4 Types of Drain Openers

Drain openers, also called drain cleaners, are devices or products that are used to prevent and unblock clogged drains. They can be used to clear grease and hair clogs from lavatory drains; solid obstructions from external plumbing fixtures; and waste buildup from underground sewage lines and pipes. There are many kinds of drain openers, and the most commonly used types are detailed below.

Chemical Drain Openers

Chemical drain openers include solid and liquid openers that are easily available in retail stores. Solid drain openers, such as granules of potassium hydroxide and sodium hydroxide, are used to cut the buildup of grease in drains and clear clogged drains. Liquid drain openers contain potassium hydroxide, sodium hydroxide and sodium hypochlorite in concentrations as high as 50 percent. Liquid and solid drain openers are poured directly into drains, where they react and dislodge organic blockages. Acid drain openers are a specialized type of chemical drain openers that are primarily used by licensed plumbers due to the health hazards associated with their use. The most common acid drain openers include sulfuric acid and boric acid.

Handheld Drain Openers

Handheld drain openers are physical devices, or equipment, that are designed to open and clean clogged drains. An example of a handheld drain opener is the handheld electric drain cleaner. This tool resembles a hand drill and is typically used to unclog lavatory, tub, shower and sink drains. Handheld electric drain openers can be rented or purchased from stores specializing in plumbing equipment. Another type of handheld drain opener is the handheld drain auger, which are useful in opening blockages up to 25 feet deep. These tools are typically operated manually and are not recommended for toilet drains since they are liable to scratch surfaces.

Air Burst Drain Openers

Air burst drain openers, as their name implies, target a strong force of gas, air or carbon dioxide into a clogged drain. The force of this gas dislodges clogs and opens drains. Air burst drain openers work faster than both chemical drain openers and handheld drain openers. Furthermore, they can reach obstructions that are at a greater distance within a drain than those that can be reached by handheld drain openers. Air burst drain openers do not leave marks or scratches and can be effectively used to unclog toilet, bathtub, sink and shower drains.

Sewer Jetters

Sewer jetters direct a high-pressure source of water through a jetter hose to open drains. They are used to remove all solid obstructions in drain pipes and completely flush out all remaining residue. Sewer jetters can easily penetrate long drain pipes and sewer lines to open all obstructions, including food, hair, grease, residue and mineral deposits/blockages. They also effectively clean the sides of drains and prevent the build-up of grime and residue. Sewer jetters are professional plumbing tools that are comprised of more than one specialized parts, including electric-start engines, pressure valves and hose reels. They typically produce water pressures ranging from 2500 to 4000 pounds per square inch (PSI) and are great for industrial and residential drain opening and cleaning.