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How to use a pipe-cleaning brush?

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Choosing the method of using a pipe cleaning brush (tube, interior, twisted brush) There are two main ways to use a pipe-cleaning brush: manually or in a power tool. Most jobs can be done manually but using a power tool can increase efficiency and it’s not so tiring either! Power brushes can damage delicate parts so take that into consideration when choosing which method to use.

Manual brushing

Inserting a pipe cleaning brush (AKA tube, interior, twisted brush) into a copper pipe.

Step 1 – Insert brush

Once you have chosen the right brush for the job (see How to choose a pipe cleaning brush?), take the part you wish to clean and insert the tip of the brush into the opening. It may help if you do this under a good light.

Pull, push and twist the pipe cleaning brush (AKA tube, bottle, twisted brush) to loosen dirt in the pipe.

Step 2 – Push, pull and twist brush

Push, twist and pull the pipe-cleaning brush in and out of the opening, starting gently at first and increasing the speed and pressure if needed.

Remove the pipe cleaning brush (tube, spiral, interior brush) from the pipe and brush away the loose dirt

Step 3 – Remove brush

Remove the pipe-cleaning brush from the part. You should notice that sediment is being removed from the surface you have been cleaning.

Scratched and polished internal surface of a copper pipe ready for soldering.  If it is a metal surface, the surface may be changing texture. Brush any loose material from the surface.
Using a smaller pipe cleaning brush (tube, interior, bottle brush) to clean harder to reach areas like through a plug hole

Step 4 – Repeat

Repeat steps 1-4 until the surface is as you need it. You may need to focus your efforts in areas that are harder to reach. Using a smaller brush can help to get into all the nooks and crannies.

Power brushing

Refer to the product description to find out what revolutions per minute (RPM) the power tool and pipe cleaning brush (tube, twisted, interior brush) can go at.

Step 1 – Check you have the correct power tool for your brush

A maximum number of revolutions per minute (RPM) will be stated in the product description of your pipe-cleaning brush. It is essential you do not exceed this limit. Your pipe-cleaning brush will work efficiently at a much lower RPM. Refer to your power tool details for its top speed so you can use the correct tool or setting.

Fitting a shanked end pipe cleaning brush (tube, interior, fitting brush) into a power drill

Step 2 – Insert the brush into the power tool

Set the power tool to spin clockwise as if screwing in a screw. Insert the brush shank into the chuck of the power tool and clamp it in place. The shank of the pipe-cleaning brush must be inserted fully into the power tool with a maximum of 10mm sticking out from the chuck.

See above for manual use of pipe cleaning brushes (AKA tube, spiral or twisted brush)

Step 3 – Follow manual brushing steps

Follow steps 1 to 4 of manual brushing (above). You do not need to apply much pressure for a thorough clean and remember that you do not have to twist the brush when it is inserted into the pipe because the power tool does that part for you.

Cool the pipe cleaning brush (tube, interior, fitting brush) in between uses

Step 4 – Cool the brush

Do not let the brush get too hot as it won’t be as efficient at cleaning the pipe. Allow time for the brush to cool down between uses.