Swabbing vs. Pigging

The difference between swabbing and pigging is quite profound. Swabbing is the process of cleaning loose sludge and debris from inside pipelines using a typical 1.2lb or 1.5lb density foam cylinder with a polyethylene backing. Of course, there are other variations of swabs but the photo below shows a typical design. Swabs are also much more flexible and can make 90° and 180° bends in the pipeline easily.

Pigging is a much more involved process that is utilized to scour the inside of the pipeline and ultimately remove all of the hard buildup. The pigs are launched into the system based on an approach that starts with small diameter and increases to just less than the pipeline diameter.

Pigging derived its name from the apparent squealing sound the PVC coating makes rubbing against the pipe wall as it slowly proceeds through the pipe.

And just to make things more confusing….there are bears as well. Bears are very dense foam that increase the ability to remove debris that a foam swab cannot.


 Click on the pictures to enlarge and see a description of each.

Sanitary Foremain Swabbing

Swabbing sanitary sewer forcemains is complicated and requires a very clear understanding of the system infrastructure. SFE relies on accurate drawings, numerous site inspections and the extensive knowledge from our Client to develop a successful sanitary sewer forcemain swabbing plan.


 Click on the pictures to enlarge and see a description of each.

Domestic Water Pipeline Swabbing & Pigging

SFE have successfully swabbed and pigged thousands of meters of domestic water pipelines. Whether it is the entire Town, a specific area or just one pipeline, SFE has the experience and equipment to clean the system using swabbing and/or pigging.


 Click on the pictures to enlarge and see a description of each.

Other Systems SFE Cleans

Since 1992, SFE has cleaned:

  • Sea water intake and discharge pipelines that are clogged with mussels, barnacles and debris
  • Leachate discharge lines, mainly located in or near landfill areas
  • Gravity sewer pipelines
  • Hydro Penstock pipelines