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Use A Pressure Washer as A Sewer Jetter: What Pros Say?

If you’ve encountered clogging issues in your drain, many homeowners need to hire a professional sewer cleaner who’ll charge considerably for this job. These cleaners often use a sewer jetter to dislodge these deposits and clean the drain. Fortunately, this need for a professional sewer jetter can be avoided if you own a pressure washer.

Use a pressure washer as a sewer jetter.

A pressure washer can be used as a sewer jetter. However, professional plumbers advise exercising caution in this regard. The reason is that the pressure washing system should use the proper nozzles and hoses essential for drain cleaning. Furthermore, pipes that are already too flimsy shouldn’t be exposed to a high-pressure water jet.

Although some professionals do not recommend using a pressure washer as a sewer jetter, it can easily be converted to be used as one. Let’s discuss how to convert a pressure washer into a sewer jetter with some easy steps. But first, I will explain why some experts are reluctant to use a pressure washer as a sewer jetter. 

Reasons for Not Using a Pressure Washer as a Drain Cleaner 

There are some reservations that the drain cleaning pros have against this specific application of a pressure washer. 

  • Low Flow Rate: Although a pressure washer produces a pressurized stream of water, this force is insufficient to unclog drain and sewage drain. This is primarily due to a low water flow rate (about 2 to 4 GPM) in pressure washers compared to a sewer jetter (about 4 to 9 GPM). A pressure washer may fail to fulfill the objective for some sticky residues.
  • Damage to Pipes: Pipes are more prone to rust or damage and are at the mercy of such high-water pressure. Since such a forceful stream can damage the structure of these drain pipes, causing cracks or leaks that can be pretty expensive to repair. 
  • Nozzles and Hoses: Conversion from a pressure washer to a sewer jetter requires the right modification tools, such as hoses, ball valves, and nozzles. These nozzles are essential to control the pressure as per the requirement. Standard pressure washers often lack this equipment. Improper equipment use can become a problem by causing leaks or damage. 

Converting Pressure Washer to a Sewer Jetter 

To convert a pressure washer to a sewer jetter, first, attach the hose to a ball valve connected to a jumper hose. The hose is then linked to a hose reel and a jetter nozzle.

The end of the attachment of the trigger gun is replaced with a ball valve with quick connects. From this point, a five-foot jumper hose is attached to the ball valve. Afterward, the jumper hose is then linked to the hose reel. The final step would be to install the jetter nozzle. Every kit comes with three different sets of nozzles: the ram, the laser, and the rotor. 

The next step is to assemble the jetter conversion kit. It follows some basic steps, which are listed below: 

  • Step 1. Attachment of Pressure Washer Hose: The first step is to attach the pressure washer hose to the output of the pressure washer pump. 
  • Step 2. Connection of Ball Valve: The next step is to attach the available ball valve at the other end of the pressure washer hose. This is the replacement for the trigger gun we mentioned above, and it assists us in controlling the water flow adequately according to demand. 
  • Step 3. Linking the Jumper Hose: Attach the jumper hose to the open end of the ball valve. 
  • Step 4. Attachment of Reel Base: Attach the other end of the jumper hose to the reel’s base. 
  • Step 5. Connecting the Nozzle: The last step is the selection of the proper nozzle according to our requirements. The nozzle is attached by Teflon tape. 

These are the basic steps through which a pressure washer can be converted easily into a sewer jetter for cleaning clogged drains and sewers. 

Now let’s discuss the procedure to clean sewers with a pressure washer and some tips you should follow.

How Do You Unclog a Sewer with A Pressure Washer?

Your sewer pipes may be blocked due to various reasons. A blocked drain is neither an alluring sight nor pleasant to everyone’s olfactory senses. These clogged drains can be costly to repair or maintain via private companies. Some of these reasons could be: 

Causes of Sewer Blockage 

Below are some leading causes that clog your drains and must be removed as early as possible. These causes include:

  • Non-Degradable Items: Non-degradable items include plastic bags, polythene, polyvinyl, bottles, etc., that people carelessly toss into the drain, hoping to make it to the dump. Sanitary napkins, wipes, and even cigarette butts can block the drains pretty severely. 
  • Sediment and Calcium Buildup: Flowing water stores sediments, such as minerals, that tend to deposit along the walls over time. This gradual deposit shortens the diameter of the pipes, making it easier for garbage and sewage to clog. 
  • Grease Buildup: Most kitchen drains face this critical issue. The grease from dishwashing, food, cooking, and cleaning can eventually clog up a drain. It is because of the superior tensile and cohesive forces that lipid molecules generally possess. 
  • Plumbing: Small Pipes, Incorrect Slopes, Improper Venting, etc., can all be accorded as important reasons that can disrupt the normal flow of drains. These issues are generally caused by negligent and inefficient plumbing. 
  • Tree Roots: Trees planted close to the drain are the most common reason for the drain to be clogged because of their uncontrolled root growth. It can eventually damage the pipes and create rifts and breaks that are too costly to repair. 
  • Debris: All those objects flowing out of washrooms and bathrooms, such as soap, shampoo, hair, and foreign entities, can ultimately lead to blockages in the sewage systems. 

Unclogging a Sewer Drain

Once the water that flows through the drain is stagnated, the wastes start to pile up and create a smell and can often cause discomfort for everyone around. Therefore, let’s look at how to use a pressure washer to save this mess.

A simple test can be performed to confirm that your drains are facing a blockage. Flush your toilet and see if it blows back into the air. If it does, your drains have ample sewage clogging them up. 

Opening the inspection chamber, you might find a pile of sewage that stinks and needs immediate removal. 

Steps to Unclog a Sewer Using a Pressure Washer

Follow the guidelines below to unclog a sewer with a pressure washer:

– Step 1: Find the Right Equipment 

I recommend using a 130-bar electric or gas-pressure washer for efficient use and application. The most essential equipment besides the pressure washer is the brass bayonet fitting, 20-meter-long hose. I also recommend purchasing a pipe and gutter cleaning kit, available online and at hardware stores. 

The hose comes in various sizes, from 20-100 meters long, depending upon the extent of cleaning. The brass bayonet helps attach to the device, while the other end has a brass tip that is precisely shaped to wade through the sewage. 

– Step 2: Personal Protection

It is also advised to protect yourself against splashes as the sewage is the abode of various life-threatening bacteria, fungi, and viruses. I recommend wearing thick rubber gauntlets and PPE. 

– Step 3: Check the Nozzle Head

The head of the hose contains openings to eject water out in a 3D manner in different directions for proper cleaning. Although unnecessary, you can also drill a hole depending on your demands. 

– Step 4: Insertion into The Drain

Next, carefully insert the hose into the drain to break ahead of the raw sewage and clean it. Eventually, you will feel resistance or blockage where the hose refuses to go further.

Using a thrusting to and fro motion, try to break down the clog adherent to the drain walls. If the resistance does not diminish with the round brass head, you can replace it with a circular spinning driller to remove sewage. 

Circular Spinning Drill

After pushing the hose through, use the water’s pressure to displace the sewage forcefully. The spinning driller will work if the scum is too stubborn for blunt force.

Use a high-pressure stream first to break down the cohesion and then, with lesser pressure, clean around the drain using the 3D water mechanism that the head of the hose had. 

Ensuring Performance

The main cleaning has been achieved. To check if it was successful, pour water inside the drain to see if it quickly flows away. If it does, you have finally managed to clean the sewage using a pressure washer and saved yourself a considerable expense. 

How much is PSI needed to jet a drain? 

Although regular pressure washers are available in various ranges depending upon the pressure they provide, for a generalized hydro jetting that requires specific hoses and nozzles to unclog drains, a 1500 PSI pressure washer is most commonly used. 

Normal Recommended Pressure

The normal recommended pressure is the amount of pressure that professional plumbers recommend. However, depending upon the strength and intensity of the clog, the 1500 PSI pressure can be increased to 3000-5000 PSI.

But, such immense pressure is only needed on rare occasions while working with regular domestic drains, as specific issues can arise. 

Pipeline Condition

The condition and health of the pipes determine the PSI of the washer. Applying a large pressure can damage weaker, corroded, and older pipes, leading to leaks and breaks that can impede drainage.

Precise management of stress and force is recommended to clear sewage pipes with a pressure washer. It is best to consult a professional plumber if the drains do not unclog upon using pressure as high as 5000 PSI on the washer. 

Professional Consultancy 

If you are unsure of yourself, I recommend seeking help from a professional plumber. This will cost something, but it can save a lot as well. You can damage the pipe if something goes wrong, which can be costly and hard to fix.

Professional plumbers can aptly analyze the drainage system and provide a visual image of the condition of the sewage lines and the clog. The camera, like an endoscope, helps visualize areas that cannot be seen with the naked eye.

The camera may also reveal any waterproof coating or if the treatment was beneficial. Hydro jetting from untrained professionals might create more significant sewage issues.