Drain Line Cleaning Procedures

Cleaning Grease Lines

When cleaning grease lines in restaurants and kitchens, first apply our Citro Jet degreaser through your jetter. This not only helps loosen the grease, it helps kill germs and odors in the pipe. Applying Citro Jet degreaser also lubricates the hose, extending its life as much as 4 to 5 times. If you are using your own water tank, Citro Jet degreaser can be poured directly into the tank. If you are feeding your machine through a hose, chemical injectors are available to be hooked up at your machine’s hose attachment. Give us a call and we will find one for you.

Offering drain additives will solve many of your customers problems and add a ton of earnings to your bottom line.

If you understand the correct method for using a jetter, you know it is not how fast the line will go down the pipe but rather the amount of cleaning it will do. You should always hold one hand on the line, allowing the line to go into the pipe 4 to 5 feet at a time, then pull it back that same distance. The actual cleaning is done more in the hose coming back by your reverse jets than by the forward motion.

Cleaning Roots

Roots are a big problem and usually occur in the 4 inch drain. Roots are usually fine hairline roots that mesh together. They can be cut out with a Warthog rotator type nozzle or a cutter head attached to your jetter. Keep in mind that cutting these roots is like pruning a shrub in your yard. You will get back 3 to 4 times as much as you cut. Just cutting the roots in not the solution. You must then kill the end of the roots once they have been cut out. Also the line should be treated with a root killer 3 to 4 times a year to ensure that they do not come back.

Cleaning Septic Tanks

A jetter is ideal for cleaning septic systems. First, have the tank pumped then go into all of the leach lines with your jetter. This not only cleans the lines, but also spreads the water throughout the drainage hose, cleaning the stone around these pipes.

Residential Cleaning Procedures

Start solving the customer’s needs when you arrive. Look at the roof. Where does the vent exit? In most cases, the majority of plumbing is going to be below the vent. Find out where the street manholes are. When you ring the door bell and introduce yourself, you already know valuable information: where the sewer exits (under the vent) and where the sewer goes (toward the downhill manhole in the street). Of course, while unusual, there are always exceptions to these observations. Decide how to access the sewer. There are six basic ways:

  1. Clear the sewer through an accessible clean out on the stack or outside the building.
  2. Cut a sewer access into the stack.
  3. Dig up the sewer outside the building.
  4. Remove a toilet.
  5. Clear the sewer through the roof vent.
  6. Clear the sewer through a floor drain, down spout, driveway drain or catch basin.

Accessing the Clean-out

One of the best areas to use a sewer jetter is from a clean out. An accessible clean out allows a larger diameter hose through the sewer line. Of course, not every clean out is accessible. It may be in a crawl space or the homeowner may have remodeled over it. For an accessible clean out, remove the cap and clear the sewer. If the clean out access is on the vent stack inside a basement or garage, the clean out cap may be fused to the cast iron stack. Most older clean out caps are made of brass and were originally made to unscrew from the “Y” in the stack. If it doesn’t unscrew easily, chisel it out. After you have cleaned the sewer, replace the original cap with a plastic Schedule 40 ABS cap or expansion plug.

Overhead Clean-outs

Sometimes the only access into a sewer is through an overhead clean out. Overhead clean out are usually found in commercial buildings such as apartment complexes. Opening an overhead clean out is messy – be prepared! Place an empty garbage can under the clean out to catch the first rush of water when the clean out cap is removed. Be sure to inform the customer that there will be some spillage.

Outside Clean-outs

Some cities require each residence to have an outside, easily accessible clean out. An outside clean out allows direct, unimpeded access into the sewer. One of the main advantages to an outside clean out is that the customer does not have to be home in order for you to jet the lines to the sewer.

No Clean-out Access

If there is no clean out access, but you have a nice cast iron vent stack on which to work, consider drilling the stack to give you access into the sewer. Drill a series of small holes in the stack in the pattern of a circle. Using a hammer, tap out the area inside the drilled holes. When it begins to give, clamp onto it with pliers and bend it outward so it does not fall into the sewer. After you have jetted the sewer through this opening, you can patch the vent stack with a piece of tin or heavy tape or use a mastic compound to glue the tin to the vent stack. Also, if there is no accessible clean out, consider removing a toilet. Be sure to check for hairline cracks and be careful not to loosen or break the closet vent (the metal sleeve in the floor that connects the toilet to the sewer).

Going Through Roof Vents

For most water jet drain and sewer cleaners, cleaning the drain lines through the roof vent is the access of choice if there is no clean out. The roof vent leads directly into the sewer. When using a water jetter, you eliminate most of the disadvantages that exist with a cable machine. You can leave your unit on the ground and by using a foot switch you have full control.

Going Through a Drain

Another option is to clear the line through a drain nearest to the stoppage. Some common avenues into the sewer are as follow:

  1. A floor drain, which is usually a 1.5″ or 2″ pipe. It may also be trapped, so you will usually use your small jetting hose.
  2. A laundry, which presents a good access into the sewer using your small diameter jetting hose.
  3. A down spout, if it is connected to the sewer as in some cities.
  4. A catch basin or driveway drain.

A Last Resort

There is always the option to locate the sewer outside the building and excavate it. However, some manufacturers discourage this practice because it could result in large health problems. If you choose to go through the sewer, take extra precautions to prevent any chance of backup. Measure where the sewer exits the house. The roof vent often gives you the best clue. In the case of a remodeling job, you might check the crawl space or laundry to see where the sewer exits the building. Probe the ground using a iron bar. You will hear a hollow “clunk” sound when you tap against the sewer. To make certain you’re not just hitting a rock, follow the ditch line by pushing the iron bar into the ground until you know the direction of the sewer. Successive taps against the sewer tells you where the sewer is. Tap a hole into top of the sewer with a chisel. After jetting the lines, depending on what the city or county permits, you will either have to patch the sewer pipe where you tapped in the hole or install an outside clean out.

P Traps

Many sewer jetters worry about going through P traps. Usually, on a sink or lavatory, you would remove the P traps before cleaning out the drain line. In floor drains, they are usually at least 2 inches and cause no problem by using a floor hose. Most lines can be cleaned going down the vent from the roof as this connects with your main sewer line. Remember, when going down drain lines from the roof or interior, you should use a tip with front penetration so as to wash the debris out to the main sewer or septic system. When cleaning a line through an outside clean out, it is better to use nozzles with reverse pulls, tugging the debris back out instead of forcing it further down the drain line. A rotating nozzle is ideal for this.

Cleaning the Sidewalls

Rotating tips are best for cleaning the entire interior of the pipe.


Coupled with the HotJet USA sewer jetter trailers and trailer mounted drain line jetters, detergents manufactured on site will keep your drains clear. For over 25 years, we’ve specialized in hydro jetters and diesel sewer jetters. We exclusive engineering for hot water sewer jetter systems and our new line of cart drain jetters and propane jetters will give you the variety you need to run a lucrative drain line jetting business. Call today for expert sewer jetter equipment advice!