Why Plumbers Use High-Pressure Air to Unclog Pipes

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Why Plumbers Use High-Pressure Air to Unclog Pipes

Have you ever been forced to call in a plumber when you could not handle an especially stubborn clog? If so, you might have noticed the plumber using high-pressure air to deal with the problem. In less time than it takes to brew a pot of coffee, he got your pipes flowing freely again. Pretty cool, right?

High-pressure air is one of several tools that plumbers can turn to when clogs are especially stubborn. All the tools our Salt Lake City plumbers carry on their trucks are designed to affect safe and proper repairs. When it comes to clog repair, we do not rely on things like over-the-counter liquid drain cleaner.

Almost Always Effective

So why do plumbers sometimes utilize high-pressure air to unclog pipes? First and foremost, because it is almost always effective. A clog has to be super stubborn to withstand a blast of high-pressure air. Any clog that stubborn could be a sign of other issues. Most clogs break free with just one or two blasts of air.

Unclogging pipes with air can be done with a manually operated device known as a water ram. Once attached, the ram is manually pumped to build air pressure. When it reaches the desired pressure, you pull the trigger to release the air. Likewise, plumbers can also use an air compressor with a special wand that fits down into the clogged pipe.

Safe for Your Plumbing

Plumbers also appreciate unclogging pipes with high-pressure air because it is safe for your plumbing. Unlike commercial drain cleaning products, forced air doesn't pose any danger to drains, pipes, seals, or valves. There is also very little danger of pipes bursting or springing leaks as a result of using this particular solution.

When It Doesn't Work

No plumbing fix works 100% of the time. When high-pressure air doesn't resolve a clogged pipe, plumbers do have additional tools they can try. Here are the three most common:

  • Mechanical Snake – A mechanical plumbing snake is a device that can be inserted into a clogged pipe. Once the tip reaches the clog the plumber begins to rotate it. This allows the snake to either drill through the clog or allow the plumber to pull the clog out by reversing the snake.
  • Electrical Snake – An electrical plumbing snake is identical to a mechanical snake except that it is driven by an electric motor. Especially stubborn clogs can be released more easily with the extra energy provided by the motor.
  • Hydro Jet – A hydro jet is a specially designed machine that utilizes high-pressure water to clear pipes. A tube with a special nozzle is inserted into the plumbing, followed by releasing a blast of water. This effectively does the same thing as air pressure.

Hydro jetting is a pretty sophisticated operation that could damage plumbing if it is not done properly. Therefore, plumbers have to be trained and certified before they can utilize this particular tool. It is a tool of last resort should other options fail.

If none of the tools mentioned in this post resolve a clogged pipe, there may be no choice but to use a camera to locate the clog then actually cut away the piece of pipe in question. This type of procedure is rare for residential plumbing. In almost every case, plumbers can unclog stuck pipes with air pressure or a plumbing snake.

If you are having trouble with your plumbing anywhere in the Salt Lake City area, give us a call. Salt City Plumbing, Heating & Air utilizes only the latest and best techniques to solve all your plumbing problems.

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