Understanding Plumbing Basics
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Understanding Plumbing Basics

As a new homeowner, I can tell you that things aren't always as simple as they appear. I started thinking about it a few years ago, and I realized that there were some serious problems with our plumbing system. We had issues with drains working correctly and toilets flushing like they should, so I started focusing more heavily on understanding the basics of our plumbing system. Within a few short months the entire system was operating more fluidly because of a few changes that I made, so I wanted to create a blog all about my journey. Check out these articles to learn more about the plumbing basics.

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Understanding Plumbing Basics

Drain Cleaning Vs. Drain Clearing

Jorge Alexander

"Drain cleaning" and "drain clearing" are two phrases that are used interchangeably throughout the plumbing world, especially when it comes to residential plumbing services. While both services work towards achieving the same goal - leaving your drains clear of any and all obstructions - they use different approaches for tackling the problem.

Drain Clearing

To understand the difference between drain cleaning and drain clearing, it's a good idea to start with the easiest and least expensive option. Basic drain clearing involves taking care of clogs and other blockages that could cause drainage problems for your toilet, sink or bathtub. Most drain clearings are performed with a specialized plumber's snake with a heavy-duty auger attached at its end. The rotating auger breaks through most clogs, allowing the smaller remnants to be flushed further down the drain.

A typical drain clearing has several advantages over drain cleaning:

  • An ordinary drain clearing usually costs less than drain cleaning.
  • Drain clearing requires fewer tools and less labor to perform than a drain cleaning.
  • Drain clearings can be done in less time than a typical drain cleaning.

Nevertheless, drain clearing can leave behind debris along the pipe walls and other places where an ordinary auger can't reach. This is where the more thorough drain cleaning process comes into play.

Drain Cleaning

Drain cleaning goes a step beyond ordinary drain clearing. Instead of merely breaking up clogs, drain cleaning also removes leftover debris from the pipe walls, preventing clogs from repeatedly building up in problematic areas.

Drain cleanings are usually done with a stronger, motorized plumbing snake equipped with a specially-designed auger. For clogs caused by hardened fat deposits or other blockages that can't be broken up with an auger, your plumber may use a hydro jetting tool to break through the blockage and flush clog remnants further into the sewer line. Your plumber may conduct a video inspection prior to a drain cleaning in order to assess the physical state of your drainage lines.

Drain cleanings tend to be more expensive than simple drain clearings, largely due to the level of equipment used and the amount of time needed for a thorough cleaning. The video inspection may also reveal other problems with your drainage pipe, which could add hundreds or even thousands of dollars to your bill.

Which One Should You Choose?

When it comes to choosing between drain cleaning and drain clearing, it depends on what type of shape your plumbing is in. A simple drain clearing can help get rid of the occasional clog or two, while drain clearing is usually reserved for constantly reoccurring clogs caused by more serious plumbing issues. If you don't know which option works best for your home, it's worth having your plumber take an in-depth look at your drains. Contact a company, like Roto-Rooter Sewer & Drain Service, for more help.


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