How To Keep Your Jetter Clean and Rust-Free

Your jetter snake is filthy, and it’s stinking up your van. Don’t show up with a jetter caked with who-knows-what from your last customer’s drain.
How To Keep Your Jetter Clean and Rust-Free
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You’re on the job and have successfully cleared a drain. There’s just one problem. Now the snake you pulled out of that drain could use a cleaning. You don’t want the drain contents to potentially deteriorate your equipment when it’s not in use, or to deal with any accompanying smells for that matter. Here’s how to handle that second phase of cleaning. 

Tom Pranka, president of Spartan Tool, suggests using a sponge or similar material on the cable while retracting it.

“Something of that nature that won’t get caught in the helixes of the cable but can be dabbed along the edges of it to remove items sticking out,” he says. “And that sponge can be impregnated with a cleaning agent of some type. 

“But you’re not looking to clean the snake so much as you’re looking to alter the smell in those instances. Something to make it more endurable on a hot summer day in a drain cleaning van.” 

360-degree cleaning

It is important not only to clean off the clearly visible drain residue, such as roots, but also other materials that may be lingering in the drain. Pranka says drain cleaners must always assume that customers first tried their own remedies.

“You really need to address that in some matter with most snakes and attempt to remove it,” Pranka says. 

Applying a snake oil to the equipment can help counteract the acidity and baseness of some of the off-the-shelf products homeowners poured down the drain before they called you.

“It will extend the life of your snake if you do that,” Pranka says. “The other thing is snake oil tends to help with the smell as well. It usually has a little oily permeation to it. And it helps to lubricate the bearings of the feeder mechanism, so it’s a beneficial thing to do.” 

Wastewater watchdogs

WD-40 and diesel fuel — even kerosene — are all effective alternatives, but Pranka notes there is a problem using those substances. 

“Although they are effective, the problem is the next time you put that cable down the line, you’re introducing an oil or a fuel into the drainlines that is frankly illegal,” he says. “It’s a violation of U.S. EPA regulations and most local wastewater regulations to introduce that type of toxic substance into a drainline.” 

He recommends using a snake oil or a household cooking oil instead, something that can safely be put into the wastewater system. Another viable option is liquid dish washing detergent.

“That can help mitigate the acids and bases that are on the cable, and you don’t run the risk of violating an EPA regulation,” Pranka says. 

If a snake is particularly dirty after a job, spraying it down at a manual car wash or by using your own pressure washing equipment both work well. 

“The cable will easily handle the high pressure of a car wash. Car washes typically operate around 800 to 1,000 psi,” Pranka says. 

Even with that cleaning method, it remains important to oil the snake before storing it. Otherwise, it will be susceptible to rusting. 

“There needs to be a light film of a safe oil — a snake oil, vegetable oil, some type of coating that will prevent the rust from forming,” Pranka says.


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