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.
I already do this I have a fitting that allows me to plug the drain and I run my air compressor to blow out the drain . I don’t think a cordless model would do anything for me that I can’t do now
Are you a professional plumber? I’m not, but I could see charging a flat fee, and having this tool speeding up the jobs.
Milwaukee is making a bunch of *very* niche tools for very specific jobs. The’ll sell a million 12v and 18v drills, but only a hundred thousand of these (and all the other oddball tools).
They may not make money on this one, but I could see a pro plumber wanting this enough to invest in the *rest* of the M12 system as well.
No just a home owner here . My little bro is a plumber . He’s heavily invested into the m18 line . For me . The compressor is quite small . I have power at home . Just got a rubber stopper and drilled a hole for The air gun .
Pretty much like a Kinetic Water Ram we have in a corner of our shop
collecting dust. It rarely worked and usually made matters worse by
compacting the clog even more.
Yeah, I learned a while ago that the best way to use a plunger is not to compress things further but to “lift” the clog back toward the plunger, loosening things so they’ll go down.
Too much pressure in a toilet can cause worse problems…
Been unclogging drains for years that way (not as a plumber, though), and have yet to run into one that didn’t get fixed by exactly what you said (includes sinks, basement drains, bath tubs; not just toilets).
I’ve had a plunger with different ‘bulbs’ or w/e you want to call them since college. You can attach several different sized rubber things on the handle for different drains. Can’t even remember where I bought it, but at some point I lived in an apartment that shared a separated ‘bathroom complex’ with a few girls. After they got in trouble with the landlord, they started knocking on our door. Took a few tries, but once we figured out that getting the right seal around a tub/shower drain and gently pushing down…then pulling up as hard as possible and/or oscillating that way a few times…would bring about 20 pounds of their hair out with it…just pushing down really hard would either make it worse, pop the seal around the drain and spray gross water everywhere, or both.
Laugh all you want, but getting home from class/work with a case of beer laying by the door meant ‘our drain is clogged again’…and it worked every time. Used the same procedure for every clog i’ve come across as a home owner, and it has worked too. Just don’t know if the plunger thing i still have is easy to find anymore.
Koko the Talking Ape
Good observations. A sudden, rapid, largish volume SUCTION might do better than pressure in dislodging clogs. I wonder if it might pose less risk to fittings and joints too.
And I wonder if a machine that provided such a pulse of suction might be better than this machine. You would need a vacuum chamber, a vacuum pump to drive out some of the air, and a big, fast valve to expose that partial vacuum to the pipe. If there is flex hose, it might need to be specially constructed to withstand sudden vacuum. A filter to protect the pump from whatever gunk comes up the hose. The chamber might not need to be big; a plunger uses about the same principle, and it moves only a dozen cubic inches or so.
I think Milwaukee owes me about $14K for that idea.
We had the one from General – hand operated pump. The only place some of the guys liked it was on some floor drains and shower drains. It was never a multi-purpose tool – but we had a variety of drain cleaners at out disposal. When we were called out to restaurants – we’d usually roll out a hot-water. For homes a simple snake, force cup or closet auger was more often than not all that was needed.
I was always amazed at how many homeowners could not figure out how to clear even the simplest of clogs. I never complained about this – as it kept us employed.
I have a few manual ones. A small one for sinks and a big one for the toilet. I think they’re called plungers. All kidding aside, this tool probably does the same thing but with greater force and more capacity, but I guess I would have to see it in the field to see whether it is valuable or not. I have burst apart compression fitting with my sink plunger before.
Koko the Talking Ape
Two comments: I think some bathroom faucets would block the tool (which is big, and has to be positioned right over the drain.) Oh, but there’s a 45 deg nozzle (according to the second vid.) Cool.
And I wonder if works better with a total clog than a partial clog. I imagine a partial clog might let the air whistle by and not moving. Any word from M about that?
Good question. I think it would still be effective, depending on the percentage of the blockage.
A plunger is still effective in clearing some some partial clogs, and so similar tendencies might apply.
you could probably make a sweet potato gun with this
Haha my thoughts exactly. Devious minds think alike…
I’ve used the out fitting on a shopvac to do basically this same thing to AC drain lines and it works really well, because they are usually clogged with fine material. In the case of a drain with hair etc i’d be worried about blowing it up.
What about tree roots possibly in drain?
What about tree roots? I don’t think any kind of drain-clearing snake is going to help with that.
Im in my 4th year of plumbing and saw this product and instantly showed to our service plumber. His words, it would prob fix the symptom, not the root problem.
There is not enough scouring velocity especially downstream past trap arms. We see this sending blockage to another location and never truly extracting the problem. If youve ever cleaning out a tub strainer and pulled the 5lbs rat out….yeah, air imo is not effective enough to send a reliable bill to a customer.
Plumbing, service plumbing can be as clean as you are experienced. Sorry to say, theres no magic tool to confidently fix the problem.
Grease blockages are the worst, this tool will only burst a tiny hole through, assuming its on a trap arm and not downstream where atmosphere would nullify tools effectiveness.
I’d like to know what pressure this thing puts out – but I’m guessing it’s in the 20-40 psi range and pulses.
which as mentioned I can do with a compressor at home – so I don’t need one but I’m sure some plumbers love the idea.
best Milwaukee new tool I’ve seen but haven’t bought was their M18 sump pump. That’s useful to me.
I just see a portable compressor
As others have said, if I can’t clear it with a plunger, it requires a snake.
Wet/dry vac. Seal overflow with a bit of duct tape and it pulls clogs out of traps 75% of the time with zero disassembly (although pulling air from drain line can stink). Once the clog is further down the line, past other branches or vents, snake is the best.
A shop vac can work great but may need to be cleaned after. A tenant dumped some stew in a toilet and flushed. Several others dumped and flushed including the tenant in the next apartment. Then somebody took a bath and let the water out. All the drains were connected so the bathwater forced some stew, and other stuff, up into the tub next door. I bailed most of the water from the relatively clean tub and then used a shop vac on both tubs and toilets. Once the water was down enough I pulled the toilet and tried a snake. The shop vac was able to remove the rest of the water, stew, etc between the toilet flange and main stack. A plunger did nothing as there was too many places for the force to go before it reached the clog. The shop vac got a good hosing down after that job.
Milwaukee can build this but can’t come up with a 18v air compressor? ?
lol at the video guy adjusting his clogging setup.
They should have done a real world demo, like bring a guy with fat intestines to shit into a toilet, then unclog that
Give this man a real beer.
If you suspect a grease clog, a mixture of very hot water and vinegar can also help melt and remove the grease that’s blocking the pipes. Allow it to work for a few minutes then use a plunger to help move the clog along. You may have to repeat this more than once.
This trick NEVER works for us at our Bed and Breakfast. We bought this tool because grease clogs happen on a bi-annually basis. I just used it last week and this week the clog is way worse. I am assumming it only partially helped making things worse.