Archive for the ‘plumbing’ Category

One of the more popular items we rent during the winter months are drain cleaners, often called “sewer snakes”.  Rain, leaves, trees, or other materials can plug up sewer pipes and begin to cause problems in the house.  Showers and sinks drain slowly; the toilet gets plugged; or water and sewage back up into the house.  In most cases, a sewer snake will unclog the pipes.  However, snakes are not a one-size-fits-all solution.

20' Manual Snake

20′ Manual Snake

The clog is in the toilet. A 6′ commode snake can go through the toilet bowl and break up the clog or pull out a child’s toy or other foreign object.  Using anything other than the 6′ commode snake to go through the toilet will end up with the snake getting stuck in the toilet.

The clog is below the toilet. You’ll need a longer snake and you’ll have to remove the toilet from the floor.  Instructions on how to remove and replace a toilet can be found on the DIY Network website.

25' Electric Snake

25′ Electric Sewer Snake

The diameter of the pipe will dictate the size of snake you need.  If the pipe is 2″ in diameter, one of our 20′ snakes with the smaller diameter won’t adequately unclog the pipe.  Once the snake has reached the clog, you’ll have to rotate the snake inside the pipe (either manually or electrically depending on which snake you’re using) to scrape all around the inside of the pipe.  If the snake is mismatched with the pipe, it won’t scrape all around the insides and leave some of the clog behind.  Sometimes in order to get the diameter snake you need, you’ll have to get a longer snake even if the length seems like it might be overkill.

The clog is inside the building. In most cases, a 20′, 25′, or 50′ snake will do the trick whether it’s a sink, bathtub, shower, or toilet.  If the toilet, bathroom sink, and shower are backing up, a longer snake will be needed because the clog is in a pipe that runs to all three units.

90' Electric Snake

90′ Electric Snake

The clog is outside the house. If the clog is outside the house, it is in the mainline. Most mainlines are 4″ in diameter and require the 90′ electric snake.  If this isn’t long enough or doesn’t work, chances are you’ll have to call a plumber.  If you find the clog, but are unable to clear it, the line has most likely collapsed at that spot and will need to be repaired or replaced.

There are different types of clogs.  Inside the house, you’ll either be dealing with clogs that consist of hair, powered laundry soap, dirt, food, human waste, or whatever items children flush down the toilet.  An arrowhead or a retrieval attachment will either break up or grab the clog to pull it out.  In kitchens, you can also have what’s known as a grease clog.  Grease clogs form when we pour the fat and grease from our cooking down the sink.  Over time, the grease hardens in the pipe and builds up.  For these, you’ll need the grease cutting attachment with teeth designed to cut up the grease and scrape the inside of the pipe.  If the clog is in a pipe outside the building, most likely plant and tree roots have grown through the pipe causing a blockage.  Root cutters with teeth that follow a spiraling metal plate will cut up and clear the roots.

Water Jet Snakes.  If your clog is being difficult about going away with your typical snake or you know it’s made up of grease, sand, ice, or other material, a high-pressure water jet snake will help flush the clog away without leaving residue behind.  A more detailed explanation of how water jets works can be found on the Rental Equipment Register’s website.

Sewer Cameras.  If you’re not sure what’s clogging the pipe or whether it is worth renting a snake, the latest addition to our rental fleet may be your answer.  The ECAM Ace Camera Pipeline Inspection System can take a look down a line from 3″ to 10″ in diameter and help determine whether the problem is roots, a clog, or a collapsed line interfering with your plumbing system.  More information can be found on the manufacturer’s website

If you use a sewer camera, keep in mind that sewer cameras are only designed to look at what the clog is.  The head is not designed to break apart or retrieve the clog.  You’ll have to rent a sewer snake to get rid of the clog.  The only thing that will break in this instance is the camera, not the clog.  If you attempt to use the camera to break up or retrieve the clog, the most likely piece to break is the lense at the end.

In the unfortunate instance that you find yourself in need of a sewer snake or camera, call your local Bunce Rental store.  Our staff will be able to help you determine the equipment that is best suited to your purpose.