The Benefits of Flexible Shafts for Drain Cleaning Jobs

Drain cleaning machines using flexible shafts are lighter and easier to clean

The Benefits of Flexible Shafts for Drain Cleaning Jobs

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When applied to drain cleaning machines, one technology can be especially beneficial — flexible shafts.

A flexible shaft is a precisely defined and configured nested group of springs, tightly wound so that it has torsional, or rotational, strength as opposed to the tensile strength found in standard wire rope or cable.

What makes flexible shafts useful for drain cleaning is that they can bend but also still rotate. In other words, a flexible shaft transmits rotary motion much like a solid shaft, but it can be routed over, under and around obstacles that would make using a solid shaft impractical.

Flexible shafts are used in a number of applications, including advanced aerospace technologies. Their flexibility, combined with tensile strength, makes them a force in the tight, twisted environments often encountered in drain cleaning. When compared to other drain cleaning technologies, flexible shafts are advantageous in that they are smaller, lighter and more flexible; easier to clean; and enable the use of a camera while drain cleaning.

These characteristics are helpful in two ways. First, the light weight and size is useful primarily for operators using and transporting the equipment to the job site. The cables traditionally used in drain cleaning can be large and heavy, as well as difficult to transport. In addition, traditional drain cleaning cables, which more or less resemble extremely long, tightly wound open springs, are not very flexible. This can make maneuvering the cables through drains difficult. However, flexible shafts can be useful in applications in which the clogged pipes are particularly bendy or hard to navigate with the stiffer traditional cables. 

Another advantage flexible shafts have over traditional drain cleaning cables is that they are exceedingly easy to clean. Traditional cables are like large, hollow springs — and springs are open to the air, so as the cable moves through the dirty drain, unclogging debris, that debris becomes lodged in the cable. Being that these cables are long and tightly wound, it’s a hassle to maintain them and keep them clean. Flexible shafts, on the other hand, are covered in a protective casing, making cleanup after use much easier.

Lastly, flexible shafts can be advantageous to use over other drain cleaning methods in certain situations because they clean drains without water, enabling the use of a camera. When jetting, camera use is impossible due to the high volume of pressurized water. Cleaning a drain using a machine based around a flexible shaft (or other dry cable) allows a camera to be fed into the drain just behind the spinning end of the cable. This can be helpful, as it allows you to see what exactly is blocking the pipe, enabling you to adjust your cleaning method if necessary.

One example of flexible shafts being used in drain cleaning to great effect is Clog Squad of Holland, Michigan. According to Clog Squad, it had been searching for a lighter, safer and easier way to clean drains and found it in a flexible shaft. The Clog Squad’s Clog Dog drain cleaning machine is based around the use of a flexible shaft and it has made the job cleaner, safer and much more effective.

Clog Squad uses flexible shafts from S.S. White Technologies. The manufacturer ensures that its flexible shafts are always designed to exact specifications using proprietary software.

“It works fantastic,” says Ken Beyer, co-owner of Clog Squad. “We can use our cameras, so it’s turned drain cleaning into like a surgical experience, like arthroscopic surgery. We can go right in and, as the shaft comes out, we can disinfect it, which is huge.”

About the Author

David Neville is a sales account manager at S.S. White Technologies.


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