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Lots of folks prefer familiarity to change. Be it phones or fashions, computers or cars, we tend to grow content with a certain level of comfort – and settle into a groove.
But while this might be excusable in our personal lives, it can prove a serious professional drawback, especially with emerging plumbing and drain-cleaning technologies.
For example, just take a look at what a difference the past 25 years has made.
In the mid- to late-1990s – and despite the ready availability of electric snake-style cable machines – you could still find plumbers and drain cleaners using old-fashioned flat rods as battering rams to open clogged drains.
But since then, we witnessed the popularity and proliferation of, for instance, sewer inspection camera systems and high-pressure water jets – two technologies that categorically revolutionized ways we inspect and clean drains.
Even on machines equipped with conventional drain cleaning snakes, we’ve seen technically innovative developments in, say, cutter technologies.
These and other developments markedly improved productivity and profitability – enhancing job performance and cementing commercial success for savvy professionals who embraced them.
And more change is on the way!
The next big thing
Plumbers engaged in pipe relining helped point the way to the drain-cleaning industry’s most significant, recent advance: high speed, flexible-shaft technology.
Flexible-shaft machines – also called “flex-shaft” – employ a swiftly rotating rod or wire coil, much like a speedometer cable, inside a flexible hollow tube or hose.
A high-speed motor connects to the rod’s back end. And that drives a cutting device out front to prep sewer lines.
When outfitted with the correct cutting tool and properly used, the combination perfectly prepares pipe insides to accept material used in the relining procedure.
Flexible-shaft machines spin at speeds noticeably higher than those of conventional cable-type drain cleaners.
And users quickly discovered that the cutting device, often carbide-tipped chains rotating at speeds of 2,000 RPM or greater, not only milled pipe insides, but removed tree roots, as well.
For this reason, flex-shaft machines also became popular with plumbers and drain cleaners whose only goal was to cut and remove root incursions.
Upsides appear appealing
The discovery exposed both the advantages and disadvantages of flex-shaft machines for drain cleaning.
Because the equipment’s outside tube or hose doesn’t rotate, the inside spinning rod remains isolated from operator fingers, thus, enhancing workplace safety.
And because the outside protective sheath doesn’t spin, it also permits simultaneous use of video inspection equipment. That gave contractors real time views of drain-cleaning progress – providing pinpoint control of the cutting process, and saving time and money.
Finally, users further found that they could easily wipe cable clean during rod retraction, minimizing jobsite mess.
Downsides reveal key constraints
In the real world, however, plumbing and drain-cleaning pros often encounter totally clogged pipes, where absolutely nothing is moving.
And while flexible-shaft technology effectively scrubbed blockage problems from pipe walls, it proved incapable of clearing such solid stoppages.
But users luckily discovered that if a conventional cable drain cleaner first poked a hole in the obstruction, flex-shaft machines proved great at cleaning up the mess – and finishing the job.
Trouble is, with drain cleaning now requiring two distinct steps – and two different machines – flexible-shaft technology no longer offered a single, “one-stop” remedy.
Next generation solution
Drain-cleaning professionals ignore new technology at their peril. The same dictum holds true for drain-cleaning equipment manufacturers.
That’s why General Pipe Cleaners carefully analyzed the competitive setting for flexible-shaft drain cleaning technology.
We methodically assessed current designs, operational issues, technical pitfalls, and potential innovations. And we thoroughly addressed – and solved – critical customer concerns. These included:
The result is what professionals call the “next-generation game changer” in flexible-shaft drain cleaning equipment – General’s new Flexi-Rooter system.
Plumbing and drain-cleaning professionals everywhere repeatedly expressed deep disappointment in the inability of current flex-shaft machines to punch through toughest clogs.
As a result Flexi-Rooter designers engineered an innovative, two-part cleaning array with unique ClogChopper cutters out front – and stainless steel or carbide-tipped chain cutters behind.
Our popular ClogChopper cutter rips through tough stoppages with six self-sharpening blades that dig into encrusted debris and root masses. And the ClogChopper portion of Flexi-Rooter’s pioneering cleaning combo likewise minces those tough obstructions.
Additionally, ClogChopper’s unique, spherical shape smoothly guides the flexible shaft around pipe twists and turns. And when it hits the stoppage, it packs power to cut and bore through the toughest clogs.
If the ClogChopper serves as the spear tip of Flexi-Rooter’s attack on clogs, General’s attached chain cutters conduct mop-up operations – shredding remaining obstructions and scouring pipe walls clean.
Flexi-Rooter chain cutters are available in a range of types and sizes. And they’re field-swappable for different pipe diameters and job requirements.
The whole, two-part array easily clears 2- to 4-inch lines – and traverses tight bends and traps. Yet it’s strong enough to destroy roots 75 feet away.
Listening to pros
But any cutter is only as good as the flexible shaft powering it.
Spinning at 2,000 rpm or more, the unique cleaning array of ClogChopper and chain cutters powers through tough clogs at the business end of our tough, flexible rod.
General’s design boasts a stronger, stiffer flexible shaft and outer sheath than competitive units offer, giving it the straight-line cutting power to open solidly blocked drains. And should trouble occur, Flexi-Rooter rod is field-repairable.
With safe, dependable, air-activated foot-pedal control of the integral electric motor, Flexi-Rooter operators can keep two hands free to control both cleaning and, when required, sewer camera push rod. And the tough, protective sheath isolates spinning rod from user fingers.
All this also makes Flexi-Rooter extremely versatile.
In fact, General’s rugged, reliable machine is tough enough to open a stubbornly clogged drain – and, by removing the ClogChopper portion of the cleaning array, to serve as a pipe prep and milling machine.
Its built-in safety slip clutch prevents damage to the flex-shaft rod, giving operators the confidence to take advantage of Flexi-Rooter’s high RPM and torque – without fear of personal injury or equipment damage.
Compact, maneuverable package
Flexi-Rooter rides on a rugged steel frame with 10-inch wheels and folding handle, making it easier to transport and position than any other machine in its class.
The machine comes complete with 50 feet of 5/16-inch flexible shaft, suitable for cleaning and milling most 2- to 4-inch pipes. An optional 25-foot extension is available, too – increasing reach to 75 feet.
General also offers an assortment of cutting chains that easily attach to the end of the rod. So whether operators work in PVC or cast-iron lines, they can select among stainless steel double or triple chain cutters – or heavy-duty carbide tipped chain cutters.
In field trials, Flexi-Rooter emerged as the clear favorite for contractors seeking the best way to leverage flexible-shaft technology for drain cleaning – in the real world.
That’s why professionals called it a “Game Changer”!
Dave Dunbar is the national sales manager for General Pipe Cleaners
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