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Water Jetter vs Plumbers Eels

When you need to clear blocked sewers, there are typically two approaches. You could either use a drain jetter or an electric eel. So which one is the best choice to get the job done? 

Here, we compare the plumbing jetter and drain snake (or plumber’s eel). It’s worth mentioning that in Australia, a lot of plumbers continue to use the electric eel, a method that was first used in 1933. The electric eel relies on a motor that spins a steel cable inside the pipes. A cutting head is attached to remove everything it comes in contact with. 

On the other hand, the water sewer jetter is a more recent technology that uses high-pressure water. 

Which one will get the job done?


When it comes to clearing blocked sewers, both technologies can achieve the desired effects. Therefore, our first comparison will focus on how long they take to do the job. Ultimately, blocked drains are no walk in the park. So, the last thing you want is for the process to last any longer than necessary. 

The plumber’s eel is not a fast worker. Small blockages can disappear under an hour. However, for badly blocked sewers, you can count several hours to clear the pipe. On average, nasty blockages can take up to 8 hours with a drain snake. 

Using a high-pressure drain jetter is a lot faster. It’s worth noting that the water is pumped at approximately 5000 psi. For comparison, that’s enough pressure to cut through solid wood obstacles. Therefore, you can expect to clear a clogged up drain within 30 to 45 minutes. 


Admittedly, you’ll get the job done regardless of which method you use. However, that doesn’t mean they are equally effective. 

For the electric eel, the longer the cable gets, the more difficult it is to control. The further away the cable gets from the drain opening, the more uncontrollable and potentially dangerous it becomes. After 20 metres, the electric cable is no longer manageable. Additionally, the plumber’s eel is more likely to leave debris behind as it doesn’t provide a multi-directional clearage. Clients can expect their pipe to get blocked again if the trash remains stuck on the line. 

On the other hand, the plumbing jetter flushes off grime, grease, and obstacles with the same accuracy and control, whether it is close to the entrance or 50 metres down the line. Because the water jetter has a multi-outlet head that can clear obstacles in all directions, the blockage is thoroughly eliminated.


The longer plumbers work on blocked sewers; the more expensive the bill will get in terms of hours of labour. Needless to say, your clients want to save money and time. 

As mentioned, the electric eel can be a slow process, which therefore will increase costs. Additionally, breakage and damage can occur when you need to gain access through tight spaces, such as a customer’s bathroom or laundry. 

Comparatively, the plumbing jetter allows not only smooth access in the tighten spaces, but it is also quicker and more effective. Given the choice, customers would much prefer to pay for 30 minutes of labour rather than 8 hours! 

Our Water Jetter vs Plumber’s Eel Summary

The drain jetter wins on all accounts, being: 

  • Quicker
  • More effective
  • Budget-friendlier

In situations where time is of the essence to clear drain blockage and keep your customers safe and satisfied, we favour the water jetter. Still unsure? Reach out to an expert at Melbourne Jetter Centre to discuss what’s best for you.


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