The average contract cleaner may not realize how easy it is to transform their equipment to do sewer jetting. There are companies that just do sewer jetting, and there is a market out there. Using your existing equipment, with the addition of a valve, hose, and nozzle, you have suddenly transformed you normal pressure washer into a sewer jetter. Work can be found through plumbers and town or city officials. Another area to examine for sewer jetting is agricultural processing plants. Jetting is one of those sidelines that a mobile wash company can try without much expense. It may take off for you, as with anything, you never know unless you try.
Foot or Ball Valve
A ball valve quick connected in line can be a time and effort saver. With truck or trailer mounted equipment, there are times when you have to work away from the pressure washer. By running standard pressure hose to the piping, and then quick connecting a ball valve before the sewer jetting hose, you will have remote on and off control.
Sewer Jetting Hose
The most important modification is the addition of sewer jet hose and a sewer nozzle. The jetting hose is thin and lightweight. It has a hard smooth thermo plastic outer cover. Because it is thin, it can be sent through tight places, like around bends in pipe. The lightness of the hose and the slippery cover makes it easier for the jetting nozzle to pull it along behind it. This hose is available in several lengths, ranging from 50 to 250 feet. If a longer length is needed it can be custom made. The use of one continuous length is recommended so there isn’t any possibility of losing hose inside the pipes and so couplers or fittings don’t impede the drawing action of the nozzle. The determining factors to consider are how long a hose you will need for your jobs. And that really depends on the type of jobs that you do. Keep in mind that the longer the hose the more restricted the water flow will become, and the less water flow at the hose end. In jetting the actual water flow isn’t as critical as it is for most surface washing activities, but it does still make a difference. The most popular length hose, the one most companies purchase, is 150 feet. Note that the sewer jetting hose sold by EnviroSpec has a 1/8″ male pipe thread fitting and a 1/4 “ pipe thread fitting. This allows an 1/8″ nozzle to be installed. The smaller nozzle keeps the outer diameter to a minimum so it can navigate around tight corners better. The hose end towards the pressure washer has to be plumbed up to the industry standard 3/8″.
There are two types of sewer nozzles. The two types are fixed and rotating. Both are designed with orifices that point back from the nozzle at 45 degrees. The angle of these orifices provides self-propulsion as well as excellent cleaning action on the pipe interior. Because these nozzles have three, four, or five orifices, each hole is very small in order to maintain operating pressure. The holes are so small they can easily become blocked by small particles in the water stream. An in-line high-pressure filter installed on the ball valve end of the jetter hose helps to eliminate this problem. Some fixed nozzles also have a front facing orifice. Consider these when deicing pipes because they work best for that application. Otherwise the only consideration is whether to use rotating or fixed nozzles. Rotating sewer nozzles provide better surface coverage inside the pipe as they spin. One advantage to the fixed nozzle is that its outer diameter is a little smaller. Another thing to think about is that rotating nozzles, because they spin, wear out quicker that fixed nozzles. So the decision needs to be made as to whether the increased productivity provided by the rotating nozzle is worth the additional expense.
Since jetting jobs vary a lot, it is only possible to give generalized information. It is usually a good idea to wear waterproof gear and rubber gloves. Insert the nozzle into the pipe at least far enough so that the nozzle spray will be contained inside prior to opening the ball valve. Once its operating, slowly feed the hose into the pipe as the nozzle progresses. The nozzle will usually pull the hose itself as it works through. Keep the hose straight and push slightly when the nozzle stops. If the nozzle won’t go again with time and slight pressure exerted onto the hose, its time to try the jetter valve. Pushing hard on the hose usually just binds things up. Depending on what needs to be cleaned out of the pipe, heat can many times aid in the cleaning process. Degreaser can be used also, but don’t over do it. Remember to consider where the chemical goes after the pipe. If it ends up in a septic tank, an extreme amount of chemical isn’t a good idea. Chemical destined from a sewer processing plant isn’t usually a problem. If you don’t know what the local regulations are, check on them or forego chemical use. Because many jobs deal with sewage, cleaning hoses after the job is important. First wipe the hose as it is drawn out using a towel, then coil it and pressure wash it off. Wash off your rain gear and gloves also. Some times with clogged pipes waste will feed back into the area you are working in until the jetter nozzle breaks through an obstruction. This feed back needs to be contained somehow, either with pails or a wet vacuum. Of course if your standing in a disaster area already, a little more feed back may not really matter, you’ll know if your in that kind of situation. When you have run into clogged plumbing many times there are possibilities for basement cleaning, etc.
The Jetter Valve
Many pump companies now have jetter valves available for installation on their pumps. The idea is that the pump will operate as a regular pressure washer pump until you turn the valve. These valves are installed in the center inlet check valve port. When engaged the lever pushes the check valve closed so it doesn’t operate. The result is comparable to an engine that is not functioning on all cylinders; the pump’s output is irregular. This causes the jetter hose to jump. The jumping around action of the hose helps to get it through tight places and around corners. The jetter valve is used only when needed to get the hose through when the going is difficult. Remember that the jetter valve must be installed on the lower center check valve port on the pump manifold. These valves are not rated for high pressure.