I don’t envy plumbers. From my limited experience with unclogging drains, I know it’s something I wouldn’t want to do for a living.
Say you have a clogged sink drain. You need to remove the trap — which is a mess in itself — and fish a dirty, rusty cable into the drain to try to reach the clog. Once you’ve broken up the clog, you still have to deal with a slimy cable and more than likely a mess on the floor.
Now imagine avoiding all that hassle. Milwaukee’s new M12 AirSnake flushes clogs by shooting a burst of high pressure air into the drain. It’s designed to be used for grease clogs, slow drains, and other “non-retrieval” clogs. They claim it can can clear clogs in 3″ pipe up to 35 feet away, even past the vent stack.
Its operation is simple. You charge the AirSnake to the pressure you want, seal the tip of the tool against the drain, and pull the trigger. Since compression fittings used in many traps can be fragile, the AirSnake can be set to deliver a charge of air from 0 to 50 PSI. The ideal way to use the tool is to start at the lowest pressure and work upward so you use the minimum amount of pressure to remove the clog.
This video shows the presenter stepping up the pressure on the AirSnake to remove the most elusive of all clogs: a rubber stopper pounded into the end of a pipe.
Milwaukee will also have a variety of attachments for the AirSnake to get air tight seals on various types and sizes of drains. Here you can see several of the attachments, like the 45° attachment which lets you get at drains in tight places, such as sinks where you can’t move the faucet. Among the other accessories that will be available are a 4″ pipe attachment, a toilet attachment, and an extension tube.
Milwaukee hasn’t released whether this will be available as a bare tool or a kit with charger and M12 batteries, and they haven’t released pricing details yet either.
Available: Nov 2017
In the above video, the presenter shows how you’d clear a grease clog with both the AirSnake and the Milwaukee drain snake.
Thank you to David Frane for contributing photos to this post.
Without having to disassemble traps and clean up the mess afterward, the AirSnake has the potential to make clearing some drain clogs a much faster, cleaner process. As it’s range is limited to 35′ in 3″ line, it’s not going to replace the auger and cable. And that distance is most likely greatly reduced in 4″ or larger lines. There’s also going to be times when it doesn’t work and you’ll have to drag out the traditional snake anyway.
So the AirSnake isn’t going to work in all cases. But imagine cutting down the time it takes to service a clogged drain from 15 minutes or more, down to a couple of minutes; it’s going to pay for itself pretty quickly.
Milwaukee promises a lot with the AirSnake. Let’s hope that the benefits outweigh the potential risk of blowing pipes apart inside of the wall and adding water damage on top of a clogged drain.