What Is Hydrojetting? And When Do You Need It?

Katy Willis
Written by Katy Willis
Updated October 14, 2021
Strawberries in a kitchen sink
Ana Rocio Garcia Franco/Moment via Getty Images

Blockages in a plumbing system or sewer lines can lead to clogged drains, and worse, a contaminated water supply. Hydrojetting is one possible solution.

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If you’ve lost count of how many times you’ve poured drain cleaner down your sink and your efforts to unclog your plumbing have been unsuccessful, you may have to call a reputable plumber to the scene.  Not only will significant debris buildup decrease your water pressure, but it can stick to the walls of your pipes and cause cracks to form if left untreated.

What is hydrojetting?

Hydrojetting is the process of using a high-pressured flow of water to scour the interior surfaces of the plumbing pipes, removing scale, grease and other debris that's built up inside the pipe walls over time. As opposed to rodding, where a plumber uses a tool to power a hole through the buildup, hydrojetting achieves a comprehensive cleaning of the pipes.

Luckily, hydro jetting is a fast and effective way of clearing your plumbing system. Learn more about what it is and how it works so you can decide if hydro jetting is right for you. 

 

What Is Hydro Jetting?

Hydro jetting is the process of clearing clogs and debris buildup on pipe walls throughout the plumbing system, by sending high-pressured water jets through the pipes. This intense cleaning helps prevent the likelihood of future clogs and backups as the water scours the pipe walls to remove grease, food particles, mineral scale, debris, and, in some cases, tree roots.

How Does Hydro Jetting Work?

First, your plumber will inspect your system to find the ideal spot to insert a hose and begin pumping the water. This high water pressure will force the material blocking the pipes to flow down the sewer system and out of your home’s pipes. 

But Hydro jetting isn't as simple as sticking the hose down the drain and firing up the hydro jetting machine. If you get hydro jetting wrong, you can break your pipes and seriously damage your plumbing system, resulting in a hefty repair bill. For that reason, it’s best to leave this project to a local professional plumber who has the right tools and experience to complete this job safely.

Here’s how hydro jetting works and what you can expect from the service, should you decide this process is the solution you need.

Step 1: The Plumber Inspects Your System and Locates Major Blockages

A plumber inspecting a kitchen’s sink pipes
Guido Mieth/DigitalVision via Getty Images

The plumber will perform a video inspection of the system to locate any major blockages and areas of heavy buildup. They'll also inspect the pipes to establish whether they can withstand hydro jetting. In some cases, very old or weak pipes cannot tolerate the intense pressure. 

If your pipes aren't suitable for hydro jetting, they'll snake the pipes (a less intense method—more on that below) or use an auger to break up any tree roots that have moved dangerously close to your plumbing system.  If your plumber determines hydro jetting is not safe considering the condition of your pipes, you may want to consider installing new, more efficient piping if you are dealing with frequent clogs and drainage issues. 

Step 2: High-Pressured Water Cleans the Pipes

Once access points are located, the plumber will drop hoses into your pipes and activate the hydro jetting machine. This machine has the power to pressurize the water up to 35,000 psi, but the plumber will adjust the pressure based on the needs of your system. 

As the water runs, the hose moves through the plumbing system, scouring the pipes free of buildup and heavy clogs. As the hydro jet dislodges the debris from the pipe walls, the debris travels downward (thanks to gravity) and is flushed safely out of the plumbing system. 

Does Hydro Jetting Work on Tree Roots?

Yes, in some cases, hydro jetting can effectively clear tree root penetrations. The plumber will refer to the line inspection video to assess the damage (or potential damage) the roots have caused your system. If damage is minimal, hydro jetting could be viable option. 

If, however, the damage is extensive or the waterproofing is no longer intact, hydro jetting could make matters worse, so you'll need to enlist the help of a local augering service to cut up and remove the roots without causing further damage to the pipes.

What's the Difference Between Hydro Jetting and Snaking a Drain?

Hydro jetting cleans pipes and removes clogs more comprehensively than drain snaking by aggressively flushing the system. It also doesn’t include the use of chemicals, only water. 

Snaking punctures clogs and breaks them apart, but it doesn't reach the pipe walls to grab super stubborn debris. However, snaking is often the chosen method for older homes or homes with weakened pipes because it’s less intense and doesn't apply pressure to the pipes as hydro jetting does. 

What Can You Remove With Hydro Jetting?

Hydro jetting can remove all kinds of debris in pipes, including:

  • Hair clogs

  • Mineral deposits

  • Grease and fat deposits

  • Food deposits

  • Silt

  • Sand

  • Tree roots (in some cases)

How You Know When you Need Hydro Jetting

There are a few telltale signs that your system needs hydro jetting:

1. Your plumbing system backs up regularly

2. Your bathroom or kitchen sink drain smells

3. You hear noisy or gurgling pipes

4. You get a lot of clogs, even though you’re mindful of what you put down your drains

5. Your drains run slow

If you're in any doubt about whether you need a hydro jetting service, it's worth calling a local plumber and asking for a video line inspection. The cost of a sewer line camera inspection is insignificant compared with the cost of replacing your sewer line. 

How Much Does Hydro Jetting Cost?

Hydro jetting costs between $350 and $600. Severe clogs and complex work can run upwards of $1,000.

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