great way to clean out old clogged sewer pipes

harveymasonsJuly 7, 2007

As an avid reader/poster for years on this forum I'd like to give back to it by posting a great way I came up with to clean out clogged or backup up sewer lines, this application can also be used on smaller 2 or 3 inch lines as well. There has been a wealth of info on these forums and I hope I can contribute to it w/ the following post...

As a landlord/home owner sometimes you get to spend your Saturday doing fun things like jetting out your sewer line!! It seems I have a slight belly in my lateral (pipe running from my house out to my city sewer line) @ about 23 feet in. Unfortunately the only way to remedy this is to replace the line at a cost upwards of 10k. I don't plan on living here long enough to warrant that kind of investment right now so every couple of months I jet out my main sewer line to make sure it stays clear and free of clogs.Preventative maintenance goes along way! If you own a pressure washer you can do this relatively easily.Otherwise to have the pros come in and do it it will cost you anywhere from 800-1200 bucks for the same job! All you need is a decent pressure washer capable of at least 2500 psi and around 3 gpm.(the more the merrier) That is the biggest expense. If you own this already you are golden. All you need to do is buy a special jetter nozzle for around 30 bucks, 50 or 100 feet of sewer jetting hose depending on length needed, and lastly a ball valve to start and stop the flow of water because you won't be using the wand in this application. Just make sure the ball valve can handle high pressure! With these parts you have conveniently turned your ordinary pressure washer into a lean mean sewer jetting machine for a fraction of the price of buying one!!

This job is definitely a 2 man job as my pressure washer stays outside and I run the hose in my basement into my main sewer line. The ball valve is near the pressure washer so it is smart to have someone near the machine to turn it on once everything is ok and you have control of the jetter hose in the sewer line.I generally start the pressure washer then run to my sewer line and give a signal to my helper (usually my wonderful wife - she is a goodf sport) to turn on the water flow. Once this is turned on you will feel a tremendous amount of pressure in the hose and if everything is set up correctly you will feel the hose take off into the sewer line with a fury not to be reckoned with!! You just need to hold it lightly and maintain control of it.This is all due to the special nozzle I mentioned earlier that is on the end of the hose. This sewer jetting nozzle sprays various streams of water backwards and forwards at various angles. The backward jets serve two purposes: 1 to clean and scrub the walls of your sewer line(after 50 years of poo and sewage believe me those walls really can use a good cleaning, and 2 to propel it forward at a high velocity. The forward jets just break away and blockages that may be obstructing the pipe itself. Similar to what a snake will do but but at a much higher and efficient level. The beauty (if there is any lol) of sewer jetting are the backward jets the really scrub the pipe walls and move the hose deep into the pipe to clean where no cleaner or snake has gone before!! With my 100 foot hose I have actually gone in so far that I Was actually jetting out my city main line!! My run from my clean out to my city main is ~ 48 feet and when I measured how far I was in I Was in over 60 ft OOPS!!! Maybe I should send them a bill!!

After jetting your sewer line you can bring it pretty close to like new condition as far as flow and diameter. I have seen pipes with a 3 inch diameter only flowing @ about 20% due to 80% blockage especially those galvanized steel lines, those are the worst! My main sewer line is cast iron which is probably what you want if you are jetting and will last the longest. A word of caution, if you happen to have orangeburg piping which is basically clay pipe used in older houses built before 1920 DO NOT SEWER JET your line, you run the high risk of damaging and or breaking your pipe.

Now that I taught you how to sewer jet I want to also say that I am not in any way shape or form a pro at this. I am just a landlord who figured out a great way to keep my pipe clean and free of clogs. Saftey is of the utmost importance here and the use of these machines can cause very serious injury and or death if one is not careful remember...... SAFTEY FIRST!!! Happy sewer jetting!!!

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Thanks for the info. I never knew that I owned a sewer
jet:-) To add one more note....I spoke to an engineer years back about a line that I had that would fill with sand at a low spot. Fortunately there was a manhole on private property that my sewer line ran to. He said to be sure to start at the down slope end or the end at the manhole. This way whatever was washed out would flow down and out the pipe. Made sense to me;-)

    Bookmark   July 9, 2007 at 1:09PM
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I was wondering if you could post a picture of your do-it-yourself roto-rooter. I am having trouble picturing it. For the last 2 day s I have had a shower that backs up EVRYTIME I flush the toilet and would love to figure out a way to have this done on my own instead of handing a plumber $600.

    Bookmark   October 10, 2011 at 9:55PM
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I just paid the plumber a lot of money to do what you did. i was hoping to fine a way of converting my pressure washer as well. please tell me where you purchased the hose, head and valve. thanks. Rae

    Bookmark   February 16, 2012 at 1:43PM
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