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Pipe Descaling: Everything You Need to Know

After prolonged usage, drain pipes typically accumulate waste. The phenomenon could impair the integrity of the drain pipes. Unless this is detected and addressed quickly, it could deteriorate into a major blockage in the pipes. Essentially, what happens is that debris and wastewater form a hardened coating known as scale over time. This is deposited on the walls of the drain pipes. When this occurs, it obstructs the smooth flow of water and waste in your plumbing system.


Pipe cleaning methods like snaking and hydro-jetting are often not sufficient to completely remove these scales, and that’s where another technique, known as “Pipe Descaling”, comes in. But you may never know whether you need pipe descaling or hydro-jetting to free up your drain pipes. As always, we recommend you contact a sewer and drain specialist to inspect your plumbing system, so they ascertain the cause of the problem and advise you accordingly.

Table of Content

What Is Pipe Descaling?

Hydro Jetting

Hydro jetting is a modern and very effective technique used to clear slow-moving drains and clogged sewage lines.  Many sewer and drain specialists turn to hydro jetting mainly because it is highly effective in clearing sewage blockages. It is highly effective for both commercial and residential buildings. Hydro jetting uses a high-pressure, powerful diesel engine that shoots a stream of water at very high pressure (usually up to 4000 psi) to remove hard and stubborn blockages.


Essentially, the stream of high-pressure water is the significant difference between hydro jetting and other sewage clearing techniques. To make the process even more effective, our sewer and drain specialists at NW Sewer & Drain will typically use a specialized sewer inspection camera that is pushed down the pipe to provide a view of the inside of your sewer line.  This allows our technicians to see inside your pipes and identify problematic areas and effectively target areas that need to be hydro-jetted.  For example, we can use the camera to position the hydro jetter tip directly at the areas that have roots or other problems.  The camera allows our technicians to place the tip of the high pressure stream of water directly at the areas of the pipe that need to be hydro-jetted.  

Who Needs Hydro Jetting?

If you have a seriously problematic sewer system where clogs keep recurring, you should consult with a sewer and drain specialist who would evaluate and determine if hydro jetting is the right option. Stubborn clogs and blockages that refuse to flow down with standards like snaking or preventative maintenance are perfect situations where a hydro jetting service is needed. 

 Hydro Jetting pipes

However, hydro jetting works well for just about any kind or degree of a sewer blockage, whether it is a serious accumulation (heavy grease and sludge buildup), massive root intrusion, silt, or dirt. Also, hydro jetting is ideal for both residential and commercial properties. Having an experienced sewer and drain specialist handle the task will get the obstructions out and get your drains flowing again.


Note, knowing the condition of your sewer line is going to be the best proactive approach to preventing emergency backups. However, if you find yourself with a backed up sewer line, you will need to contact a sewer and drain specialist right away.  At NW Sewer & Drain we start by assessing the situation over the phone and will provide you with the best options to help your sewer line flowing again.


Signs You Need Hydro Jetting

Here are some more indicators or signs that you may need hydro jetting to clear up clogs and free up flow in your sewer line:


  • Your drains are slow draining, not draining or overflowing.
  • When your home’s piping system starts making gurgling sounds.
  • If your home drainage pipes are old; they are much more likely to become clogged.
  • When scopes/camera inspection indicates problems inside your sewer line.  For example, root intrusion, grease, rocks, sand and soft blockage.
  • You may notice the water level in your toilet rising or falling for inexplicable reasons.
  • When water flowing through one drain causes gurgling in another household drain.

What Is Pipe Descaling?

What is Pipe Descaling?

pipe descaling

Pipe descaling involves using water pressure to remove hardened debris and deposit of minerals and corrosion from sewer and drain pipes. Pipe descaling effectively removes accumulated minerals and rust from the inner surfaces of water, drainage, or sewer pipes. This technique is often applied when hydro-jetting isn’t enough to remove drain clogs. 


Pipe descaling helps to restore the normal flow of water throughout commercial or residential plumbing systems, enabling your sewer systems to drain properly once again. In most cases, pipe descaling is used in older homes, so unless you live in an old property, you may not need to worry about pipe descaling for a very long time. 


Pipe descaling is a very important plumbing procedure, especially in buildings with lots of minerals, such as calcium and magnesium carbonates in the water supply. When implemented correctly, pipe descaling can help prevent future clogs, extending the life of your drain pipes and saving you money.

What Causes Scaling?

Pipe scaling often occurs in cast iron pipes, or plumbing systems with old pipes. It results over time from the build-up of minerals and rust from the inner linings of drain pipes. These minerals are mostly calcium carbonate and magnesium. Although slight scaling of metal pipes can be beneficial for preventing corrosion, it becomes a problem if it persists for a longer time.


Also, if your sewer pipes are cast iron pipes, there’s a tendency for the pipes to scale over time. In fact, scaling in cast iron pipes can be severe as the inner surfaces of the pipes become coated with iron oxide and calcium and magnesium salts. This leads to the build-up of a thick, uneven layer of mineral and rust deposits on the pipe walls. And as this happens, the mineral and rust deposits start to snag on all the solids and gunk flowing through the pipe. Ultimately, the pipe becomes clogged, restricting the flow of both water and sewage. 


Thankfully, pipe scaling works effectively for removing these scales and mineral deposits. 

Possible Signs You Need Pipe Descaling

Generally, the main signs of the pipes that need descaling include foul odors from the drains or sink, slow-draining water, or backed-up water. Other possible signs that your sewer line needs to be descaled include the following: 


  • Gurgling sounds coming from the toilet
  • Multiple slow-running drains in your plumbing system 
  • Water coming out of the shower when the washing machine is in use
  • Sewage coming back up through drains

How Do I Prevent Pipe Scaling?

  • Don’t drain thick substances like food, tissues, or paint
  • Watch what you flush down the toilet. Avoid flushing grease and oily stuff down the drains.
  • Do not throw papers and other solids into the sink or toilet. 
  • Schedule a regular inspection of your sewer drain with your local sewer and drain specialist. 

How Does Pipe Descaling Work?


There are different methods or techniques of pipe descaling. Before deciding to descale your pipes, you want to ensure that the sewer and drain specialist conducts a proper investigation of your sewer system. This way, they can better advise you to proceed with descaling or not. 


At N.W. Sewer and Drain, our pipe cleaning procedures all conform with industry standards, so we typically take out time to understand the problem in your drain system before descaling. Note that descaling essentially means removing the clogs and stubborn deposits clinging to your drain pipe walls and blocking the flow of sewage and water. 

Methods of Descaling

At first, we engage hydro-jetting, a stream of highly-pressurized water (typically at 4000 psi) to dislodge the scales. Hydro-jetting is a very powerful pipe cleaning technique used in both residential and commercial properties to clean out clogs and blockages. At N.W. Sewer & Drain, we usually recommend hydro-jetting to remove stubborn blockages like root intrusions and scales (hardened mineral deposits and rusts).


For this process, the drain specialist will attach a descaling nozzle to the hydro-jet to blast pressurized water through the nozzle and into the pipes. The descaling nozzle, the outlet for the water, has a chain attached to its tip. As the pressurized water flows through the nozzle, it rotates the chain, scrubbing the rust and mineral buildup lining the surface of the pipe. As the chain scrubs the pipes, the water washes out the scales.


However, we have also seen that hydro-jetting is not the best solution at all times. If your pipes are old, they may be too weak or fragile to withstand the high pressure of the water. In such situations, descaling can cause way more harm than good. Luckily, there are other methods of descaling that produce the desired results.

Risks of Pipe Descaling



Pipe descaling has been in use for decades and it has been quite effective in preventing plumbing problems. However, there are some risks associated with this method of cleaning pipes.

The first risk is that if you use too much water pressure when flushing water through your pipes, you can damage your pipes. This can lead to leaks and even burst pipes which can be very costly to repair or replace. The second risk is that if you don’t flush enough water through your pipes then the deposits will not be removed and your pipe may eventually clog up or even burst due to corrosion.

Will Pipe Descaling Ruin My Landscaping?

As already stated, descaling uses special equipment. Therefore, it does not mess up your landscape. Unlike traditional pipe repair methods that involve the digging of trenches in your yard, descaling is completely done within the drain pipes with the aid of special tools and equipment. 

Benefits of Pipe Descaling

Besides clearing the blockage in your drain system, implementing pipe descaling can benefit you in several ways. 

  1. Extend the life of your drain pipes: Descaling your sewer system is definitely one of many ways to ensure they last long. Without a doubt, we know that rust and mineral deposits on the surface of your drain pipes can speed up the rate of deterioration of the pipes. This is why we often recommend regular drain maintenance to our clients. Cleaning out pipe scales on time will help you extend the life of your drain pipes.
  1. Save money on pipe replacement: Another good thing about timely pipe descaling is that you won’t incur expenses sooner than you should. Delaying pipe descaling when you obviously need to descale can have costly consequences. The cost of descaling is cheaper than the cost you’ll incur trying to fix or replace damaged pipes. 
  1. Ideal for residential and commercial properties: Pipe descaling is great for both residential and commercial properties. However, the procedure the sewer and drain specialist will apply in your home might differ from the approach used when dealing with commercial properties. You can expect that it will be more rigorous and time-consuming. The same goes for the cost of pipe descaling; residential sewer drains are less complex and typically cost less to maintain than larger, commercial buildings.
  1. It is environmentally friendly: Unlike pipe repair techniques that involve the digging of trenches, descaling does not include digging of trenches. So you won’t need to worry about your beautiful lawn or yard getting excavated. 
  1. Convenient for everyone: Although the sewer and drain company might likely ask that you temporarily suspend the use of the toilets and sinks in your house, the procedure is generally not discomforting to homeowners. In some cases, especially when the descaling project might extend for long hours, most sewer companies will allow the use of a few convenience facilities within the house, pending when the descaling is done. 

Why is Descaling Necessary in Pipes?

Your sewer drains are typically exposed to lots of waste from your home. As explained earlier, these wastes, which may sometimes be minerals like calcium carbonate, accumulate on the walls of the pipes and block the free flow of the sewer. Detecting and removing these wastes on time can help you prevent early damages to the drain pipes, thereby extending the life of the pipes. 

Normally, in residential properties, cast iron drain pipes last anywhere from 50 – 75 years. However, when exposed to scaling, rusting, and some other environmental factors, the speed of deterioration can speed up drastically, making you replace the pipes sooner, which can be an expensive undertaking. If a typical cast iron pipe doesn’t reach this age before replacement, it must have deteriorated faster than it should.

You want to avoid washing materials like grease down the drain to prevent this. Other causes of cast iron degradation can be acidic soil, detergents, accumulation of minerals, and drain chemicals. To avoid the expense of installing new sewer lines, you want to be deliberate about maintaining your drain pipes.

Special Pipe Descaling Services

At N.W. Sewer & Drain, we utilize newer technologies that incorporate high-powered spinning brushes, grinding chains, and special drill bits for safely descaling sewer pipes. When hiring a company to descale your sewer pipes, ensure that they have the experience and expertise to handle the project. 


We approach each problem as a unique project because plumbing issues can vary widely from one home to another, and so can the solution needed to fix the problems. Depending on the severity of the blockage or scales and the nature of your plumbing system, we proffer solutions that are tailor-made for your plumbing system.


For some descaling projects, we have to introduce a combination of two techniques to get the job done. In some cases, hydro-jetting alone gets the job done. Ideally, your local plumbing company should carry out a sewer line camera inspection of the drain pipes to determine the nature and severity of the problem. That can even define whether you need a pipe descaling or pipe replacement. Be wary of plumbing companies that recommend hydro-jetting or any other pipe descaling techniques without first doing a sewer line camera inspection.

Does Pipes Descaling Work for All Kinds of Pipes?


While pipe descaling is recommended for cleaning out blockages from your pipes, you also need to know that it is not recommended for all kinds of pipes. In most cases, cast iron pipes benefit the most from pipe descaling because of their tendency to undergo rusting and accumulate minerals. 


However, from our experience working on multiple plumbing systems, scaling also happens in pipes made from other materials, such as copper, and even in concrete pipes. If you live in modern homes where pipes like PVC, PEX pipes, copper, and galvanized steel are used, you may not need to worry about descaling.


If you have hard water running through your office or home pipes, you can expect to have a scaling problem after a period of time. You can decide to opt for electronic descalers, as they are preventive in design. It can help you prevent the accumulation of magnesium and calcium in the water on the walls of your drain pipes. Once the minerals are not able to adhere to the sides of the pipes, they will not be able to trap grease and other debris entering the sewer line.


In case you’re currently suffering a blockage in your sewer line, and you’re wondering whether descaling is the remedy you need, it is advisable to speak with your local sewer and drain contractor to observe your sewer line and advise you on which solution is best for the problem.


Generally, a sewer and drain specialist will be able to tell whether you need pipe descaling by examining the type of pipe installed in your plumbing system, the condition of the pipe, and the location of the pipe. Your sewer and drain specialist will evaluate the issue and inform you whether you need a repair or replacement.


The Cost of Pipe Descaling


The cost of sewer pipe descaling varies depending on the nature and complexity of the project. It also depends on the company you hire, as different companies have different prices. Some companies will charge you based on the number of hours it takes to fully clean out the scales and rusts, while others may charge you based on the equipment and workforce required to do the job. Remember that hydro-jetting doesn’t always work.  


Generally, the cost of a sewer pipe descaling project will depend on the company’s expertise you’re hiring, the equipment needed, and the time required to finish the project. So, it is best to contact different companies and inquire about their prices and services before hiring. 


After comparing prices from different companies, you can choose the best according to your budget. Keep in mind that hiring a cheaper service does not always mean you got the best deal. A cheaper budget is more likely to get you a lower-quality job. If you’re looking to get the best services, consider working with the best company at the most reasonable price.

How to Hire the Right Sewer and Drain Company


If you’re experiencing a water seepage, have hard water running in your taps, experiencing slow-moving drain, terrible odors, gurgling sounds, or a drain pipe blockage, you need a sewer camera inspection done to ascertain the nature and extent of the problem. This will enable the sewer and drain specialist to advise you on which method to descale the pipes or free up your drain pipes. 


Because of the technical nature of pipe descaling, ensure you hire a company with a track record of successful pipe descaling projects. Ideally, they should be a known and trusted name in your neighborhood. If possible, ask to see their website, portfolio, and reviews. One good way to spot a good company is by checking if they’re registered with the relevant regulatory bodies.

Residential & Commercial Pipe Descaling from N.W. Sewer & Drains

At N.W. Sewer & Drain, we handle pipe descaling in both residential and commercial buildings. Following industry best practices, we have a reputation for resolving all kinds of sewer and drain line problems.

We have a reliable team of sewer and drain specialists capable of fixing all plumbing issues, including clogged pipes and scales. We typically use a preliminary camera inspection to understand the issue so that we can advise our clients on the most appropriate remedies for their sewer line problems.

Currently, we service residential and commercial properties in Seattle, including Marysville, Everett, Lynnwood, Oak Harbor, Mount Vernon, Bellevue, Kirkland, Shoreline, Renton, Lake Forest Park, Mountlake Terrace, Auburn, etc. For about 20 years, we have maintained top-notch drain cleaning services. Whether hydro-jetting, or trenchless sewer pipe repair, we follow the best practices in the industry.

Our hydro-jetting solution is highly effective in clearing sewer and drain lines of all kinds of stubborn debris and clogs. We are not only reliable but also affordable. If you are on the lookout for an affordable and reliable sewer camera inspection service, feel free to contact us today at 206-931-7728 to schedule an inspection of your drain lines.


At NW Sewer & Drain, we are committed to helping all our clients with their sewer related needs.  We primarily service residential and commercial properties in the Greater Seattle area as well as western Washington outlying cities such as; Bellevue, Kirkland, Shoreline, Renton, Lake Forest Park, Bremerton, Mountlake Terrace, Auburn, Mount Vernon, Oak Harbor, Marysville, Everett, Kenmore, Lynnwood, Bellingham, Anacortes, Edmonds, Arlington and Bothell.  For nearly  20 years, we have maintained top-notch drain cleaning services.


Our pipe descaling solution is highly effective in clearing sewer and drain lines of all kinds of debris and clogs. We are not only reliable but also affordable. Are you looking for an affordable and reliable hydro jetting service? Contact us today at 206-931-7728 to schedule an inspection of your sewer lines.


Our team of experienced professionals can provide you with a variety of pipe inspection, cleaning, repair, and replacement services that can maintain, rehabilitate, and restore your pipes to their proper function.

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