What is Hydro Jetting, and When Do You Need It?

What is Hydro Jetting, and When Do You Need It?

A clogged drain or sewer system spells major problems with the daily routine, creates foul odors, and can even lead to potential health hazards and damage to your property. 

Plumbing issues account for almost 30% of home repairs across the country,  most of which boil down to clogged systems. While minor clogs can be easily cleared with a plunger or plumbing snake, more stubborn and severe clogs require a stronger solution. 

That’s where professional hydro jetting comes in as the most cost-effective option. Chicago Sewer and Drain Professionals specializes in hydro jetting in Northeastern Illinois. We want to take this opportunity to discuss what hydro jetting is and when you may need to use it for your plumbing needs. Let’s jump right in.

What is Hydro Jetting?

Worker Setting Up Hydro Jet Machine

Hydro jetting is a non-invasive plumbing technique that uses high-pressure water to clear out tough clogs and buildup in sewer lines. It involves using a specialized nozzle attached to a high-pressure hose, which can deliver water at pressures of up to 4,000-5,000 pounds per square inch (psi) directly down the drain.

The powerful force of the water can effectively clear out debris, grease, tree roots, and other obstructions from your pipes, leaving them clean and free flowing. Hydro jetting is used in both commercial and residential settings – given the necessary circumstances – and it can be a more affordable and efficient alternative to traditional, invasive methods of fixing clogged sewage lines.

What Plumbing Issues in the Chicago Area Would Require Hydro-Jetting?

Worker standing near garden

If the plunger does not work, a drain snake can generally remove the typical debris that clogs drains – hair, food waste, hygiene products, etc. – but in certain cases, it will not do the job. 

At  Chicago and Drain Professionals, we’ve been clearing backed-up sewer lines for many years. The most common issues we see in Chicagoland pipes that require hydro jetting include: 

Tree Root Infiltration

Tree roots are one of the most common issues that plague sewer lines, both in residential and commercial buildings. Unfortunately, many types of trees that grow in the Chicago area are prime culprits. When we’re called in to solve this issue, we normally see roots from these types of trees: 

  • Sycamore trees
  • Willows
  • Oak trees
  • Maple trees
  • Aspen trees
  • Elm trees
  • Birch trees

A drain snake is ineffective against tree roots. Hydro jetting uses high-pressure water to cut through and remove these roots, clearing the pipes and preventing further issues.

Grease Buildup

Grease buildup wreaks havoc on both residential and commercial properties, but more so commercial. Chicago’s food scene is widely considered one of the best in the country (we may be a tad biased on this one). There are more than 7,000 restaurants in the Chicago area. More restaurants equals more grease in the sewers.  

Grease from kitchen drains can quickly accumulate inside pipes, even with a grease trap in place. This leads to slower drainage and eventually clogs. Hydro jetting breaks down and flushes out the grease buildup, restoring normal water flow.

Limescale and Mineral Deposits

Chicago’s water supply – while highly regarded – is not immune to limescale and mineral deposits, which form inside pipes. Over time, these deposits can restrict water flow and reduce water pressure. Acid treatments are not always effective, and replacing the pipes is a big, expensive project. 

Hydro jetting – on the other hand – is an extremely effective solution to remove these deposits and improve pipe function.

Debris and Sediment Accumulation

Sediment, sand, and other debris can accumulate in pipes. Older plumbing systems are very susceptible to these issues. Assuming the pipes are in good enough shape, hydro jetting works efficiently to clear out these materials, ensuring the pipes are clean and unobstructed.

Biofilm and Bacterial Growth

Biofilm and bacterial growth are more common in commercial settings, like hospitals and restaurants. This type of building is common when large amounts of food and biowaste go down the drains. Over time, these biofilms build up on the inside of the pipes and prevent proper flow. Hydro jetting is usually the most cost-effective solution. 

Construction Debris

During renovations or construction projects, debris like dirt, sand, and certain construction materials can enter the plumbing system. Hydro jetting can quickly remove these and restore functionality. 

To give you an example, we had one residential property owner who hired painters to repaint the inside of their home while they were traveling. The workers were cleaning their paint trays in the shower – which ended up causing a serious clog. Within about an hour, hydro jetting completely cleared the pipes. 

What Are the Early Signs to Look into Hydro Jetting?

signs you need hydro jetting

Like most issues with a residential or commercial property, the key is to understand the early warning signs and solve these issues before they turn into a bigger, more expensive problem. 

If the plunger or drain snake isn’t solving the issues below, it may be time to start conducting research for hydro jetting in Chicago.

1. Frequent Clogs

This is the one you’ll notice first. Frequent clogs, water backups, and abnormally slow drains in your sinks, toilets, showers, etc., are telltale signs that it may be time for hydro-jetting. Your sewer lines are likely accumulating tough debris, scale, grease, or other blockages that must be professionally cleared out. 

2. Bad Odors

Persistent foul odors emanating from your drains or around your property are a sign that decomposing organic material or buildup may be stuck in your sewer lines. A drain snake may be able to help a bit, but in most cases, it will be temporary. 

3. Odd Gurgling Sounds

Unusual gurgling noises from your drains when water is running or when flushing the toilet can indicate a complete or partial blockage in the sewer line. This is an ambiguous problem that may be traced back to scale buildup, biofilm, or other debris. 

4. Recurring Plumbing Issues

Generally speaking, plunging and drain snaking provide quick fixes. If you find yourself repeatedly dealing with plumbing issues – largely related to poor drainage –  it’s likely time to consider hydro jetting for a more thorough cleaning.

5.  Visible Signs of Sewage

Some might not consider this an “early” sign to service your sewer line. Visible signs of sewage, which typically include wet spots in the yard or sewage backups in the basement, indicate severe blockage or damage in the sewer line. If this is the case, call a professional hydro jetting service immediately. 

How Does Hydro Jetting Work?

Worker showing the clogged on the hydro jet pipe

When you hire Chicago Sewer and Drain Pros to perform hydro jetting, here’s what you can expect:

Step 1: Initial Inspection

We’ll send a technician to inspect the plumbing system using a video camera to identify the location and extent of blockages or buildup. This inspection is to ensure that hydro jetting is the right method for cleaning the pipes and to check for any pre-existing damage that could be exacerbated by high-pressure water.

Step 2: Preparation

We’ll identify suitable access points for the hydro jetting equipment, typically through cleanouts or other entry points in the plumbing system.

Step 3: Equipment Setup

We’ll set up our hydro jetting machine, which includes a water tank, high-pressure hose, and specialized nozzle, near the access point. The technician will then adjust the water pressure based on the type and severity of the blockage and the condition of the pipes.

Step 4: Hydro Jetting Process

Here’s a snapshot of the process: 

  • Insert Hose: The high-pressure hose with a specialized nozzle is inserted into the access point and fed into the pipe.
  • High-Pressure Water: The machine pumps water at high pressure (typically 1,500 to 4,000 PSI) through the hose and nozzle.
  • Cleaning Action: The nozzle releases water in a powerful, focused stream, breaking up and flushing out debris, grease, roots, and other obstructions.
  • Movement: We will carefully maneuver the hose through the pipe, ensuring all areas are thoroughly cleaned.

Step 6: Final Inspection 

After the hydro jetting is complete, we’ll conduct a  final inspection to confirm that the pipes are clean and blockage-free.

Step 7: Post-Process Assessment

We’ll examine the condition of the pipes to ensure that they are not damaged and that the system is functioning properly.

Frequently Asked Questions About Hydro Jetting in Chicago

How Much Does Hydro Jetting Cost in Chicago?

The cost of hydro jetting in Chicago depends on factors like the severity of the blockage, the length of the pipes, and what type of blockage you’re dealing with. A plumber will come to your property to assess the problem – and provide an estimate for hydro jetting. Most residential property owners can expect to pay $300 – $1,000+ to solve their issues. 

Can Hydro Jetting Damage Pipes?

Hydro jetting is generally safe for most plumbing systems, but it can potentially damage older, fragile, or already compromised pipes due to the high-pressure water. Before the process starts, we’ll do a thorough inspection to ensure the pipes are in good condition and suitable for hydro jetting.

How Often Should You Get Your Pipes Hydro Jetted?

The frequency of hydro jetting depends on the usage and condition of the plumbing system. For preventive maintenance, it is recommended that you hydro jet your pipes every 1 to 2 years. But if you experience frequent blockages or have an older plumbing system, more frequent appointments may be necessary.

Can I Use a Pressure Washer for Hydro Jetting?

Generally no. A regular pressure washer lacks the necessary pressure, specialized nozzles, and safety features to effectively and safely clean plumbing pipes. Professional hydro jetting equipment is specifically designed for this purpose and should be used by trained professionals.

In Need of Hydro Jetting Services?

At Chicago Sewer & Drain Professionals, we’ve been helping people in the Chicagoland area clean their pipes and maintain a functioning sewer system for many years. Our team of plumbers is trained in the most efficient and cost-effective hydro jetting techniques to remove any blockages or buildup in your pipes.

Don’t let clogs and backups disrupt your daily routine – contact us today for a quote. 

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Thomas Parra

Thomas Parra is the owner of Chicago Sewer and Drain Pros, a trusted plumbing company serving the Chicago area. With years of experience in the industry, Thomas and his team have established a reputation for providing reliable, efficient, and affordable plumbing solutions to both residential and commercial clients. His commitment to customer satisfaction and his expertise in all aspects of plumbing have made Chicago Sewer and Drain Pros a go-to choice for those seeking top-quality plumbing services.