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Cutter Selection: The Pusher Option

Published on Friday, August 21, 2015

Cutter Selection: The Pusher Option

As a drain cleaning professional, you take into consideration many important details when performing a service call. That is one of the characteristics of being a pro! You know what questions to ask. You know how the drainage is laid out. You know the right place to set up your snake.You know the correct tools to use and what cutter heads work best in your situation.


 If you have been in the drain business for awhile you get to see some crazy stuff. For example: I was driving across Rhawn Street in Philadelphia the other day. Of course I noticed the three guys using a 1/4" hand crank snake to clean a curb trap. The house traps in this area is at least 7 feet below the sidewalk. It was a commercial building with a restaurant on the first floor. As a pro you understand they were using the wrong tool, from the wrong place, and which most likely got them the wrong result. Hopefully they did not get the cable caught in either the stand pipe, the curb trap, or the city sewer. Let's keep a good thought! Picking the correct cable size, machine, and cutter head is essential to success. With any luck ,they survived the ordeal without doing any damage or requiring a cable retriever.


As a Pro you might consider some additional factors:

  1. Pipe Material can play a role in which cutter you choose. If you are working on plastic, or maybe Orangeburg pipe, you might not want to use a sharp blade or you will wind up outside the pipe. Half blades, U, and C style cutters can get caught on open terracotta joints. We have all been in that situation. If there is a bad joint, you will find it!
  2. Pipe Size can influence your decision, too. Using a small cutter will have very little cleaning effectiveness, wasting time and effort. Using a cutter that is too big will bind up on fittings, joints, and turns, causing wear and stress on your cable.
  3. Does the pipe have a curb trap, running trap, or lots of turns to get to the sewer or septic tank? Distance can also be a consideration. I sure do not want to have a large cutter out on 200 foot snake from a toilet sweep. There are many considerations for picking the correct cutter head. Bad things happen when you pick the wrong tool!

Specialty tools can make all the difference in your success. Sludge builds up in a pipe. It's a common occurrence. Have you ever seen a residential storm drain and sanitary sewer run in the same trench? When the sanitary becomes clogged the backed up water can put back pressure on the old cement joints. The water then crosses over into the storm drain.  In Philly, we call this a "muck job". The solids stay inside the sanitary making a difficult clog. It creates a long length of sludge build up in the pipe like toothpaste. Very nasty stuff. The "Pusher" or "Sludge Buster" tools, when used with the impeller action of dual cables and some water, does a great job in getting the sewer clear of this thick sludge. The cutter uses that center disc to help push the sludge, allowing water to thin out the clog, and push the debris, re-establishing flow. These cutters come in four convenient sizes.


The right tool, at the right time, in the hands of the trained pro makes all the difference. 

Author: Jim Fay

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