10 Questions to Ask Before Buying A Cable Machine

Cable machines are long-term investments for plumbers, so asking the right questions ensures that you get a rooter that suits your needs

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10 Questions to Ask Before Buying A Cable Machine

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Cable machines can last for years. That makes investing in quality a no-brainer, but it also makes buying a new one a daunting process. What if it’s prone to breaking down or is cumbersome to haul?

If you’re worried about spending the next decade tackling obstructions with an ill-suited rooter, you’re not alone. MyTana created a list of the 10 essential questions to ask yourself when choosing a cable machine and describes a few of the many features and customizations that impact them. So whether you’re looking for a smaller drain machine or a gas-powered workhorse (or one of each), focusing on these factors can ensure that you find the right fit for your business.

1. How mobile do I need to be?

Cable machines come in a range of sizes and shapes, so you want one that can be moved and operated, independently, by each person on your team without causing severe back injury. Choose a quality model with frames and wheels that can handle the weight.

2. Upright or sled style?

If you frequently haul your equipment through tight spaces or up and down lots of stairs, consider an upright model that is lighter, more compact and comes equipped with stair climbers, loading wheels and smooth pneumatic tires for clean and easy transport. On the other hand, the “traditional” sled-style machines offer a low profile, which can make them a better fit for crawl spaces or storage in small vehicles.

3. Are cable reels easily changed or swapped out?

Being able to remove reels quickly and easily means you can split weight when you’re transporting the machine over snow and ice or into difficult-to-reach areas such as tiny basements with “ladder” stairs. Sled-style machines often allow for easier reel changes.

4. Will I need multiple reels of cable?

If the cable kinks or wears out, you’ll want replacement cable that is affordable and easy to get.

5. Are the machine’s mechanical and electrical safety provisions up to date?

If you’re considering an electric machine, ensure that it has a ground fault circuit interrupter for both the motor and cord. A pneumatic foot pedal can offer additional protection against electric current.

6. What kind of cable do I most frequently need?

Review the sizes of cables you most frequently need, and then evaluate what machine will best accommodate them. Matching the machine and cable to the diameter of the pipes being cleaned optimizes the capabilities of both machine and operator. You will be able to refine this further with a machine that can house multiple sizes (diameter and length) of cables.

7. Should I consider a gas-powered machine?

If you regularly rely on long lengths of extension cords to fuel your electric-powered machine, you might want to investigate gas-powered options.

8. Does the machine come with an automatic feed/retriever?

This addition makes it much easier to perform tough drain cleaning tasks, like pulling large bundles of roots wrapped around a cable out of pipe. A well-made automatic feed/retriever also allows the operator to adjust the speed of travel of a cable and blade into and out of a pipe with a quick and simple movement of a lever.

9. How big of a concern is mess?

Having a closed, open or covered basket impacts how and when you can clean your cable, but also impacts how well splatter is contained during operation.

10. What does the warranty say?

Invest in a well-constructed product from a brand with a reputation for reliability, and consider the service a manufacturer offers. No one wants to think about repairs, but drain clearing is punishing work and sometimes the worst happens. Choose a manufacturer that is ready to support you with ample parts inventory, support and quick turnaround should factory repair work be necessary.


If your cable machine goes down, so does your ability to do business. If you focus your search during the selection process, you’ll find the right product for your plumbing and drain cleaning needs. MyTana has offered a range of cable machines and parts to customers for over 60 years. To learn more about MyTana’s line, visit the cable machine product listings here.


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