Regular Maintenance Extends the Life of Built-to-Last Drain Cleaner

With good maintenance practices, Speedrooter drain machines keep on performing for Modern Plumbing

Regular Maintenance Extends the Life of Built-to-Last Drain Cleaner

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When Mike Jackson established Modern Plumbing in Avon, Indiana, in 2004, he decided that drain cleaning would be an essential part of his plan to grow the business. So he invested roughly $1,000 each on two Speedrooter 91 cable drain machines, built by General Pipe Cleaners.

The business grew as he expected; the company now has six employees, runs five service vehicles and serves the Indianapolis metro area. But what he didn’t expect was that the two Speedrooters would still be running today, 16 years after he bought them. And with the original cables still intact, no less. (One machine holds 100 feet of 5/8-inch-diameter cable, and the other carries 100 feet of 3/4-inch-diameter cable.)

“Those machines provided a good 30% to 40% of my revenue when I first started out,” says Jackson, whose company now does trenchless pipe rehab work in addition to residential and commercial drain cleaning and service and repair plumbing. “They gave me a good foothold in my market.

“I needed to maximize my ability to make money and minimize my expenses, which is why I bought these two machines. I’ve probably cleaned more than 50 miles of drains between those two machines. And I can still get parts for them, too.

“I don’t have the truck I originally started out with, but I still have these two Speedrooters.”

Aside from their performance, Jackson opted for the Speedrooters because their compact size makes them easier to load and unload from service vehicles, not to mention transporting them up and down stairs and maneuvering in tight quarters.

“I worked by myself for the first six years, so I had to have machines that were easy to move around,” he says.

Maintenance matters

Jackson’s experience with the Speedrooters (the newest iteration of the machines now is called the Speedrooter 92) underscores two points: The benefits of regular maintenance and the value of buying durable machines that provide excellent returns on investment.

To ensure cable longevity, Jackson faithfully drains the cable drum after every job by partially loading the machine into a service vehicle, letting the lone “loading wheel” (one of three wheels on the attached dolly) rest on the truck bed. Then he tilts the unit down to about a 45-degree angle so water can drain from a weep hole.

“Then I let it fully dry overnight,” he says. “The next morning, I spray a little Snake-Oil onto the cable and spin the drum for a minute or two.” (Also made by General Pipe Cleaners, Snake-Oil lubricates while applying a rust-resistant coating.)

“As long as the cables stay dry and are well lubricated, they should last a long time.”

The secret to equipment longevity “all comes back to the user,” he says. “If you take care of things, they’ll take care of you.”

Primo investments

Buying the machines, designed to clean lines from 3 to 10 inches in diameter, was a great investment for Jackson because many area plumbers weren’t interested in drain cleaning. As such, they often hired him to do drain work, primarily on 3-, 4- and 6-inch-diameter commercial and residential lateral lines, he says.

Since then, Jackson has invested in more General Pipe Cleaners equipment, including a JM-2900 and a JM-3080 portable water jetter (3,000 psi at 4 gpm and 3,000 psi at 8 gpm, respectively); Gen-Eye Micro-Scope2 pipeline inspection camera; two Mini-Rooter Pros; and one Mini-Rooter XP.

The company also owns a RIDGID SeeSnake camera; Traveler 2.0 camera system made by Spartan Tool; pipe milling and drain cleaning machines built by Picote Solutions; and a 30-amp Honda generator for jobs where electric power isn’t readily available to run the unit’s 1/2 hp motor.

Modern Plumbing’s service vehicles include a Ford Connect van, two Chevrolet cutaway vans (an E-250 and E-350) with 15-foot box bodies made by Unicell Body Co. and two Dodge Ram pickup trucks.

Versatile revenue generators

Over the years, the Speedrooters have more than proved their versatility. If Jackson encounters drain clogs more than 100 feet out, for instance, he runs the 5/8-inch cable all the way out, then “chases it” with the 3/4-inch cable.

“I can get out to 120 to 140 feet OK,” he says. “But more than that and the machine doesn’t like it as much. It’s hard for a motor that size to run cable when it’s that far out.”

Jackson says he’d highly recommend the Speedrooter for any plumber or drain cleaner who’s in the same position he was 16 years ago — someone who needs to “make money fast without a large investment,” as he puts it.

Does Jackson feel like he got his money’s worth out of the two machines? “Maybe if I get a few more years out of them,” he quips.

“I’m just kidding — they’ve paid for themselves a million times over. I don’t think they’ll ever die.” 


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