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Can I Use A Pressure Washer to Unclog A Drain?

Among the many ways of unclogging drainages, pressure washers have become one of the most used solutions because they effectively flush the drain of any blockages.

Although they are great at getting your drainage in proper working order, the question remains, is it good to use a pressure washer to unclog your drain?

Keep reading to find out the uses of a pressure washer, how it works, and when to use it.

A pressure washer and how it works

Can I use a pressure washer to unclog a drain? Yes, you can.

A pressure washer comprises a water pump that sucks water from the tap, a high-pressure hose, and a cleaning attachment (trigger gun) that scrubs the drains. The pressure washer takes in water from a tap. The pump accelerates the water at high pressure, squirting it from the hose at high speed. The high-pressured water then moves through your pipes or drains, breaking up any waste build-up and cleaning the drains.

Depending on what you are cleaning, you can fix various attachments to the end of the hose to clean different things.

The most common hose to use is a long flexible hose called the sewer jetter (hydro jetter or water jetter). The sewer jet has a nozzle on one end with backfiring and front-firing jets. The other end of the sewer/hydro jet is attached to the pressure washer. The front-firing jets produce high-pressure water to break up any clogs in the drain while the backfiring jets propel the hose into the drain pipes and scrub the sides on the pipes.

Why use a pressure washer over other solutions to unclog a drain?

There are many ways to clean a drain. You can use chemical drain cleaners, a drain snake, home remedies, or a pressure washer (with a sewer jet attachment).

But all these methods have their benefits and limitations. Although you can use the drainage snake to break or remove small blockages, it leaves residue or debris in the drains, which builds up over time to clog them. On the other hand, chemical drain cleaners are toxic and corrode pipes over time.

That leaves you with the pressure washer. It doesn’t only break down the clog and wash it away, but it also cleans the walls of the pipes. This effectively does away with any debris, preventing future blockages.

Aside from its efficiency and effectiveness in unclogging a drain, a pressure washer is safer and environmentally friendly. For this reason, they are great for restaurant drain cleaning. So, the answer is yes to the question, “can I use a pressure washer to unclog a drain?”

Types of pressure washers

The pressure washer you use depends on whether you can use it indoors or outdoors. Below are the types of pressure washers:

The electric pressure washer

If you want to unclog the indoor drain pipes, use the electric pressure washer. The electric pressure washer doesn’t produce exhaust fumes, making it great for indoor use.

You can use it to unclog drains or pipes that are 4 inches or smaller in diameter because they have a lower flow rate (of lesser than 2 GPM)

The gas pressure washer

Gas pressure washers have a larger/higher flow rate (2-2.9 GMP). And for this reason, they’re excellent for larger pipes found outdoors or on the exterior of a house.

They are also great outdoors because they give off harmful carbon monoxide indoors.

You can find gas pressure washers in two subtypes:

  • The residential gas pressure washer has a flow rate of 2-2.9 GPM and cleans pipes of up to 4 inches in diameter.
  • The commercial gas pressure washer has a flow rate of 3-3.9 GPM/GOM and cleans drains of up to 6 inches in diameter.

Hot water pressure washers

This pressure washer cleans faster and more effectively with lower pressure. It can heat water to higher than 120 degrees Fahrenheit. On this note, ensure that you verify the temperature limits for your hose before using it to prevent any accidents.

Is the pressure washer the best way to unclog a drain?

Well, this depends on the situation in which you are using it.

Experts like plumbers usually use pressure washers to unclog drains, remove build-up, completely clean drains and reduce the occurrence of the pipes getting blocked again. But as much as this is so, pressure washers may not be the right solution for every drain problem.

Pressure washers are not great on old drainages

This is because the high pressure on your old drain pipes can permanently damage them. And this can make you incur costs to install new drains. For this reason, you must hire the services of an expert plumber to inspect the health of your plumbing system before doing a pressure washer cleaning.

Pressure washers are great on soft blockages

Can I use a pressure washer to unclog a drain? A pressure washer only works well with some kinds of drain blockage.

Specifically, it works well on soft blockages like soap, sludge, grease, and hair. It doesn’t work well on hard clogs like tree root invasion, stones, and other hard items. It is advisable to have a plumbing inspection before progressing to the pressure washer.

The use of a plumbing inspection

It helps you know the state of your plumbing system.

A routine plumbing inspection by a professional plumbing service alerts you to any potential drainage issues before they worsen. And this helps you repair or provide a remedy in time.

A professional vs. a DIY pressure washer cleaning

Can I use a pressure washer to unclog a drain on my own? If it’s a simple clog in the drains, you can do the pressure washing yourself. However, if you don’t know what is clogging your drains, it is better to hire the services of an expert plumber.

A professional plumber has the knowledge, experience, and tools to inspect your drains sufficiently and diagnose the problem. Furthermore, a qualified plumber has insurance to guarantee their work so that you are covered in the event of any losses during their services.

Lastly, there is nothing like the peace of mind that comes with hiring the services of a professional.


Using a pressure washer to unclog a drain is one of the best and most economical ways to clean a drain. To learn more about pressure washing or hydro jet cleaning, read this article.


Jeff Campbell