hydro jetting - sewer system diagram - nozzle

Frequently Asked Hydro Jetting Questions

Have you ever heard of hydro-jetting?

It is one of the best ways to clear the most stubborn clogs from a drain or sewer line. It also provides preventative drain cleaning, which keeps future clogs or backups from happening. At the very least, it will reduce your frequency of clogs.

Here are answers to the questions our residential customers have asked us about hydro jetting and how it works:

What is a Hydro Jet?

Imagine a pressure washer and a drain snake had a baby, cute right? A hydro jet — also called a hydro jetter or just a jetter — is a specialized high-pressure drain cleaning tool that moves through your pipes to break away buildup and flush away residue.

Our plumbers and drain specialists use hydro jetting whenever we need to gently clear a tough clog or whenever we need to pressure wash the inside of a pipe.

Hydro jet or hydro jetting equipment on trailer
Hydro jets come in small and large sizes. However, most often you’ll see them in large sizes for the most difficult jobs. They require a lot of experience and skill to safely and thoroughly clean out a clogged drain system.

What is Hydro Jet Drain Cleaning?

Hydro jetting is a method professional plumbing contractors use to clean clogged or slow sewage lines. It utilizes high-pressure water to remove blockages and build-up.

Hydro jetting systems normally run at around 2,000 to 4,000 PSI (pounds per square inch), which is strong enough to cut through tree roots up to a quarter-inch in diameter.

Hydro jetting requires professional experience and the correct equipment, such as a camera system to see inside a problem drain pipe.

Hydro jetting diagram of how it works and nozzle
The above diagram shows how the hydro jet’s nozzle goes into a pipe to remove debris. The below diagram is a close-up of the nozzle.

How Do You Access a Blocked Drain?

Often, the blockage is in a sewer line. Fortunately, sewer drains have access areas called cleanouts.

You’ve probably seen one in your yard. It is a capped pipe that sticks out of the ground about 2-3 inches. The hydro jet’s nozzle and hose are placed into the cleanout and then sent into the sewer line.

Smaller jobs, such as a kitchen sink, can most often be handled by a drain snake (see below). However, there are mini-jetters designed for smaller pipes. They are accessed in the same way a plumber would access a toilet or sink drain in your home.

Hydro jetting tree roots
This illustration gives you an idea of how a sewer pipe is accessed and how a clogged drain from tree roots is dealt with.

What’s the Difference Between Jetting and Drain Snaking?

A drain snake (also called an auger or plumber’s snake) is a long, steel cable with interchangeable heads at one end.

When an auger is inserted into the sewer line, the head at the end pierces the obstructions it encounters and clears a path through the pipe.

Snaking is great for clearing basic clogs and increasing drain speed, but it does not clean the drain/pipe entirely.

Rooter Machine
A rooter machine, also known as a drain snake or auger.

A hydro jet, on the other hand, doesn’t just break up clogs, it cleans your plumbing lines of material that builds up on pipe walls, such as minerals and grease.

Use a plumber who will provide a before-and-after camera inspection. When you see the difference, it is incredible. 

If there is a root issue in a line, an auger will cut a whole through them. This can be an efficient and inexpensive short-term solution.

Unfortunately, the auger will only cut a hole through the roots. It won’t completely remove them from the line. So if there are still more roots in the line, they will start to grow back immediately. A tremendous advantage of hydro jetting tree roots is that it pressure washes the pipe from the inside. In most cases, it will take the roots between 3 and 7 years before they begin to grow back. 

The auger and the jetter are both fantastic drain cleaning tools. However, the jetter tends to be more effective and long-lasting, albeit more expensive.

Can Hydro Jetting Damage Pipes?

Although the hydro jet is extremely powerful, it is actually much more gentle than an auger. If you’re looking to increase the lifespan of your pipes by cleaning your drains completely, then the hydro jetter is your best bet.

However, if your pipe is already on its last leg, both the drain snake and the hydro jetter will damage your pipes further. In that case, the line would need to be replaced as opposed to cleared or cleaned. In addition, whenever we jet a pipe, we make sure to use our advanced in-pipe camera system to diagnose and analyze the situation. This makes the procedure as safe as possible.

Watch our plumbers Ryan “Tom” Boyce and Joe “Tom” Hull as they clear a customer’s clogged sewer pipe with one of our hydro jets:


For stubborn drain clogs or blockages — especially those like in a sewer line which have the potential to create water contamination and expensive damages — using a hydro jet properly is the correct tool if you don’t want to damage pipes and get the best results for the longest time. But it should really only be handled by a professional as it can be very tricky without the proper experience.

Call 1-Tom-Plumber

Don’t hesitate to contact us here or call us at 1-Tom-Plumber (1-866-758-6237) if you’d like help with your water heater, whether it’s repair or replacement. We will immediately handle any emergency plumbing, drain, and water damage problem, including excavation of underground water lines and sewer main lines.

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