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Plumbing Snakes Vs. Hydro Jetting

A clogged sewer line can make draining a sink or flushing your toilet an agonizingly long process. There are two ways your plumber can deal with the problem -- he or she can use a plumbing snake or opt for hydro jetting. Each tool has its own set of advantages and drawbacks to consider.

Pros and Cons of Plumbing Snakes

Plumbing snakes are the tried-and-true solution to most sewer line clogs. A typical plumbing snake, also known as an auger, consists of a cable encased in a metal tube. A hand crank extends or retracts the cable as it is fed through the drain and towards the blockage. At the end of the cable is a corkscrew auger or blade designed to cut into the clog and either break it apart or hook into and pull it from the pipe.

The good news is that using a plumbing snake is a relatively inexpensive way of dealing with minor clogs that cause slow draining. Unfortunately, the average plumbing snake isn't powerful enough to deal with tree roots or exceptionally large clogs.

Pros and Cons of Hydro Jetting

Instead of using mechanical power to dislodge clogs, hydro jetting systems harness the power of pressurized water. A hydro jetting system consists of a high-pressure water pump that feeds pressurized water through a length of high-pressure hose. At the end of the hose is a jetting nozzle that expels water at high speeds. The resulting stream not only cuts through clogs and other debris, but it also propels the hose along the sewer line.

One advantage hydro jetting has over plumbing snakes is that it's capable of tackling stubborn clogs that most snakes can't remove. Hydro jets can cut through intruding tree roots and break apart hard-to-remove grease and hair. The downside is that hydro jetting can be expensive -- the average cost to have a professional carry out this task is $350 to $600, compared to paying as little as $100 to snake out the sewer line, according to CostHelper.

Which Works Best?

It depends on the type of clog you're dealing with and how far along the sewer line it is. Stubborn clogs and tree roots will benefit from hydro jetting, while smaller clogs closer to your sink or toilet will benefit from mechanical snaking. Your plumber may use a camera to scout out the sewer line and visually identify the type of clog present. With that information, your plumber will recommend the best course of action.

If draining your bathtub or kitchen sink takes longer than watching paint dry, it's time to have a plumber like those at Southern Sanitary Systems Inc take a good look.