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More Drain Cleaning Hazards: Rotating Drain Cable


Cable entanglement is probably the only major sewer and drain cleaning hazard that cannot be completely engineered out of a power drain snake. The following information is a supplement to an excellent blog post on this topic and provides a bit more detail.



Three Foot Rule

It’s worth restating that the power snake operator must locate the drain cleaning machine no more than three feet away from the drain opening. If this is not done, the cable under torque can form a dangerous loop that can easily sever a finger, tear tendons, or even break a wrist or arm.


All Spartan Tool power feed machines come with a cable safety guide as standard equipment. This hard but flexible tube protects the operator from cable entanglement when used to bridge the distance between the drain opening and the machine.9-


If it isn’t possible to locate the cable machine close to the drain opening, a piece of plastic pipe 1-1/2 inches in diameter, should be placed between the machine and the opening of the pipe to be cleaned. The plastic pipe will keep the cable from looping and causing injury.


Spartan’s larger cable machines include a cable safety guide and it is available for purchase on the website.



Cable Helixes and Pinch Spaces

When a cable rotates and torque builds and releases, the cable expands and contracts. The cable helixes, or loops, also open and close in tandem with the torque pressure. This opening and closing action of the cable helixes creates a pinch space that creates a hazard for the operator. Cloth gloves, long hair, or loose clothing can easily get caught in this pinch space, resulting in potential injury.


Operators who wear improper clothing such as lightweight cloth gloves have lost fingers and even experienced torn tendons and broken wrists and arms. Long hair will be instantly ripped from the scalp in chunks. The best defense against pinch space hazards is to wear heavy duty sewer cleaning gloves, avoid loose fitting clothing, and tie up long hair.


It is also worth restating the need to wear rubber boots with metatarsal guards and safety goggles to protect against flying debris, falling objects and wastewater. We stress the need to wear gloves -- unprotected skin can get cut and the risk of infection and disease is ever-present.



Cable Shooting Out of the Drum

Operating the cable machine in “reverse”, which means the drum is rotating counter-clockwise, forces the cable to twist in the opposite direction from which it is wound. When enough torque is developed, the cable will release the tension. If there is sufficient space inside the drum, the cable may then completely flip around and exit the drum instantly and possibly cause injury or property damage. A cable safety guide will help prevent injury in this circumstance, but the best defense is to NEVER run your machine in reverse unless the cable is caught and cannot be freed.



Cable Rotating Before Attachment is Placed in Pipe

Before a cable is rotated, the attachment needs to be placed in the drain pipe. This lowers the risk of injury from the attachment. While this may seem like straightforward common sense (and it is), the key to successful sewer and drain cleaning includes the proper use of all equipment and in particular, the drain cable itself.


For more on this important safety  issue, please see our blog post!


<< Back: Drain Cleaning Machine Safety 
| Back to Start: Cable Machine Resources Intro  >>