High Speed Cable Drain Cleaning

Best Practices – 4th in the Series

We’ve been exploring best practices for our industry. A new tool has come into play within the past few years that accelerates the drain cleaning task when a clog is encountered that stops the drains from working. The advent of the high-speed cabling equipment was born out of a need and is evolving in the drain cleaning industry as many customers apply the technology to a wider and wider variety of sewer clogs.

Originally the high-speed cables were developed to descale pipe. Conventional cables for drain cleaning turn between 240 & 300 RPM’s and just weren’t moving fast enough to get the scale off the walls of cast iron pipe. Cleaning jobs turned into days and prompted drain cleaning contractors to suggest that it would be cheaper and faster to rip open the walls and replace the pipe. Jetting equipment was applied with not much better success and while the lines could be opened and draining again, the scale would build up in a short amount of time leaving the customer back where they started. The need was there to clean the pipe to a higher level of clean than found by jetting or conventional cabling. The industry turned to the HVAC industry that faced cleaning tubing that housed large heat exchangers that had a chemical build up on the walls of the tubing. That technology took wire rope and encased it inside a flexible conduit so they could drive the wire rope at a higher speed to use speed instead of torque to clean scale off a tube. These methods worked well for short chiller and cooling tower tubes but the assemblies were heavy and required a large drive source for the motors to handle the weight on these short cables. The challenge has been to produce stronger cables that were lighter in weight and a lighter material to house the cables so they could be spun with smaller drives such as hand held drills.

The first cables employing this technology were unhoused and driven by off the shelf hammer drills that were two speed. Using them this way required two people to use them or mounting the drills so a single operator could handle the cable. Advancements came quickly by adding larger drive motors, spools to hold the cable, and clutches to prevent kinking the cables.

So here’s the best practice to employ these tools. Cleaning drains with this equipment is easy and much less dangerous than a conventional cable tool. By taping a CCTV camera head to the sheath will allow the operator see what they are cleaning and where cleaning needs to occur. Starting at the entry point, the operators can clean as the cutting head moves down the pipe. If cleaning scale on a line that is open, running a garden hose down the line being cleaned will flush the scale down the line and out into the sewer main. This is the best practice for this condition. If the line is clogged so no flow will move, a cutting tool may be employed first to open the line with a small hole so the line can drain followed by the method above with a camera attached and garden hose letting water flow down the line. The operator can move down the line and clean only those areas needing cleaning until you reach the far end of the line. If you determine that the pipe your are attempting to clean is structurally compromised, you can select a centering axel to keep any abrasive cleaning tools such as chain knockers or sanding devices centered in the pipe. This will keep your more abrasive tools from poking through the pipe wall. You can record the final retrieval of the tool and camera to show the finished cleaning level for your customer. You’ve eliminated putting a camera in initially and surveying what needs to be done, then retrieving the camera, inserting the cleaning tool, cleaning blind, reinserting the camera to see if you got it all and if you missed a spot or two, continued switching from camera to cleaning cable and back is eliminated saving you a huge amount of time. Using the high-speed cable along with a CCTV camera is a “best practice” here and works for both descaling and root removal. One final consideration should be moving the debris out of the pipe. If you don’t flush the scale and roots out into the main, you risk clogging up the line you are cleaning causing another problem. Whether it’s a garden hose or jetter, get water moving to carry debris away.

Drain cleaning considerations using high speed equipment

  1. A clutch will provide protection to cables kinking when a root binds the cutting tool
  2. Save pieces of sheathing to cover exposed cable as it will help prevent any kinking and binding on the cable
  3. Clean and lubricate the shaft by oiling the cable
  4. Use the device similar to operating a drill, let the drill end do the work instead of trying to over push the cable into the obstruction
  5. Use an outlet of sufficient capacity to operate the machine. If the breaker trips, you may be operating from an outlet that is undersized. Check the demand needed to the outlet you’re plugged into.
  6. Check your power source for proper grounding. If you operate your equipment and are experiencing an electrical shock, check the wiring to the outlet. Ungrounded or broken grounds can let the tool operate correctly but holds no shock protection.

For a complete list of tooling and equipment, visit https://pipeliningsupply.com/drain-cleaning-machines/ and check out the available tooling that best suits your needs. Call us at +1-888-354-6464 or write info@pipeliningsupply.com for more information.

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