There are few problems that can stop up the regular function of your home’s plumbing system quite like a clog, and the more serious clogs demand special tools to clear them up properly. When your home develops a serious clog that needs to be cleared away, there are two different tools that professional plumbers reach for, drain snakes and hydro jets. One very common question that homeowners ask is which of the two tools is best for clearing up clogs, but the honest answer is that it depends. Both tools work well for specific situations, and neither is best for every single task.

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Understanding the Drain Snake

A drain snake is a long coiled up metal wire with a rotating auger head that cuts and burrows through debris and clogged up gunk. The user spins it with a crank or auto rotating mechanism, and the auger will move effortlessly through most clogs clearing a pathway as it goes.

When to use a Snake

A snake or plumbing auger is best used for milder clogs, or in weaker pipes that simply won’t withstand a hydro jet cleaning. That’s because an auger is a gentler cleaning method that works quite well on most household blockages. A drain snake swivels and pushes its way through most clogs without an issue, and will create a pathway for water to flow through easily, but it won’t remove the entire blockage in most instances. Instead it leaves behind debris around the edges, and new clogs will often form in the same location in weeks or months after.

So if you have weak plumbing, or a mild clog a drain snake is the way to go. Otherwise a hydro jet might be worth consideration.

Understanding Hydro Jets

A hydro jet is a long pressurized hose that is sent down a plumbing system to blast away clogs. A machine generates highly pressurized water, that is unleashed into the pipe system to clear away all signs of a blockage.

When to Make Use of Them

Hydro jets are the heavy lifters of the unclogging world and will blast away dirt, grime, grease and nearly all debris in a pipe system. They leave behind no traces of a clog and are viewed as a more permanent de-clogging solution. Unfortunately, hydro jets are very powerful and can actually break fragile plumbing systems. Professional plumbers usually check a pipe system using a camera before making use of a hydro jet tool, to ensure that the pipes are in good shape and durable enough to withstand its forces.

If you have older pipes or a pretty mild clog, a drain snake is probably going to be good enough to clear the way and get your pipes flowing as they are supposed to. For more serious clogs, or more comprehensive cleaning when pipes are in good shape, a hydrojet is almost always the way to go.

No matter what sort of unclogging tool is used, it’s vital that you have any clogs that develop removed as soon as possible to keep your plumbing system functioning properly, or you run the risk of further complications, while having to deal with an out of commission plumbing system.