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Drain Cleaning

How To Choose The Right Drain Cleaning Tool

Many people ignore the drains in their homes until something goes wrong. More than just a stopper at the bottom of your sink or tub, a drain is essential in whisking away the water from your home through the plumbing system. Backed-up toilets, sinks that are slow to drain, and standing water in the shower are just a few of the pesky problems that signal that it’s time to break out the plumbing tools or call a professional. More severe issues result in extensive repairs that can prove costly, but the good news is that when you learn how to choose the right drain cleaning tool, you can easily tackle most drain issues yourself.

Types of Drains in Your Home

Ridgid K-45AF-1 Sink Drain Machine

Every home has several types of drains, including those in your kitchen, bathroom, and laundry room. Wherever water comes out, it must have a way to leave. Tubs, sinks, and toilets all have drain lines, but so do your major appliances, such as your washer and dishwasher. These drain lines are just the beginning of your plumbing system, and each connects to the main line where water exits into your septic or your city or town’s water system. Numerous plumbing problems can arise with your plumbing, with a clog being the most common and also among the easiest to fix, even for a homeowner.

Types of Clogs

Clogs afflict drains and pipes, causing standing water in a sink or tub. Serious clogs result in a backed-up washing machine or a flooded basement or main floor.

Type of ClogCause of ClogHow to PreventBest Tool(s) to Clear
Grease ClogsGrease being dumped down the drain Washing dishes with significant grease contentRecycle grease Remove most of grease content from dishes prior to washingIf drain cleaner fails, use auger or water jetter to power the clog through the pipes
Vegetation ClogsTree roots entering main house pipesRemove trees with invasive root systemsPipe-freezing kits to access and isolate sections and then drums to clear blockages
Hair ClogsHair being washed down the drain in bath or shower Flushing facial hair down the toilet or sinkUse a drain trap to catch hair in tub or shower Shave over a solid surface and toss hair in the trashDrain snakes, augers, drums and water jetters are all suitable tools
Object ClogsToys being flushed down toilet Jewelry or small objects falling from edge of sinkDon't place objects too close to sink ledgesDepends on the size of the object lodged in the drain Augers, drain snakes, water jetters and drums all work

Knowing exactly what type of clog you’re facing helps determine which tool to use for the best results. If you cannot clear a clog with tools, a professional can help resolve it before it does more damage.

Types of Tools

There are several types of drain cleaning equipment designed to help clean out drains, and these tools range from essential to handheld, and for stronger drain clogs, electronic tools. The type of tool you’ll need to clean out the blockage depends on the kind of clog you’re facing.

Basic Drain Cleaning Tools

Ridgid Auger K1 Combination

When a clog strikes, it’s not uncommon to reach for the liquid drain cleaner, but you’ll find that there are times when it’s not strong enough and requires additional tools. Drain cleaning tools like drain snakes are a popular drain cleaning tool for toilets and sinks and are best used for minor drain problems such as a clump of hair. They are long metal sticks narrow enough to fit within your tub or toilet to push through or break up the clog. They’re often used with an auger, which features a hook-and-loop design that grabs the source of the clog so you can pull it out. Augers are especially helpful in capturing and removing small objects such as jewelry and toys.

Electric Drain Cleaning Tools

Clogs more profound in the plumbing system require more power than a simple handheld tool can. In these instances, choosing electric drain cleaning equipment is best. There are several electric drain cleaning machines that RIDGID offers, including drums, water jetters, and the Auto-Clean™ sink machine.


Ridgid K-750 Drum Machine

Drum machines work with sink lines that range from 3/4 to 10 inches in diameter. They deliver water at high torque levels to propel obstructions through the line using cables or cutters, depending on the type of blockage you have. Ridgid’s drum machines deliver high RPM using powerful induction motors. They’re suitable for clearing hard and soft blockages such as tree roots, food build-up, grease, and sediment. Since the snakes have cables that can pinch, could you make sure to pick up a drain-cleaning mitt to protect your hands?

Water Jetters

Ranging from mid- to very high-PSI, water jetters from Ridgid come in electric and gas models. They work in sink lines up to 10 inches wide and use a flexible hose to propel through soft blockages, including grease, sludge, and soap. They also benefit from flushing the line, restoring full water flow. Water jetters work in the home and commercial applications, and Ridgid offers several models with high HP motors for fast performance.

Auto-Clean Sink Machine

The Auto-Clean Sink Machine is Ridgid’s patented technology. It’s a single drain unblock tool with a flexible hose and a MAXCORE™ cable that works in lines ranging in widths for working in areas with large or small pipes. The Auto-Clean Sink Machine blasts through obstacles in the sink and tub or shower drains. It’s useful for soft blockages such as hair, soap, and grease.

Other Drain Cleaning Tools

Ridgid SF-2500 Pipe Freezer

In addition to actual drain cleaning equipment, other tools combine with the equipment to effectively clear blockages quickly and seamlessly. These parts include pipe-freezing kits and threading tools. These components often come in handy if you’re looking to buy drain cleaning tools.

Pipe Freezing Kits

When you need to isolate an area of a pipe to perform repairs, a pipe freezing kit helps isolate a section. It’s a valuable tool when shutting off the water is not possible. It works by blocking off a section of the pipe, preventing the water from flowing through and inhibiting the work process.

Pipe Threading Tools

Pipe threading tools are handy when replacing a drain or section of pipe in the sewer. They help prepare new pipes for joining if a pipe replacement is necessary, such as if a blockage is too strong to clear, and include sealants, cutting oil, dies, and adapters.

Drains are pesky, but choosing the right drain cleaning tool can help clear obstacles and restore natural function. Check out our extensive collection of Ridgid drain-cleaning tools to find ideal equipment for your home or business.


  • Samantha Rogers

    December 1, 2016 at 4:41 am

    I have a LOT of long and thick hair and tend to clog up my drains often. You mentioned that the Auto-Clean Sink Machine is really useful to clear out soft blockages like hair. Is this something that is available to any consumer, or do you have to be licensed to purchase something like this?

  • Bernard Clyde

    February 6, 2017 at 1:14 pm

    I feel like I will be more careful about what I let go down my drains after reading this post! I think we easily overlook what goes down our drain since we are so used to them working well. You’ve provided a great list of different clogs and drains and how to help clear them up. Thank you!

  • Greg Holly

    April 6, 2017 at 6:52 am

    I really appreciate the insight here in this post and confident it’s going to be helpful to me and many others. I’m wondering if you or anyone else has additional sources for me to read further and to be able to dig a little deeper?

    • Acme Tools

      April 6, 2017 at 7:53 am

      Hi Greg, Thank you for your comment. If you are interested in learning more about the right drain cleaner you can always check out the items on our AcmeTools.com website. Another great place to go would be to the manufacturer’s websites. We would suggest Ridgid, Reed, and Milwaukee.

      Thank you,
      Acme Tools

  • Wet Coast Drainage Solutions

    May 1, 2017 at 1:36 am

    What a great enumeration of professional drain cleaning tools. Thank you! Some of the more powerful tools may need expert handling to avoid permanent damage on the drainage system.

  • Frank Delaware

    May 17, 2017 at 11:40 am

    The drains in my house have been having a lot of issues lately, and we were thinking about getting them fixed up. I really like that you say to make sure that they have the right equipment tools. It would be nice to know that you will be able to get the best help for your kitchen.

  • gloria durst

    October 30, 2017 at 6:04 pm

    I never knew that some floor drain clogs were so severe that they needed electric tools. It would seem that if the basic ones don’t work out well, the more advanced ones would do. My brother is trying to unclog his floor drain, so he’ll have to make sure he has the right tools.

    • Acme Tools

      October 31, 2017 at 8:03 am

      Hello Gloria, Thank you for your comment. If in doubt about the cause of a drain clog please consult a licensed plumber before attempting to clear the clog. Some common off the shelf drain solutions can do more harm than good to the plumbers tools.

      Thank you,
      Acme Tools

  • Jack Titchener

    November 9, 2017 at 6:36 pm

    When can I know if I need to use a drum or a water jetter for the tough sludge? I’ve noticed that the water in the tub isn’t draining and I’m not exactly sure what to do about it besides dumping some drain cleaner into it. I’ll have to consider your tips so I can get all of that water out.

    • Acme Tools

      November 10, 2017 at 2:19 pm

      Hello, Thank you for your comment. If a slow drain in the tub is your issue it is most likely a hair clog and a drum or sink machine would be best but if there is any doubt which tool to use please consult a professional for assistance.

      Thank you,
      Acme Tools.

  • John Smith

    December 19, 2017 at 1:55 am

    This is the first time I read your full post. Awesome writing about benefits drain cleaning. It’s really helpful. A simple and easy way of drain cleaning…. Thanks for the information…i will try it in future…

  • Callum Palmer

    January 30, 2018 at 11:49 pm

    Wow, I didn’t realize that there were so many things to look at when choosing a drain cleaning tool. I had always been under the impression that a snake or a coat hanger would work. However, I imagine that, if you can’t get a hold of some of these professional tools, then calling in a plumber that has them would work just as well.

  • Tiffany Locke

    February 7, 2018 at 8:46 pm

    Thanks for explaining the different drain cleaning tools and their benefits, such as how water jetters use a flexible hose to propel through soft blockages, such as grease and sludge. This would be a great way to ensure you’re able to get everywhere in the drain to clean it. When choosing a method, you’d probably want to consider how your system works and talk to a professional about the different options and your situation in order to figure out which one will work best.

  • Tracie

    February 16, 2018 at 1:51 am

    Excellent read, I just passed this onto a colleague who was doing a little research on that. And he actually bought me lunch since I found it for him smile Therefore let me rephrase that: Thanks for lunch!

  • Hilton Plumbing 24/7

    April 4, 2018 at 11:05 pm

    I really appreciate the insight here in this post and confident it’s going to be helpful to a lot of people. Thank you for having this article, it will absolutely be a help to everyone. Great blog and keep on blogging!

  • West End Plumbing

    April 4, 2018 at 11:40 pm

    Awesome article about benefits drain cleaning. I am very glad to found this kind of wonderful blog. Thanks for sharing this information.

  • Ridley Fitzgerald

    June 4, 2018 at 4:00 pm

    Thanks for the drain cleaning tips. We’ve had some clogged drains for a while, and nothing we’re doing is working. I think we’ll have to try hiring a professional, to be honest, because the tools you’ve mentioned, like the augers, aren’t working.

  • Penelope Smith

    August 9, 2018 at 6:49 pm

    I just bought an older home and I am worried about the pipes. It is good to know that I can get electric drain cleaning tools to help me clean out some blocks I find. But I would be still scared of messing up my system. It seems like it would be best for me to hire a professional plumber to check and clean my pipes.

  • Judson Elmes

    December 1, 2018 at 3:33 am

    Hey! Do you use Twitter? I’d like to follow you if that would be ok. I’m absolutely enjoying your blog and look forward to new posts.

  • Milton Stapelton

    December 2, 2018 at 9:38 am

    Jones suggested pouring very hot water down the drain at least once a week. This can help prevent clog-causing build-up on the interior surface of pipes. Or, pour one cup of vinegar down the drain and let it sit for 30 minutes. Rinse with two quarts of very hot water.

  • Silas Knight

    January 16, 2019 at 6:04 pm

    Thanks for the rundown of what tool to use for what clog. We’ve had a clogged bathroom sink for days, so this is good to know. Still, I don’t really want to try and do it myself, in case it gets worse, so I’ll hire a professional.

  • glani kalikutty

    September 9, 2019 at 12:52 pm

    Hey guys I have been having this problem with my sink in the basement. It gets clogged almost on a weekly basis. The p-trap doesn’t look like anything i have seen before.

    A friend of mine recommended sani sticks. What are your opinion on this? Has anyone used it? Still wondering if I should purchase this.


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