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Customers often ask for our recommendation on the best way to unclog a drain or sewer line – a plumbing drain snake or a hydro jet. Just like many other plumbing jobs, it all depends on the specific problem with your drain.

So 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

Whether you call it an auger or a snake, at the most basic, it has a long metal tube encasing an inner cable with blades or a corkscrew attached to one end. The other end has a crank. The corkscrew end is inserted in the drain and 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 larger, motorized version of a plumbing snake is typically used by an experienced plumber, or is sometimes rented.


Snaking has been used for decades to unclog blocked drains. It still is a reliable tool that tends to be the 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 is somewhat limited. The hole it can make through the clog is only as large as its tip, which means that it can only clear up a small space for water to flow smoothly from the clogged drain. It typically cannot remove all traces of the blockage. The snake is ideal for minor declogging jobs, but it is a temporary fix.

Hydro Jet

Hydro jet is a more sophisticated plumbing tool for clearing drains. The high-pressure hose comes equipped with special nozzles that can be attached to the terminal end. It connects to a machine that pressurizes the water that forces the clog out of the drain. 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.


A hydro jet is more efficient at clearing drains and sewer lines of all types of clogs, including invasive tree roots. It is a great solution 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.


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.

At West Coast Sanitation, we know that you do not have time to deal with septic problems. If your system is being affected by household clogs or invading tree roots, please give us a call at (951) 780-5922 right away. We have professionals ready to answer your questions and get your system working properly again.