Time was, a sewer jetter was all you needed in your equipment fleet to handle emergencies like pipeline blockages.

The introduction of combination sewer cleaners changed that thinking, with the advantage of having a single machine that could jet material loose and then vacuum it out. Crews were able to open up blockages faster in case of emergencies, and they also could perform extra routine cleaning on more lines in a single day.

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Today, advanced combination sewer cleaner designs can provide even greater designed-in versatility advantages, like hydro excavation capability or a system to recycler water vacuumed from sewer lines. These are features that can save time and money, help the environment or eliminate the need for extra machines in your fleet.

RELATED: How to Select a Recycling Sewer Cleaner

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When purchasing or specifying a combination machine, the first questions are always relative to jetting and vacuum forces. But with today’s advanced designs, to maximize the return on your investment, you should greatly expand your considerations.

8 factors to keep in mind:


How versatile is the equipment?

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Will the machine serve multiple municipal departments for storm water cleanup, sewer cleaning and maintenance, utility work, hydro excavation around pipes utility lines and for hydrant replacements, etc. Even contractors feel the pressure to buy equipment and machines with multiple uses. Ideally, both municipalities and contractors want one machine that can do the work of many machines, allowing them to take less equipment to job sites, or even reduce their need for extra equipment investments.


  1. Can the truck perform in our conditions and environment? Operators and department heads need to know if their equipment can work effectively year-round. Taxpayers (and contractors’ customers) require immediate maintenance work … not when weather improves. During winter weather, especially, the most productive machine designs keep water from freezing, and provide a compartment for operators to change their clothes and warm up.

  2. How simple is the machine to operate? Employee turnover raises concerns about lost productivity while new operators are trained. Likewise, even experienced operators increase their productivity and their working satisfaction with equipment that doesn’t have complicated startup procedures or require a lot of extra adjustments, guesswork and unexpected operator errors. Happy, productive operators like to get to the job and get to work as soon as possible.

  3. What is the average cost of ownership annually? This should be a major consideration beyond initial purchase price. Single-engine designs, for example, reduce fuel consumption, harmful emissions, routine filter replacements and other maintenance tasks vs. machines that use two engines – one to power the chassis and another to power the jet/vac functions. Ask about the cost and availability of routine service parts? It’s also appropriate to be concerned about equipment reliability, because downtime and a void in productivity can skyrocket ownership cost.

  4. How easy is it to repair? Is the machine equipped with self-

    diagnosing software? Are replacement parts readily available? Are training classes offered?

  5. Who do I call when this machine quits working? Service and support after the purchase and delivery are critical. Make sure there’s a convenient resource for factory-backed routine service procedures, emergency repairs and authorized replacement parts. Typically, you want a dedicated distributor location with trained, experienced technicians to trouble-shoot and resolve

    unexpected problems.

  6. Is the radio Bluetooth compatible and does the passenger seat have air ride? Creature comforts are important to keep operators happy and productive. Operators want a machine that’s easy to operate, but they also appreciate a machine that’s comfortable and friendly for the over-the-road portion of

    their workday.

  7. Ask about warranties. Quality equipment is expensive, so it’s great to think you will never need warranty coverage on your machine or its various components. But that’s just not a reasonable expectation with machines that are out working hard every day. You want to know what kind of warranty support will you receive from competent manufacturers of your chassis as well as the jet/vac system. Recognizing this concern, some combo machine manufacturers even offer lifetime warranties on water and debris tanks, which can confidently extend your expectation for a longer, more productive working life of your equipment, maximizing your return on your equipment investment.