Eliminating iron ochre bacteria clogs is usually a two-step process.
The first step is to scrub the pipe walls and flush away the thick iron ochre residue that’s inside the drain line, foundation drain (“drain tile”), sump pump line or fresh water supply line. A sewer jetter can help you scrub away sticky iron ochre and flush out the residue for more thorough cleaning of plastic and cast iron pipes from 1-1/2″ to 4″ ID.
A Needle Nose™ drain cleaner is a sewer jetter with a tougher, braided steel jacket and a special compact nozzle tip that allows it to pass through elbows and transitions in more sizes and types of drains. If the iron ochre residue has dried and solidified, use a sewer jetter with a nozzle that has a forward jet to help penetrate the hardened material.
You should try a sewer jetter only if you can access an alternate drain opening in case the sewer jetter can’t pass through any short radius elbows in the first drain opening that you try.
Important: basement waterproofing drain tiles that are non-cylindrical, sold as WaterGuard, SealOnce and other brands, usually have rectangular corners that block sewer jetters and other cleaning tools. If you have a clogged drain tile that does not have a round cross-section, contact the installer for help to service or replace the drain tile.
You can see the differences between a mechanical drain auger and a sewer jetter as they both take on a sticky clog in this 2 minute video:
To Clean the Pipe with a Sewer Jetter:
- Put on fluid resistant work gloves and eye protection. If you believe the pipe might contain chlorine shock or other agents, use extra care to avoid contacting your skin with the liquid or breathing mist from the drain.
- Make sure the work area is well ventilated. And, if you’re using a gas-powered pressure washer, only operate it outdoors.
- Connect the drain cleaner to your pressure washer trigger gun. Then, start your pressure washer and guide the nozzle about a foot into the pipe opening before you squeeze the trigger to start the flow of water.
- Feed the drain cleaner into the pipe opening as you squeeze the trigger. Every few feet you should pull back about halfway and then continue moving forward to thoroughly scrub away the iron ochre residue.
- After you have finished cleaning the pipe, pull the drain cleaner out. Use care to release the trigger to stop the flow of water before the nozzle reaches the pipe opening.
- Once you thoroughly clean the pipe, it’s usually necessary to treat the source of iron ochre bacteria to prevent the clog from coming back every few months. Chlorine shock and less corrosive.
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