How to unclog a drain using a pressure washer

Written by robert fergeson
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Your pressure washer is a practical way to clean clogged drains, saving time and money otherwise spent on the plumber. By adding a sewer jetter hose and nozzle, a pressure washer can be turned into an efficient drain cleaner. A jetter-equipped pressure washer will unclog drains using only a small volume of water and no mechanical metal blades. The high-pressure water stream blasts through clogs without the danger of breaking or cutting your pipes.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Pressure washer
  • Sewer jetter hose
  • Sewer jetter nozzle
  • Crescent wrench
  • Gloves
  • Eye and face protection
  • Sewer jetter foot valve (optional)

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  1. 1

    Locate the drain access point closest to the clog. The access will be a capped pipe on or near your main sewer access. There may be several access points in your basement or crawl space, off the sewer line access in the yard or street, or under the building.

  2. 2

    Unscrew the cap slowly from the access pipe, using the wrench. Pressure behind the cap may cause sewage overflow when the cap is removed.

  3. 3

    Attach the sewer jetter hose to your pressure washer's wand. Attach the sewer jetter nozzle to the end of the hose, and begin feeding it slowly into the pipe until the hose stops at the clog.

  4. 4

    Start the pressure washer and adjust to the lowest pressure listed in the manufacturer's instructions. Release the wand trigger and start cleaning the drain, slowly backing the hose out of the drain. Increase the pressure slowly as needed, being careful of splashback and overflow.

  5. 5

    Repeat the procedure one more time to ensure that the pipe is clean or until the drain is clear. Turn off the water flow. Remove the hose and nozzle from the drain line, being careful to avoid sewage spills.

  6. 6

    Turn off the pressure washer according to the manufacturer's instructions.

  7. 7

    Replace the cap and tighten with a wrench. Clean the sewer jetter hose and nozzle with bleach or antibacterial soap.

Tips and warnings

  • Using a sewer jetter foot valve in place of the trigger wand will allow you to control the pressure washer while keeping both hands free to feed the hose.
  • Use safety goggles, a face mask and gloves to protect yourself from sewage splashback. Raw sewage is a carrier of disease, so protect yourself and your equipment by wearing proper clothing and taking precautions.
  • Stop the flow of water from the pressure washer immediately if the sewer begins backing up into the work area.

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