What Is A Chain Knocker And Why Do We Use Them For Drain Cleaning?

In the world of plumbing equipment and materials, there are a few tools that have revolutionized the pipe cleaning and drain maintenance process; the chain knocker is one of the most important. Today, this unassuming yet highly effective device is a staple in the arsenal of professional plumbers and drain cleaners worldwide. In this article, we will dive into the use of chain knockers, exploring their functions, applications, and the leading manufacturers behind their innovation. 

What is a Chain Knocker for Drain Cleaning and Pipe Cleaning? 

A chain knocker is a specialized tool designed for clearing blockages and obstructions, and removing buildup such as scale and mineral deposits within pipes and drains. It consists of a length of sturdy chain or group of chains with various attachments, such as cutting edges or abrasive tips on its surface. The chain is driven (spun) by a power source, typically a motorized machine, which rotates it rapidly within the pipe or drain. 

The primary function of a chain knocker is to dislodge and remove deposits, debris, tree roots, scale buildup, and other stubborn obstructions that impede the flow of water or waste through plumbing systems. In contrast to traditional methods like snaking or hydro-jetting, chain knockers offer a more targeted and aggressive approach, making them particularly effective in tackling tough blockages and restoring optimal flow. While all these mentioned applications have a strong place in pipe maintenance and rehab, this article focuses on the use of chain knockers. 

Applications and Usage 

Chain knockers find widespread application in various plumbing and drain cleaning scenarios, including: 

      • Residential Drain Cleaning: From kitchen sinks to shower drains, chain knockers excel in clearing clogs caused by grease, hair, soap scum, and other common household debris. 

      • Pipe Repair: Chain knockers are commonly utilized when preparing a pipe for rehabilitation. When a pipe has minor deficits or damage, chain knockers can be used to appropriately prep the surface for spray coating or pipelining. 

      • Commercial Plumbing Maintenance: In commercial settings such as restaurants, hotels, and office buildings, where heavy usage can lead to severe blockages, chain knockers provide a quick and efficient solution for restoring proper drainage. 

      • Municipal Sewer Systems: Municipalities rely on chain knockers to maintain the integrity of their sewer networks, preventing backups, overflows, and costly infrastructure damage. 

      • Industrial Pipelines: In industrial facilities where corrosive substances, sludge, or sediment accumulation pose significant challenges, chain knockers offer a reliable means of keeping pipelines clear and operational. 


    Size and Shape of Chain Knockers 

    Chain knockers are not one-size-fits-all. Careful choices should be made depending on the pipe materials and diameter size. What works well for PVC pipe might not be ideal for cast iron pipe cleaning. The pipe’s diameter will determine the proper size of chain knocker to be used. Note that some chain knockers are able to adapt to multiple pipe sizes. 

    Knowing the best shape for your needs depends on what you want to achieve. There are circular chains that open to fill the entire pipe diameter, and there are options of small cutting edges or drill head tips. Some knockers are cone-shaped and can have a single chain or multiple chains and penetrating tips or flat heads. Depending on the delicacy of the pipe material and the problems within the pipe, selecting the correct chain knocker is a key step. 

    Leading Chain Knocker Manufacturers 

    A couple of well-known companies lead the charge in producing high-quality chain knockers, offering a range of options tailored to different pipe materials, requirements, and preferences. Among them, Ridgid Tools and Picote Solutions stand out as industry pioneers renowned for their commitment to excellence and innovation. 

        • Ridgid Tools: With a legacy spanning over a century, Ridgid Tools has established itself as a premier manufacturer of plumbing and pipe maintenance equipment. Their line of chain knockers embodies rugged durability, precision engineering, and unmatched performance. Professionals trust Ridgid chain knockers to deliver consistent results in the most demanding environments. The company also offers a variety of equipment choices for powering chain knockers. 

        • Picote Solutions: As a specialist in trenchless technology and drain cleaning solutions, Picote Solutions has earned a reputation for pushing the boundaries of innovation. Their range of chain knockers features innovative designs, advanced materials, and versatile configurations, making them a preferred choice for discerning professionals seeking efficiency and reliability. 

      Equipment Compatibility 

      Chain knockers can be compatible with power-driven machines and attachments, allowing for flexibility and customization based on specific requirements. Some common types of equipment used in conjunction with chain knockers include: 

          • Drain Cleaning Machines and Flex Shafts: Motorized drain cleaning machines serve as the power source for chain knockers, providing the rotational force needed to drive the chain and dislodge obstructions effectively. 

          • Augers and Cutters: Augers and cutting attachments can be combined with chain knockers to enhance their cutting and scraping capabilities, enabling them to tackle a wide range of blockages with precision and efficiency. 

          • Camera Inspection Systems: Some integrated camera inspection systems allow operators to visualize the interior of pipes and drains in real-time, guiding the deployment of chain knockers and ensuring thorough cleaning and inspection. 

          • High-Pressure Water Jetters: In conjunction with high-pressure water jetting equipment, chain knockers offer a comprehensive approach to pipe and drain cleaning, combining mechanical agitation with hydraulic force to achieve optimal results. 


        In the field of pipe and drain cleaning, the chain knocker stands as a testament to the ingenuity and craftsmanship of modern plumbing technology. With its ability to tackle even the toughest blockages with ease, this indispensable tool has earned its place in the toolbox of professional plumbers and drain cleaners worldwide. As industry leaders like Ridgid Tools and Picote Solutions continue to push the boundaries of innovation, the future of pipe and drain maintenance looks brighter than ever, ensuring clean, efficient, and reliable plumbing systems for generations to come. 


        For more information on chain knockers or to talk to a drain cleaning pro, give Apex CIPP a call at 941-300-0441.


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