Jet Power

Waterjetting helps Smith’s Sewer & Drain take off in the residential, commercial and industrial cleaning business
Jet Power

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Bob Smith used to be just a guy with a truck. Then he bought a used trailer-mounted waterjetter made by Harben and watched his business take off.

“In 1996, I drove out to Michigan to demo it, bought it and drove it home,” says Smith, owner of Smith’s Sewer & Drain in Orangeville, Pa. Until then, he had relied on cable machines. “The jetter gave me a lot more chances to help out customers,” he says. “A cable machine only gets you so far.”

Three years ago, Smith bought a new trailer-mounted Harben 4018 DTD jetter to replace the older unit, which he donated to the Pennsylvania State Fair. The tandem-axle unit carries a 300-gallon water tank; a pivoting rear-mounted hose reel; an antifreeze circulation system for cold weather; and a mini-jetter kit to handle 2- to 4-inch laterals.

More cleaning power

“If you have a big sludge backup or a grease clog in a restaurant, a jetter is leaps and bounds better than a cable machine,” says Smith, who does use cables on jobs for which they are suited.

“It might take three or four hours to unclog 100 feet of greased-up line with a cable machine, but only 10 or 15 minutes with a jetter. It’s a heck of an invention.”

Smith says it’s hard to quantify how much the jetter increased his annual revenue, but he estimates it doubled gross sales after a year or two. And using the jetter increased customer retention because it completely cleaned lines.

“In the long run, it was cheaper for my customers and did a better job, too,” says Smith, who cleans, inspects and locates residential, industrial and commercial pipelines. “When you’re finished, the line is as clean as a rifle bore. If I can’t open a line with a jetter, either the line is broken or there are extenuating circumstances. The jetter just doesn’t take no for an answer.”

Does it all

The jetter generates 4,000 psi at up to 18 gpm. Smith loves its versatility: he can clean everything from laterals and culverts to sand mounds and septic systems. The machine can even remove scale on the inside of industrial pipes.

“I wouldn’t want to be without one,” Smith says. “My jetter is one of my main weapons. I use it as a locator tool, too. I strap a sonde onto the jetter, so I can trace it and see where it’s going. If I get stuck, I know where to excavate to repair a broken pipe.”

Smith also relies on a RIDGID SeeSnake camera, a Radiodetection locator, and four cable machines: two from Gorlitz Sewer & Drain and one each from Spartan and Duracable Mfg. Co.

“I’m pretty much gunned up to handle just about anything,” Smith says. “In this line of work, your equipment has to be ready to rock and roll when customers call. You need a machine that can get in and get out. I couldn’t ask for anything more out of a piece of equipment than what I get from my jetter.”


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