What Is a Drain Machine?

Jan 7, 2022

Certified plumbers use drain machines to unclog, clean, and inspect drain lines and pipes. When you have a slow sink or bathtub drain, it backs up, or your toilet is clogged, we can use various types of equipment to remove obstructions without performing invasive repairs. The technology has advanced from the flat metal tape once used to clear drains to various hi-tech machines of different sizes and capabilities.

A modern drain machine features stronger cable and cutting components, a lighter design, and safer operation for trained professionals. Below are the types of machines a plumbing technician may use in residential and light commercial applications:

    • Sectional Cable Machines: Use cables from 4 to up to 15 feet long that rotate within the pipe. These are linked to a power auger, but the main unit and cables are transported separately and assembled when ready for use. An open cage construction means sewage materials can splatter.
    • Continuous Cable Machines: The auger unit in these machines contains an enclosed drum with a wound continuous cable, so there’s no splatter. The cable can vary in length; some units have cables up to 100 feet long. No cables are added when operating the machine.

There are many brands of drain cleaning machines. Each piece of equipment may be characterized by the pipe size and maximum pipe run it is designed for. Drum capacity, cable size, motor power/rpm, weight, and the presence of a power cable feed, motor brake, air-operated foot switch, cable safety guide, and GFI power cord are other characteristics to consider.

Basic Professional Drain Cleaning Tools

When you’re facing a clogged drain or pipe, a plumber may use one of these common tools, depending on what’s most appropriate for the issue at hand:

    • Toilet Auger: If the problem is limited to your toilet, this tool is designed to pull the material or item out of the toilet, rather than force it down into the plumbing system.
    • Manual Auger: A hand auger features a hand-operated crank that drives a 25-foot cable. It’s not motor powered, so is a little slower, but lets a technician clear delicate drain lines without damaging them.
    • Mini Snake: A powered drill with a 50-foot cable, it is used in any drain line with a P-trap. This includes drains for small bathtubs and laundry equipment. The cable will fit through any pipe.

For sink and other secondary drain lines, more powerful drain machines can be used. They feature larger, more rigid cables to address clogs in larger pipes. While some are suited for only 1.5-to-2.5-inch diameter pipes, sewer line cleaning machines can be used in pipes that are 3 inches in diameter or larger. They can also reach farther with a 100-foot cable, while a large cutting blade can tear through anything from clumps of toilet paper to tree roots.

Hydro Jet Drain Machines

Hydro jetting equipment is worth mentioning here because of its versatility and convenience. It shoots high-pressure jets of water to unclog pipes and clean pipe walls, Mini jetters are used for sinks and other secondary drain lines, while heavy-duty mainline jetters blast through buildup and small roots in larger drain and sewer lines.

Video Cameras

Cameras are important for the use of drain machines. These come in different sizes and can transmit footage directly from the inside of pipes. A plumber can record the location and depth of the camera to identify exactly where a blockage, hole, crack, or intruded tree root is. If an additional repair is needed, the plumber can access the pipe locally without extensive demolition or digging.

Schedule Professional Drain Cleaning Today

The drain cleaning tools mentioned in this article remove clogs and are great for preventative maintenance. Elmer’s Air Conditioning and Plumbing uses various drain machines for home drain and sewer cleaning in San Antonio and surrounding communities. We also offer camera inspection, plumbing repair, and 24/7 emergency service. Schedule your service appointment online or call 210-570-1717 to get started.

If you are experiencing any of the signs that your water heater needs repair or replacement, don’t hesitate to call a professional.

Elmer’s Home Services in San Antonio TX can help you assess the situation and make the best decision for your needs. We have experienced plumbers and quality service, so you can get back to enjoying hot showers and baths in no time. 

Visit Us
Call: (210) 570-1717

Headquarters: 9710 N Interstate 35
San Antonio, TX 78233

 Connect With Us




Thank you for checking out our blog. We hope you enjoyed it and ask that you please share it.

About Elmer’s Home Services

Our business provides water heater repair, emergency plumber services, and plumbing repair in San Antonio, Texas. We have proudly served over 20,000 customers. Our professional plumbers are punctual and take pride in providing reliable and affordable home services to our neighbors.

Discover the difference in our services when you get it done “The Elmer Way”. Call us today to get more information!