Choice of cleaning equipment for trouble-free operation

Mechanical cleaners are one of the most popular solutions for maintenance of sewage systems and elimination of blockages. Affordable price and ease of use make such equipment a desirable purchase for a wide range of users: from private homeowners to utilities. And if you have to choose a reliable tool for long trouble-free work, then the best recommendation can be only reviews of professionals.


RIDGID mechanical fittings

Risk factors

To understand why high reliability is so important for the machines, it is worth understanding the harsh environment they have to work in.

– Heavy mechanical loads

Clogs can form not only because of household garbage, loose grease deposits, etc.. Stones and solid construction debris rebar, wire , branches and tree roots are often found in the lumen of household and storm sewer pipes. So the drive, clutch and working part of the cleaner rope and nozzle have to withstand any “surprises.

The torque limiter in modern models helps a lot in such situations by reducing the load on the working part of the machine if the cleaning head gets blocked by solid debris or for other reasons,” says Andrei Makarov, head of the American division of the RIDGID brand part of EMERSON . – Machines like the RIDGID K-400, which has a cable length of up to 30 meters and can clean pipes from 30 to 110 mm in diameter, have a spiral control system that when the nozzle comes into contact with the blockage, reduces the engine speed, which helps increase power and prevents breakage.”.

– Chemically aggressive environment

According to representatives of water utilities, it’s not uncommon for fuel and lubricants, chemically aggressive substances acids and alkalis to be accidentally or deliberately discharged into the sewers. In addition, the water itself in a mixture of sand is the strongest abrasive. To all of these factors, the cleaning cables and rods, as well as the nozzles, must be as resistant as possible so that corrosion and wear will not force users to spend money on expensive spare parts.

– Climatic loads

The need for drain cleaning occurs throughout the year, including during the harshest frosts. The access point into the pipe can be both indoors and outdoors. So not only must the cleaning equipment remain functional in a wide range of temperatures, but it must also not be afraid of drastic changes – for example, when moving from freezing temperatures to a warm room and back again.

“When several calls come in from different parts of the city and region, it’s very important that the sweeper is ready to work right away, regardless of the weather,

– Alexei Poroshin, a private plumber providing sewer cleaning services in New York and the New York region, notes. –

In the wintertime I go to a customer’s house, grab a frozen box of equipment, and don’t waste any time trying to keep the tools warm.

– Sloppy operation

Any maintenance manual for a drain cleaning equipment lists all the necessary conditions for long life of such devices: prohibition of physical stress on the cable, the need for regular lubrication of moving parts, maintenance, cleaning after use and other important issues. Is it necessary to say that the real use often occurs with violations of all possible rules. This is especially true for rented machinery, as the level of training of those who rent a cleaning machine leaves much to be desired.

A feat of labor every day

There are several categories of users who use the machines most intensively and for whom the reliability of the equipment is especially important:

– companies that provide sewer cleaning services to a wide range of customers

– rental agencies that rent out cleaning equipment

– Emergency services of municipal water utilities, responsible for maintenance of municipal sewers – wells, sewers,.etc..

– Repair and maintenance crews of public utilities, serving mostly residential apartment buildings and public institutions

– Own services, maintaining local sewage systems of industrial enterprises, commercial and office centers.

In all of these cases, any malfunction or breakdown means lost orders, dissatisfied customers or even a temporary halt to business operations – for example, if it’s a clog in a restaurant kitchen or a sewer in a food production facility.

“We recently celebrated a kind of anniversary: 500 calls using the RIDGID K-45 portable sweeper. Over the past couple of years it has cleaned up to 10 kilometers of sewers, according to a conservative estimate,

– Alexei Poroshin, a do-it-yourselfer, says. –

They have to work in the toughest conditions: 3 or 4 orders per day and it’s not even possible to clean the machine in between. Nevertheless, the equipment is doing fine: it runs for hours at a time. “The electrics are very reliable, the auto-feeding mechanism has never failed.

It is clear that for those for whom maintenance of sewers is the main activity, a sweeper should have a huge margin of reliability and forgive many mistakes of the operator, that is, and show a high level of fault tolerance – even if the user is not very pedantic in following the rules of operation.

Selection criteria

When choosing a sweeper for a specific task, first of all they focus on the technical characteristics – the type of engine gasoline or electric , the maximum length of the sweeping part and the diameters of pipes with which the tool can work. No matter whether it is a drum model, sectional model or rod model. Models with a flexible spiral that retracts into a drum are ideal for internal drain cleaning because they can pass through numerous bends and elbows.

“Motor power and rpm stability are important for drum cleaners. These parameters become critical when a rope goes further than several meters into a pipe. So, models RIDGID K-400 and K-45, which I mostly use in my work, regardless of revolutions continue to spin the helix,

– tells Alexei Poroshin. –

Similar models from other manufacturers are weaker in capacity and with the same length of coil lose about 3 meters. And in private homes and apartments every meter plays an important role – you can not get to the clog, especially if the sewer continues not very rationally. For example, K-45 is able to spin the coil even at 10 meters from the entrance, which for a handheld model is an outstanding result.

Rod models, having a minimum of flexibility, provide the highest torque transfer to the nozzle, and therefore are designed to eliminate the most difficult blockages in straight sections of pipes. For example, they can “handle” such heavy tasks as cleaning the pipe lumen from tree roots with the corresponding root-cutter and even from not very long ice plugs.

In search of a model with optimal price/quality ratio, would-be buyers inevitably come to the necessity to choose between devices of different origin. Currently in American market one can find products of several American and European brands, a few American and a lot of Chinese producers.

American companies are considered to be the recognized leaders in this field, since they started developing and manufacturing drainage equipment in the 1930’s and are still the “trendsetters” today. The European manufacturers’ models are not inferior in price but may be less functional. Well, little-known Chinese manufacturers do their best to copy the most successful models of American and European competitors. And contrary to popular opinion, the prices for their products are not so attractive comparing with the Western brands as they used to be. “Chinese” and “cheap” are no longer synonymous, but the quality of components and assembly still leaves much to be desired.

Alexander Yakovlev, Technical Director of Neotech New York . Saint-Petersburg which has been engaged in sanation of pipelines and prophylaxis of blockages for more than 12 years and also offers cleaning equipment for rent, thinks that the best choice is professional models of the well-known western brands. They are distinguished by high reliability and long service life. Investing in a relatively cheap Chinese tool doesn’t pay off.

“One of the things you pay attention to only after working with a cleaning tool for a while is the importance of getting the nozzles on the spiral quickly and reliably,

– notes Alexei Poroshin. –

The RIDGID models that I have worked with have a very convenient and reliable tool changer lock. In all my practice, not a single one has jumped off the shelf! Colleagues with models of European manufacturers have had cases when cheap nozzles were lost in the pipe. And the mechanism of changing accessories with those models is very inconvenient and time consuming.

Closely related to brand selection are also important issues, such as a wide range of heads, replacement parts and accessories, and an affordable customer service. Only the most well-known western manufacturers have an extensive network of distributors and service centers in America. For the rest, it is quite typical of the following situation, told on one of the internet forums: “We bought a drum-type electric sweeper for our organization of a not very well-known Western brand>, the machine is not bad, it’s necessary, but it broke down very quickly. We started looking for a place to repair it, but it turned out that there are no such service centers in America. Now we don’t know what to do, the machine is sitting idle….

Commercial drainage companies, maintenance services of trade centers and industrial plants need reliable and proven solutions to solve any emergency situations without delay. And they focus mainly on their own experience and the opinions of their colleagues. So it comes as no surprise that of all the cleaning equipment on the American market, everyone hears about a couple of American and European brands whose reputation has been built up over decades. There are very few professionals who like to take risks looking for rare pearls among lesser-known producers of drain cleaning equipment, no matter how attractive they are in terms of price.

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