Clearing Or Cleaning? Which One Should You Choose?

You've probably heard of the local plumbing services in your area offering sewer clearing and cleaning services. At first glance, the two terms seem to represent the same service -- getting rid of the blockages that plague your home's plumbing. As it turns out, there's enough difference between sewer clearing and sewer cleaning that merits an explanation of the two. The following takes a close look at the distinctions between sewer clearing and sewer clearing, as well as which one works best for your plumbing needs.

Sewer Clearing: Gets Rid of Stubborn Clogs

Just as it says, sewer clearing focuses specifically on clearing out any blockages that are preventing your sinks and toilets from draining properly. As a result, some plumbers may market this service under "basic sewer cleaning" or "basic drain cleaning."

Most sewer clearing jobs are done with a mechanical snaking tool equipped with a clog-busting auger at its head. The technician will rotate the auger as soon as it makes contact with the clog, allowing the head to bust through and subsequently break up the clog. In most cases, remnants of the busted-up clog are then flushed further along the sewer line.

In most cases, having a sewer line cleared takes less time and requires fewer specialized tools than a thorough sewer cleaning. This also makes the option of sewer clearing less expensive than sewer cleaning. The only downside to sewer clearing is that it can leave behind a large amount of leftover debris. Since much of this debris clings to the pipe walls, it's only a matter of time before another clog forms.

Sewer Cleaning: Going Beyond Breaking Up Clogs  

Unlike sewer clearing, sewer cleaning goes further in-depth to tackle sewer and drain blockages. Instead of merely removing clogs and other blockages, a typical sewer cleaning also removes the leftover debris that usually remains after a typical sewer clearing. Most sewer cleanings start out with a video inspection of the sewer pipe in question. A video inspection, performed with a special camera attached to a flexible rod, helps the technician accurately locate the source of the clog and assess the condition of the pipe itself.

The tools used to perform a sewer cleaning are a bit more powerful than your typical plumbing snake. For starters, your technician may use a motorized sewer snake with a larger auger head. These snakes are capable of working through tree roots, hardened clogs, and other obstructions that can't be removed with a normal snake.

For particularly stubborn clogs and deep cleaning, your technician may break out the hydro jetter. Think of it as a pressure washer for your sewer pipe. Just like a pressure washer, a hydro jetter utilizes a constant stream of pressurized water to break through clogs and other obstructions. Hydro jetters are also capable of removing the various fat deposits, dirt, and debris that tends to accumulate on the pipe walls.

The only downside to sewer cleaning is its cost. According to HomeAdvisor, it could cost as much as $900 to thoroughly clean a main sewer pipe, especially if there are numerous obstructions that require specialized treatment. Keep in mind that this treatment could potentially reveal the need for a sewer pipe replacement due to damage caused by old age or root intrusion. A typical sewer pipe replacement could set you back thousands of dollars.

Which One Should You Choose?

Choosing between sewer clearing and sewer cleaning largely depends on the severity of your sewer line issues. Most homeowners are likely to try a sewer clearing first and only resort to sewer cleaning if the former fails to resolve the issue. It's a good idea to consult with your technician before having a clearing or cleaning performed.


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