the power auger unit is kept separate until the pipe is completely clean. These wound cables are typically 4 to 8 feet long but can be up to 15 feet. Separating the power unit from the cables makes the system easier to transport.
  • Continuous Cable Machines: A drum contains the cable and is contained within the power auger unit. The cable can be 25, 50, or 100 feet long or longer. Cables don’t have to be added while the machine is operated, saving time. If the unit has a fully enclosed drum, it won’t splatter sewer waste.
  • Air Burst Drain Cleaners: Use accelerated gas, usually carbon dioxide, that pushes standing water to break the clog free. The process works fast and can dislodge blockages located farther down the plumbing line than a plunger. However, this only applies to pipes with standing water inside.
  • Electric Drain Cleaners: Mechanical plumber’s snakes that use a motor to twist flexible cable and drive it into a pipe. Cable lengths can extend beyond 250 feet. This type of drain machine can therefore clean long sections of sewer lines and even remove tree roots and other solid objects. It can also work around 90-degree bends.
  • Hydro-Mechanical Drain Cleaners: Hydro jetting systems that break up clogs with high-pressure water. What’s left of the blockage is flushed through the line. Some units work with hot and cold water. High-pressure sewer jetting equipment can effectively clear pipe around curved or angular sections.

Key Specifications to Consider

In addition to drain size and cable length, important specifications for drain machines include line capacity. This is the diameter and length of cable used with the power supply. Drum capacity is how long a cable the unit’s drum can hold. Motor/engine power is also an important factor, and is generally expressed in horsepower (hp) and RPM, or the maximum speed of the motor or engine. Weight is important for most contractors, as it has a direct impact on portability.

Contact One Source Home Service

Our team uses the latest, most effective drain cleaning equipment. We use advanced drain machines to clear simple clogs and address more serious blockages deeper in drain and sewer lines. If you have a sudden overflow of water, a sewer backup, or just a stubborn clog, contact us for drain cleaning in Colorado Springs. For emergency drain cleaning and other plumbing services, call 719-532-9000 today.

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