How to Use a High-Speed Flexible Shaft Machine

Posted by Spartan Tool on Dec 22, 2022

How to Use a High-Speed Flexible Shaft Machine

One of the most significant innovations in drain cleaning tools technology in the past few decades is that of the high-speed flexible shaft machine. Flex shaft machines can make shorter, easier work of tough clogs that are obstructing the proper flow of water. Because they are still a relatively new piece of plumbing hardware however, there are many who do not understand how to properly use them in an effective and safe manner. In order to help remedy this and point plumbers in the right direction, Spartan Tool is here today to explain how to use a high-speed flexible shaft machine.

Spartan Tool Revolution M1

What is a High-Speed Flexible Shaft Machine?

It is not all that uncommon for folks to become creatures of habit. If a particular method for getting a job done works well enough, it is pretty common for people to stick with it. However, this should not be the case for professions such as plumbing – especially when it comes to clearing tricky obstructions like roots. Some professionals still use the same old method of using a flat rod as a battering ram. A high-speed flexible shaft machine can make the job take far less time with significantly less effort – all while doing a much safer and more effective job.

So what exactly is a high-speed flexible shaft machine? What does it do? How does it work? In a sense, a flex shaft machine is a drain cleaning machine that in a sense acts as a weed whacker that you can feed into a drain in order to get rid of clogs in a quick, efficient, and reliable way. One of the key advantages of them is that they can be paired with a sewer camera in order to pinpoint and immediately obliterate things like tree roots or other obstructions that have somehow found their way into the pipes.

How high-speed flexible shaft machines work is relatively simple to understand. Essentially, flex shaft machines make use of a wire coil that rotates swiftly (kind of like a speedometer cable) inside a tube or hose that is both hollow and flexible. From there, a high-speed motor is connected to the back side. Usually a cutting device like a carbide tipped chain, often referred to as a chain knocker is then attached to the front end. The cutters rotate at around 2,000 RPM, making them very useful for things like pipe prep, milling, as well as root removal. When they have the right tool for cutting equipped, flex shaft machines leave pipes in perfect condition to work with the material that is used for the procedure of relining a pipe. This gives flex shaft machines a considerable advantage over more traditional plumbing cable machines that have cables that do not rotate when they are being used to clear a drain or sewer.

How to Use a High-Speed Flexible Shaft Machine

Like with any tool for any job, knowing the proper usage of a high-speed flexible shaft machine before you get started with a drain cleaning job is super important. Having the right know-how with a flex shaft machine can get you ahead of the game in a multitude of ways. It can help you with cleaning sewer lines much quicker and more effectively. Plus, it can help keep you from accidentally doing any damage to your drain cleaning tools or to the plumbing itself. The following steps will help you know how to use a high-speed flexible shaft machine properly and effectively:

Before You Get Started: Knowing the Proper Safety Protocol

When you are using a high-speed flexible shaft machine, you need to keep in mind that safety is your first and foremost concern. There are a number of different things that could go wrong if you are not careful enough, so it is of the utmost importance that you abide by all safety protocol listed for the usage of a flex shaft machine. The last thing you want while you are out on a sewer and drain cleaning job is receiving injury or having to tell a client that you have done considerable damage to their plumbing that was already in need of professional service to begin with. Fortunately, it is simple enough to be able to avoid all of that.

Wear Proper Safety Attire

As with many jobs involving heavy machinery of any type, it is important that you are wearing proper safety attire while operating a high-speed flexible shaft machine. This will keep you from having to deal with a wide variety of different types of injuries as well as possible bacterial infections from the sewer or drain water that you are dealing with. When it comes to operating a flex shaft machine, you will want to always be wearing protective attire such as latex or rubber gloves, a face shield, protective clothing such as coveralls, as well as respirators or other protective equipment that would adequately protect you.

Never Use a Corded Drill

When you are using a high-speed flexible shaft machine, you want to make sure that you absolutely NEVER do so when using a corded drill. The reason behind this is that when you do so, you significantly increase the risk of receiving a serious and possibly deadly electric shock – especially since you are usually working in an area that has a considerable amount of water lying around on the floor or ground. Instead, you will want to opt for a cordless, battery operated drill with a flex shaft drill head. These kinds of drills will keep you a great deal safer by lessening the chance for receiving such a shock.

Do Not Let the Chain Knocker/End of Cable Stop Turning While Using Drill Switch

When you are operating a flex shaft machine, you want to make sure that you never let its chain knocker or the end of its cable cease its turning while you have the drill switch pushed down. The reason behind this is that it can cause significant overstress on your high-speed flexible shaft machine’s cable. As a result, this can end up causing kinking, twisting, or even breaking of the machine’s cable assembly. In addition to this, such catastrophic damage to your small sewer machine could also result in personal injury to yourself. Depending on the severity of the injury, this could cause you to need to go to the hospital in order to seek out treatment.

Practice Good Hygiene

An important thing to keep in mind while operating a high-speed flexible shaft machine is to practice good hygiene. This means that you will want to avoid smoking or eating while you the sewer drain cleaner is in use. Additionally, you will want to use hot soapy water to wash your hands and any other exposed body parts after you have finished the job. The reason for this is that you will want to ensure that you heavily reduce the risk of health hazards that happen due to being exposed to infectious or toxic materials that can come from a drain or sewer.

Keep Hand on Cable Assembly While Flex Shaft Machine is in Use

During the course of using a flex shaft machine, you want to make sure that you keep a hand on the cable assembly. Doing so will provide you with considerably better control over the sewer drain cleaner while you are cleaning sewer lines or other kinds of drains. This practice also helps you in preventing drain cleaning machine failures such as kinking, twisting, and breakage of the cable. It also helps in preventing any personal injury from occurring while you are drain cleaning with a high-speed flexible shaft machine. As a result, this can help you avoid a costly visit to the emergency room.

Keep Flex Shaft Machine within 3 Feet of Drain

While you are operating a small sewer machine such as a flex shaft machine for sewer and drain cleaning, you will always want to keep it no more than 3 feet (or 1 meter) away from the drain opening. If you keep it any farther away, then you run the risk of causing problems that can lead to serious problems for your drain cleaning machine such as twisting, kinking, or the cable being broken. As with other actions you should avoid while using a high-speed flexible shaft machine, you could find yourself meeting with crushing injury to yourself if you keep it farther away than 3 feet. If for some reason you have to, you at least will need to find a way to properly support the cable assembly. However, it is best practice to avoid having to do this if possible.

Part 1: Getting Started

When you get started with a sewer and drain cleaning job using a high-speed flexible shaft machine, the first thing you want to do is make sure that your work area is completely free of any obstructions, bystanders, or other distractions. This will make for a much safer and easier time getting the job done. Then make sure that your small sewer machine is kept no more than 3 feet away from the opening of the drain you are cleaning out.

From there, you will want to begin feeding in the drain cleaning cable into the drain, routing the cable assembly directly from the drain cable assembly to minimize exposed cable as well as changes in direction. You want to be absolutely certain that the cable is far enough into the sewer or drain so that you do not end up having a situation where chain knocker comes out of the drain and proceeds to whip around once the machine has started.

Part 2: Sewer and Drain Cleaning with a High-Speed Flexible Shaft Machine

After you have fed the cable from the flex shaft machine into the drain hole, you will want to make sure that you assume a proper working position. This is one where you are kneeling on the floor, have one hand on your machine (usually on the drill), and the other feeding and working with the cable itself. This helps you to maintain a proper handle on your flex shaft machine and keep the procedure safe and effective. While doing so, ensure that you are able to quickly release the drill’s switch if necessary.

Where the Real Work Begins

Once you have the cable from the high-speed flexible shaft machine in the drain and the machine is up and running, this is where you begin to advance the chain knocker. However, you will want to do so without the chain rotating. If you should find yourself at a blockage, then you will want to pass the chain knocker through it. However, do not force it. If you can, you will want to get the flow of water going to carry any debris and cuttings away as you are getting the drain or sewer clean. At this point, you will want to rotate the knocker at its full speed. Continue to rotate the knocker, and then gradually begin to draw the drain cable assembly in order to cut up the obstruction. Afterward, pull back the drain cable assembly while the chain is rotating so that chain knocker will be able to clean the sewer or drain’s walls.

Part 3: Finishing the Job

As you are in the process of retrieving the cable, you will want to let the chain continue to rotate. This will allow for your flex shaft machine to continue to clean off the walls of the inside of the pipe. You will want to keep a close eye on your sewer cable, as it could become lodged inside of a blockage while in the process of being retracted. Additionally, you will need to watch closely for the sheath marking on your high-speed flexible shaft machine’s cable. When the chain knocker is getting close to the opening of the drain, you will want to release your drill’s switch. Do NOT pull out the chain knocker from a drain while it is still rotating, as this could end up causing you a great deal of serious personal injury that will require immediate intense medical attention.

From here, you will want to use a clean towel to wipe off the knocker. Additionally, you will want to reel up any remaining drain cable back into the drain cable assembly by hand. You will also want to use your high-speed flexible shaft machine’s drainage system to release any water from the drain, as forgoing this can cause damage to your equipment and can also be a serious health risk to you.

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