The Lightweight Drain Invader Is a Heavy Hitter

For clearing drainline clogs, this easy-to-carry water jetter punches above its weight

The Lightweight Drain Invader Is a Heavy Hitter

 Technician Francisco Escoto of 1-Hour Drain in San Jose, California, uses a Drain Invader from Jetters Northwest to clean out a 1 1/2-inch-diameter bathroom sink drainline.

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When Ben Thomas bought a lightweight Drain Invader water jetter from Jetters Northwest about a year ago, the general manager of 1-Hour Drain in San Jose, California, figured he’d buy more if it worked as advertised.

It did — and Thomas now plans to eventually put a Drain Invader in each of the company’s 12 service vehicles, a mix of Nissan NV 2500s and Ford and Chevrolet vans.

“Initially, I thought it would work really well for the kind of work we do, which is primarily unclogging smaller drainlines in homes and apartment complexes,” Thomas says. Owner Robert Gallaher established the company in 2011; it employs 22 people, including 16 technicians.

“Having a portable jetter that you can hand-carry into someone’s apartment or house has been really a game-changer for our guys,” Thomas says. “It’s so easy to bring it in and out of places.”

Moreover, the 18-pound unit (28 pounds when used with the two-wheeled detachable cart that comes with it) is small enough to hang on the wall of a service vehicle. That way it doesn’t occupy valuable floor space in already cramped cargo areas. (An optional wall-mount unit is also available.)

While the Drain Invader may be light, it doesn’t lack power. Thomas says he recently encountered a bad stoppage in a 2-inch-diameter kitchen drainline in an apartment complex. The clog was between a clean-out and a mainline and snaking it wasn’t getting the job done.

“We couldn’t get through the clog with our snake, so we put the jetter in there with a ‘knucklehead’ nozzle,” he says. “And in about 15 minutes or less, we cleared the clog, which was mostly grease and food debris.”

Better efficiency

It’s not that Thomas doesn’t have other jetters and drain machines at his disposal. 1-Hour Drain has invested in two trailer jetters from Jetters Northwest, as well as a Brute cart jetter, and drum cable machines built by RIDGID and Milwaukee Tool.

But accessibility is frequently an issue with large machines. A trailer jetter doesn’t always work if an apartment is, say, 500 feet away from the nearest parking lot. And that’s where the Drain Invader’s portability pays big dividends, Thomas says.

“About 70% of the stoppages we run across are drain clogs in multifamily units. As a result, we have a lot of back-to-back jobs because the units are stacked on top of each other and more than one is affected by the clog.

“The Drain Invaders allow us to get into those units quickly and efficiently, without the setup time required to run our trailer jetters. We can run a 3/16-inch-diameter hose through the line that’s very flexible and easy to get into the pipe.

“In addition, a jetter will clear a clog, as opposed to just punching a hole in it,” he adds. “Even if we use cable machines to clear a stoppage, we’ll also jet it, just to be sure.”

Amped up

The electric-powered Drain Invader is designed to clear indoor drains up to 3 inches in diameter. It comes with a 25-foot power cord with a two-prong plug and can run off a standard, 15-amp, 110-volt electrical outlet.

The machine produces pressure of 2,050 psi at 1.4 gpm and comes with three nozzles — one for flushing, one for penetrating clogs, and a knucklehead trap nozzle to better navigate P-traps and other tight bends.

Hose options include a 1/8-inch-diameter, 50-foot-long poly hose from Piranha Hose Products or a 3/16-inch-diameter, braided stainless steel hose available in 25-, 50-, 75- or 100-foot lengths.

The Drain Invader also features an auto-stop and auto-start function aimed at enhancing motor longevity because it only runs during actual jetting. “That’s a really nice feature,” Thomas says.

The machine is also very easy to operate. “We show our guys once how to use it and they’re good to go. If you can operate a pressure washer with a wand on it, you can easily operate this machine.”

Revenue generator

So how does the Drain Invader help Thomas increase revenue? Better productivity. Taking less time to unclog lines means technicians can clean more lines per week, which boosts revenue and profitability, Thomas says.

Furthermore, profit-killing callbacks diminish significantly when employees use a jetter. Thomas says he even offers a 30-day warranty for lines the company jets (except under extenuating circumstances).

“Plus, if we provide faster and better service, customers will give us word-of-mouth referrals or call us back the next time they need service. And if we throw in a courtesy jetting after we use a cable machine, it makes customers feel good.”

At a base price of $795, Thomas says the Drain Invader provides a great return on investment. It also fits in well with his business philosophy about continually investing in new technology — the more arrows in the quiver to handle various situations, the better.

“We try to stay on top of the best products out there that can help our guys be as efficient as possible and not break their backs,” he says. “At this price point, why wouldn’t I have one on each truck?

“I highly recommend this machine. For the price, it’s a mistake to not have one of these in your van.” 


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