Is Hydro Jetting Safe for Use on Old Pipes?

Hydro jetting services

If you’re dealing with slow drains or a clogged sewer line, hydro jetting can be a great solution to your problems. Hydro jetting is one of the best options for unclogging and cleaning sewer lines as it tends to be quicker and more effective than using a plumber’s snake or a rooting machine. One common question we get about hydro jetting is whether it can be safely done on older pipes without causing damage, and today we’re going to answer that question and tell you everything else you need to know about hydro jetting.

How Hydro Jetting Works

A hydro jetting machine is quite similar to a pressure washer as it produces an extremely powerful jet of water that will blast away any fat and other debris that is built up on the walls of the pipe. The hydro jetting machine blasts the water out of the nozzle at more than 4,000 psi, which is strong enough that the jet of water can slice through several-inch thick tree roots like a warm knife through butter. The jet is also powerful enough that it could slice off a finger or a hand, which is why plumbers always take extreme precautions when using a hydro jetting machine.

Whenever hydro jetting is performed, the plumber will feed the nozzle and hose down into the sewer line through the sewer cleanout located outside the home. If you have an older home that doesn’t have sewer cleanouts, then hydro jetting usually isn’t an option. In this case, the plumber will typically need to use a snake or a rooting machine and access the sewer line by either removing a toilet or through the plumbing vent stack on your roof.

The hydro jet nozzle has a special design that sprays one jet of water straight out of the end. It also sprays additional streams of water backward and at an angle. The jet of water coming out of the end of the nozzle works to cut through any tree roots or blast through any clogs while the other streams work to clear away any fat, sludge and other debris stuck to the walls of the pipe. In this way, hydro jetting will fully clean out the entire sewer line and also wash any solids down through the pipe and into the municipal sewer main out in the street.

Why a Sewer Line Camera Inspection Is Essential

Before you have your sewer line hydro jetted or otherwise cleaned, it is vital that the plumber first performs a camera inspection. This is done to check the condition of the pipe and looks for any issues like leaks, cracks or major damage. The fact that the hydro jetting machine produces such a powerful jet of water means it could potentially damage the sewer line or worsen any existing damage if the pipe is old and brittle or not in good shape.

For this reason, we would typically never recommend hydro jetting as an option for old or damaged pipes. Hydro jetting is almost always a safe and effective option for PVC pipes, but we definitely wouldn’t recommend it if you have an older home with original cast-iron or clay pipes. In this case, hydro jetting could seriously damage the pipe and force you to pay even more for expensive sewer line repair or replacement. If you do have an old cast-iron or clay sewer line that has a major clog or needs cleaned, using a rooting machine will definitely be the safer option.

That being said, we would also recommend that you start thinking about having your sewer line replaced if your home does have cast-iron or clay pipes. While sewer line replacement is a fairly major investment, it can save you money and lots of stress down the road. If you wait too long to have these types of pipes replaced, your sewer line could potentially rupture or spring a major leak and lead to both your yard and potentially your home being flooded with sewage.

The main reason we would recommend replacing your sewer line is that any existing cast-iron or clay pipes likely already have some issues and typically won’t have much life left anyway. Both cast-iron and clay pipes typically have a maximum life span of around 50 to 60 years. Clay pipes were mostly phased out in the 1960s and 1970s, and cast-iron pipes were mostly phased out by the early ’80s. If you consider the typical life span and when these types of pipes stopped being used, you’ll quickly realize why we say any cast-iron or clay pipes should probably be replaced sooner rather than later.

How to Know Which Sewer Cleaning Option Is Best

Hydro jetting is extremely versatile and can be a great option for clearing both residential and commercial sewer lines. It is by far the safest and most effective option for clearing sewer lines that are clogged with tree roots. A rooting machine can also be used to clear tree roots, but it often won’t be able to cut through much thicker roots like a hydro jet machine can. Trying to cut through thicker roots with a rooting machine can also be extremely dangerous for the person operating the machine.

Although hydro jetting is an effective option for many sewer issues, there are some issues where it won’t be all that effective. For instance, if you regularly flush lots of solids down the toilet, such as diapers, feminine hygiene products, wet wipes, cotton pads, etc., the clog in your sewer line could become so thick that a hydro jetting machine won’t be able to break through it. In this case, you would need to use a rooting machine to clear the clog as it essentially acts like an auger and will be able to drill straight through all of the solids and break up the clog.

There are also times when both rooting and hydro jetting may be used to clear a sewer line. For instance, tree roots in the sewer line can capture other solids and lead to several inches or even a foot or two of the pipe being clogged. In this case, a rooting machine can first be used to punch a hole through the clog so that all of the wastewater in the pipe can start to drain. Hydro jetting can then be done to cut through all of the roots and wash everything down and out of the pipe. If you were to try to hydro jet the pipe before breaking through a thick clog, all of the water from the hydro jetting machine could cause sewage to start backing up inside your home.

At Cooper’s Water, we specialize in all types of drain and sewer line services and can help if you’re dealing with a major clog or any other plumbing or sewer issue. We also install and repair most all other plumbing fixtures and appliances including water heaters, garbage disposals, sump pumps, water softeners and water filtration systems. Contact us today if you need to have your sewer line inspected or to schedule any other plumbing service in the Indianapolis area.


Cooper’s Water has been providing water softener services in the local area for more than 40 years. As the recipient of the Angi 2020 Super Service Award and a Best of HomeAdvisor 2020 Winner, we have built a reputation for excellent customer service. All our water softeners come with a seven-year quality guarantee and we provide free estimates as standard. If you are looking for a high-quality, water softener for your home, please contact Cooper’s Water today.

Are you looking for the best water softener company in Indianapolis? Give our experienced team at Cooper’s Water a call today!

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