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Clear Clogged Drain- Snake or Hydrojet?

A very common question we get asked from our customers is what’s the best way to unclog a drain or sewer line – a plumbing drain snake or a hydro jet. Just like many other plumbing jobs, the answer to this question is, “It all depends on the specific problem with your drain.”

Let’s take a look at the advantages and disadvantages of using a plumbing drain snake and a hydro jet. Each one is useful and can do a good job, based on the problem, but of course there are also downsides to every tool. This can provide a good reason to call in a professional to make sure your drain problem is corrected the right way.

Plumbing Snakes

Drain SnakeSome people call it plumbing auger while others call it a plumbing snake. It is the same no matter how it is called. At the most basic, it has a long metal tube encasing an inner cable with blades or corkscrew auger attached to one end. The other end has a crank. The terminal end with the auger is inserted in the drain. The crank is turned to extend the cable until it reaches the clog. Turning the crank with a bit of force will either open up a hole through the clog, or the clog gets twisted around the auger and the metal coil so it could be pulled out. A straight plumbing snake is used for sink drains while a plumbing snake with a J-bend is used for toilet bowls. There is a larger, motorized version of a plumbing snake, which is typically used by an experienced plumber, or is sometimes rented by a DIYer.

Hydro Jet

Hydro jet drain cleaningA hydro jet is a more sophisticated plumbing tool for clearing drains. It consists of a high-pressure hose with special nozzles that can be attached to the terminal end. It connects to a machine that pressurizes the water, whose force is what makes the drain free from clogs. The force of the water plus the action of the terminal end nozzle attachment cause hair, mineral build up, grease, oil and other debris clogging the drain to be forced down the pipe. Even tree roots could be broken into small pieces by the force of the water. It is typical to have the drain inspected with a camera first to determine if the pipe is damaged before using a hydro jet.

Pros and Cons of a Plumbing Drain Snake & Hydro Jets

  • Plumbing snakes


Snaking has been used for a number of years for ridding clogs from blocked drains. It still is a reliable tool used by homeowners and plumbers. You can consider this a gentler method to clean drains, especially pipes that are too weak to withstand the water pressure from a hydro jet. It is suitable for homes with older plumbing systems.


A plumbing snake’s capability to remove clogs however is limited. The hole it can make through the clog is only as large as its tip. This means that it can only clear up a small space for water to flow smoothly from the clogged drain, but it cannot remove all traces of the blockage. It is great for minor declogging jobs, but it is a temporary fix. For more detail on the plumbing snake process click here.

  •  Hydro jets


A hydro jet on the other hand makes a thorough job of clearing drains and sewer lines of all types of clogs, including invasive tree roots. It is applicable for both residential and commercial use. The plumber only uses the power of water to clean the drains. Therefore it is an environmentally-safe cleaning device as no chemicals are necessary to rid the drains and sewer pipes of blocking debris. For more detail on the hydrojet drain cleaning process click here.


Hydro jetting is not a safe option for homeowners who want to do the clearing of drains themselves. It can be too much for fragile and older pipes to handle. A professional plumber can carefully inspect your plumbing line by using a camera to view the inside of pipes to determine their structural integrity. If the pipes are damaged or weak, hydro jetting is not an option because it can do more harm than good.

The Best Drain Unclog Option Requires Some Expertise

The best method to clear up drains depends on what is causing the problem. A plumbing snake is all right for slow-flowing drains and for removing occasional clogs such as food stuff stuck in the drain, accumulated hair in tubs and shower drains or drains clogged with a small toy or toilet paper. A hydro jet is the best choice when plunging and snaking is not effective. Call a professional plumber to do the hydro jetting or snaking. Our plumbing experts know how to safely operate these drain cleaning tools without damaging your drain system.

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