Drain Cleaning Tips

Click the choices below to get customized drain cleaning tips. You can go back to change your answers at any time.
NoQuestion/HeadingAnswers
1My clogged plumbing fixture or drain opening is:
  • Inside my building
  • Outside my building
2The clog is in:
  • Only one plumbing fixture or drain opening
  • More than one plumbing fixture or drain opening
3I suspect that tree roots or a solid object could be clogging the drain.
  • Yes, I suspect tree roots or a solid object, or am unsure
  • No, I don't think there are any tree roots
4The clog is in a:
  • Toilet
  • Sink
  • Bath or shower drain
  • Laundry drain for a washing machine
  • Floor drain
  • Other type of drain in the building
5I have been told my building could have foundation problems, or there are symptoms such as sticking doors and cracking walls.
  • Yes, I suspect foundation problems
  • No foundation problems
6I am comfortable using power equipment to clean the drain myself.
  • Yes, I'm comfortable using power equipment to clean the drain
  • No or don't know
7I suspect that a portion of the outdoor drain could be separated, cracked or collapsed.
  • Yes, I think there might be separation or damage in the drain
  • No, I think the drain is in good condition
8I have already tried an accordion-style toilet plunger.
  • Yes, I have already tried an accordion-style toilet plunger
  • No, I have not yet tried the toilet plunger
9I have already tried an accordion-style sink plunger to clear the clog.
  • Yes, I have already tried an accordion-style sink plunger
  • No, I have not yet tried this
10I have already tried an accordion-style plunger to clear the bath or shower drain.
  • Yes, I have already tried an accordion-style plunger
  • No, I have not yet tried this
11I have already tried a handheld drum auger to clear the drain.
  • Yes, I have already tried a handheld drum auger
  • No, I have not yet tried this
12I have already tried a handheld drum auger to clear the floor drain.
  • Yes, I have already tried a drum auger
  • No, I have not yet tried this
13The inside diameter (ID) of the clogged drain line is:
  • 2-1/2 inches or less
  • More than 2-1/2 inches
14If Your Building Might Have Foundation Problems If you have been told that your building might have foundation problems, or if your building has symptoms like sticking doors and cracking sheetrock, your best solution is usually to hire a licensed plumber to inspect your drains with a video camera and make sure there are no breaks in the sewer drains. Cleaning damaged drain lines yourself, without first inspecting the lines, could lead to additional problems.

To Find a Good Licensed PlumberPlumber's Van

Start by asking family, friends and co-workers to recommend a licensed plumber who has performed similar repairs for them.

If you are unable to find a good recommendation from someone you know, next search local directories like Google Maps, Yelp and CitySearch for licensed plumbers nearby who have good online reviews. Don't always trust reviews from individuals who have very few other reviews, or from people who give only positive reviews to everyone. Be aware that good service providers sometimes get a small number of negative reviews for reasons that might not be relevant to your situation. Look for a company with several reviews that tell a positive, believable story about repairs that are similar to yours.

After you find one or more licensed plumbers who seem to have a good reputation, search online for the company name and the names of individuals at the company, if known. Take into account both the positive and negative information that you find about the company.

Be aware that good plumbers sometimes have a backlog of several days during peak times when there are low temperatures, heavy rainfall or holidays. Sometimes heavy demand can be a sign of a company with lots of repeat customers.

15I suspect that there could be tree roots or another solid object in my building's drain pipes.
  • Yes, there are large trees growing outside, close to the problem area, or I believe that a solid object might be stuck in the drain line
  • No signs of tree roots or a solid object
16To Clean an Outdoor Drain Blocked By Tree Roots or a Solid Object If you suspect that your outdoor drain could have tree roots or another solid object clogging the line, and you believe that the drain is in good physical condition, the best solution is usually to use a large drum auger (also called an electric sewer snake or rooter) with a root cutting blade to clear the line, or to hire a licensed plumber to do the job.

To Use a Large Drum Auger

Drum AugerElectric-powered drum augers can range in cost from under $500 for entry-level machines with around 50 feet of cable, to well over $2,000 for professional quality machines with longer reach. In most areas you can rent a professional-quality drum auger with a 100-foot cable for around $100 per day.

Before choosing to rent a large drum auger
, be aware that machines with 100 feet of cable can weigh well over 150 lbs. and have likely been exposed to sewage on previous jobs. You will need a vehicle with a large, protected cargo area that's easily cleaned. You may also need tie-downs, along with a strong helper to move the rooter.

Before you begin, locate the drain opening closest to the problem area and an alternate opening on the opposite side of the clog if available. Measure from the problem area to both openings to determine the length of drain auger cable you will need, then call the rental store to confirm availability of a snake with a long enough cable. Ask for the make and model of the drain cleaner, and before you go to the store find and read the user's guide online – including all safety information. If the guide is not available online, ask the shop for the user's guide and safety instructions.

Important: turning auger cables can create powerful cutting force, so you'll want to always read and follow safety instructions for the machine. Always wear thick work gloves, eye protection and protective clothing when operating the machine.

When you're at the rental shop, check make sure that different root cutting blades are included with the rental, and inspect the drum, motor, controls, and all visible portions of the cable for any excessive wear that could signal problems with the equipment.

If you're not comfortable that you can safely complete the job, consider hiring a licensed plumber.

To Find a Good Licensed PlumberPlumber's Van

Start by asking family, friends and co-workers to recommend a licensed plumber who has performed similar repairs for them.

If you are unable to find a good recommendation from someone you know, next search local directories like Google Maps, Yelp and CitySearch for licensed plumbers nearby who have good online reviews. Don't always trust reviews from individuals who have very few other reviews, or from people who give only positive reviews to everyone. Be aware that good service providers sometimes get a small number of negative reviews for reasons that might not be relevant to your situation. Look for a company with several reviews that tell a positive, believable story about repairs that are similar to yours.

After you find one or more licensed plumbers who seem to have a good reputation, search online for the company name and the names of individuals at the company, if known. Take into account both the positive and negative information that you find about the company.

Be aware that good plumbers sometimes have a backlog of several days during peak times when there are low temperatures, heavy rainfall or holidays. Sometimes heavy demand can be a sign of a company with lots of repeat customers.

17If You're Not Comfortable Cleaning the Outdoor Drain Yourself If you're not comfortable cleaning an outdoor drain line yourself, here are tips to find a good plumber.

To Find a Good Licensed PlumberPlumber's Van

Start by asking family, friends and co-workers to recommend a licensed plumber who has performed similar repairs for them.

If you are unable to find a good recommendation from someone you know, next search local directories like Google Maps, Yelp and CitySearch for licensed plumbers nearby who have good online reviews. Don't always trust reviews from individuals who have very few other reviews, or from people who give only positive reviews to everyone. Be aware that good service providers sometimes get a small number of negative reviews for reasons that might not be relevant to your situation. Look for a company with several reviews that tell a positive, believable story about repairs that are similar to yours.

After you find one or more licensed plumbers who seem to have a good reputation, search online for the company name and the names of individuals at the company, if known. Take into account both the positive and negative information that you find about the company.

Be aware that good plumbers sometimes have a backlog of several days during peak times when there are low temperatures, heavy rainfall or holidays. Sometimes heavy demand can be a sign of a company with lots of repeat customers.

18If You Suspect that a Section of Your Outdoor Drain Might Be Separated, Cracked or Collapsed If there are symptoms that portions of your outdoor drain might be separated, cracked or collapsed - for example, if there are frequent clogs deep in the line and you have had difficulty passing a sewer snake through - your best solution is usually to hire a licensed plumber to inspect the drain with a video camera before cleaning the line. Cleaning a damaged outdoor drain line yourself, without first inspecting the lines, could lead to additional problems.

To Find a Good Licensed PlumberPlumber's Van

Start by asking family, friends and co-workers to recommend a licensed plumber who has performed similar repairs for them.

If you are unable to find a good recommendation from someone you know, next search local directories like Google Maps, Yelp and CitySearch for licensed plumbers nearby who have good online reviews. Don't always trust reviews from individuals who have very few other reviews, or from people who give only positive reviews to everyone. Be aware that good service providers sometimes get a small number of negative reviews for reasons that might not be relevant to your situation. Look for a company with several reviews that tell a positive, believable story about repairs that are similar to yours.

After you find one or more licensed plumbers who seem to have a good reputation, search online for the company name and the names of individuals at the company, if known. Take into account both the positive and negative information that you find about the company.

Be aware that good plumbers sometimes have a backlog of several days during peak times when there are low temperatures, heavy rainfall or holidays. Sometimes heavy demand can be a sign of a company with lots of repeat customers.

19I am comfortable using power equipment to clean the outdoor drain myself.
  • Yes, I am comfortable cleaning the drain myself
  • No or don't know
20I have already tried a handheld toilet auger to clear the toilet clog.
  • Yes, I have already tried a toilet auger
  • No, I haven't tried a toilet auger
21Try an Accordion-Style Toilet Plunger Toilet PlungerAn accordion-style (or "high efficiency") plunger is often your least expensive solution to clear a clogged or slow-running toilet. Look for a plunger that's designed just for toilets, with an extended flange (that is, a round, lip-shaped reducer) at the bottom of the plunger to seal against the drain opening at the bottom of the toilet bowl. Accordion-style toilet plungers can be purchased online and in many hardware stores for around $10.

Before you begin, you may need to use a bucket to partially drain the toilet if the water level is close to the rim. Check to make sure the bottom of the plunger seals tightly against the opening at the bottom of the bowl.

Use extra caution and wear fluid resistant gloves and eye protection when working on any plumbing fixture where chemical drain cleaners may have been used.

22I have already tried a handheld drum auger to clear the sink clog.
  • Yes, I have already tried a handheld drum auger
  • No, I haven't yet tried this
23Try an Accordion-Style Sink Plunger Sink, Bath, and Shower PlungerAn accordion-style (or "high efficiency") plunger is often your least expensive solution to clear a clogged or slow-running sink. Look for a plunger that's designed for sinks and showers, with a broad circular base to seal against the drain opening. Accordion-style toilet plungers can be purchased online and in many hardware stores for around $10.

Before you begin, you may need to use a bucket to partially drain the sink if the water level is close to the top and you don't see an overflow opening near the sink rim. Check to make sure the bottom of the plunger seals tightly against the drain opening.

Use extra caution and wear fluid resistant gloves and eye protection when working on any plumbing fixture where chemical drain cleaners may have been used.

24I have already tried a handheld drum auger to clear the bathtub or shower clog.
  • Yes, I have already tried a handheld drum auger
  • No, I haven't yet tried this
25Try an Accordion-Style Plunger to Clear a Shower or Bath Drain Sink, Bath, and Shower PlungerAn accordion-style (or "high efficiency") plunger is often your least expensive solution to clear a clogged or slow-running shower or bath drain. Look for a plunger that's designed for sink, shower and bath drains, with a broad circular base to seal against the drain opening. Accordion-style toilet plungers can be purchased online and in many hardware stores for around $10.

Before you begin, check to make sure the bottom of the plunger seals tightly against the drain opening.

Use extra caution and wear fluid resistant gloves and eye protection when working on any plumbing fixture where chemical drain cleaners may have been used.

26Try Cleaning the Laundry Drain Through an Alternate Drain Opening If you've already tried a handheld drum auger to unclog your laundry drain, you may need to find an alternate drain opening to access the problem area. If you can find an indoor drain cleanout near the clog or a drain opening that's upstream, try running the handheld drain auger through that opening.

Clog Hog Sewer JetterIf you can't find a good, alternate indoor opening close to the clog, you can try running a sewer jetter or electric drain auger from a main drain cleanout that's outside the building foundation or in a basement, or run the jetter or auger down a roof vent that joins the main drain line upstream of the problem area. For more information about using a sewer jetter, download the free Sewer Jetter Guide.

Always read and follow the drain cleaning tool's safety instructions, then put on work gloves and eye protection before you begin. When cleaning a main drain from a roof vent you should always be extra careful to maintain a stable footing. Consider hiring a licensed plumber if you are concerned about performing any of these steps safely.

To Find a Good Licensed PlumberPlumber's Van

Start by asking family, friends and co-workers to recommend a licensed plumber who has performed similar repairs for them.

If you are unable to find a good recommendation from someone you know, next search local directories like Google Maps, Yelp and CitySearch for licensed plumbers nearby who have good online reviews. Don't always trust reviews from individuals who have very few other reviews, or from people who give only positive reviews to everyone. Be aware that good service providers sometimes get a small number of negative reviews for reasons that might not be relevant to your situation. Look for a company with several reviews that tell a positive, believable story about repairs that are similar to yours.

After you find one or more licensed plumbers who seem to have a good reputation, search online for the company name and the names of individuals at the company, if known. Take into account both the positive and negative information that you find about the company.

Be aware that good plumbers sometimes have a backlog of several days during peak times when there are low temperatures, heavy rainfall or holidays. Sometimes heavy demand can be a sign of a company with lots of repeat customers.

27Try a Handheld Drum Auger to Unclog a Laundry Drain Handheld Drum AugerIf the clog is only in a single laundry drain, the first choice is usually to try a handheld drum auger since this tool is inexpensive and the tip can often pass through the small-diameter trap and elbow that's usually in the line.

A 25 foot handheld drum auger for home use can be purchased for around $30. To use a handheld drum auger:

1. Unplug the washing machine and remove the washing machine drain hose from the laundry drain opening.

2. Cover the nearby wall and floor with large towels or a plastic drop cloth to keep the area clean.

3. Read and follow the drum auger safety instructions, then put on work gloves and eye protection.

4. Feed the auger into the drain, turning the drum in a clockwise direction as needed to pass the auger tip through elbows and obstructions.

5. After you have inserted the drum auger all the way into the drain, feed the auger cable back into the drum.

6. Clean the wall and floor area, reconnect the washing machine drain line and power plug, and slide the washing machine back into place.

28Try Cleaning the Floor Drain Through an Alternate Drain Opening If you've already tried a handheld drum auger to unclog your floor drain, you may need to find an alternate drain opening to access the problem area. If you can find an indoor drain cleanout near the clog or a drain opening that's upstream, try running the handheld drain auger through that opening.

Clog Hog Sewer JetterIf you can't find a good, alternate indoor opening close to the clog, you can try running a sewer jetter or electric drain auger from a main drain cleanout that's outside the building foundation or in a basement, or run the jetter or auger down a roof vent that joins the main drain line upstream of the problem area. For more information about using a sewer jetter, download the free Sewer Jetter Guide.

Always read and follow the drain cleaning tool's safety instructions, then put on work gloves and eye protection before you begin. When cleaning a main drain from a roof vent you should always be extra careful to maintain a stable footing. Consider hiring a licensed plumber if you are concerned about performing any of these steps safely.

To Find a Good Licensed PlumberPlumber's Van

Start by asking family, friends and co-workers to recommend a licensed plumber who has performed similar repairs for them.

If you are unable to find a good recommendation from someone you know, next search local directories like Google Maps, Yelp and CitySearch for licensed plumbers nearby who have good online reviews. Don't always trust reviews from individuals who have very few other reviews, or from people who give only positive reviews to everyone. Be aware that good service providers sometimes get a small number of negative reviews for reasons that might not be relevant to your situation. Look for a company with several reviews that tell a positive, believable story about repairs that are similar to yours.

After you find one or more licensed plumbers who seem to have a good reputation, search online for the company name and the names of individuals at the company, if known. Take into account both the positive and negative information that you find about the company.

Be aware that good plumbers sometimes have a backlog of several days during peak times when there are low temperatures, heavy rainfall or holidays. Sometimes heavy demand can be a sign of a company with lots of repeat customers.

29Try a Handheld Drum Auger to Unclog a Floor Drain Handheld Drum AugerIf the clog is only in a single floor drain, the first choice is usually to try a handheld drum auger since this tool is inexpensive and the tip can often pass through the small-diameter trap and elbow that's usually in the line.

A 25 foot handheld drum auger for home use can be purchased for around $30. To use a handheld drum auger:

1. Cover the nearby wall and floor with large towels or a plastic drop cloth to keep the area clean.

2. Read and follow the drum auger safety instructions, then put on work gloves and eye protection.

3. Feed the auger into the drain, turning the drum in a clockwise direction as needed to pass the auger tip through elbows and obstructions.

4. After you have inserted the drum auger all the way into the drain, feed the auger cable back into the drum.

5. Clean the surrounding floor area as needed.

30To Unclog an Inside Drain that's 2-1/2 Inch ID or Less Handheld Drum AugerIf the clog is only in a single drain opening that's 2-1/2 inches or less in inside diameter (ID), the first choice is usually to try a handheld drum auger since this tool is inexpensive and the tip can often pass through the small-diameter trap and elbow that's usually in the line.

A 25 foot handheld drum auger for home use can be purchased for around $30. To use a handheld drum auger:

1. Cover nearby surfaces with large towels or a plastic drop cloth to keep the area clean.

2. Read and follow the drum auger safety instructions, then put on work gloves and eye protection.

3. Feed the auger into the drain, turning the drum in a clockwise direction as needed to pass the auger tip through elbows and obstructions.

4. After you have inserted the drum auger all the way into the drain, feed the auger cable back into the drum and then clean the surrounding wall and floor areas, if needed.

If the Clog Doesn't Clear

If you're unable to remove the clog by running a handheld drum auger directly into the drain opening, you may need to find an alternate drain opening to access the problem area. If you can find an indoor drain cleanout near the clog or a drain opening that's upstream, try running the handheld drain auger through that opening.

Clog Hog Sewer JetterIf you can't find a good, alternate indoor opening close to the clog, you can try running a sewer jetter or electric drain auger from a main drain cleanout that's outside the building foundation or in a basement, or run the jetter or auger down a roof vent that joins the main drain line upstream of the problem area. For more information about using a sewer jetter, download the free Sewer Jetter Guide.

Always read and follow the drain cleaning tool's safety instructions, then put on work gloves and eye protection before you begin. When cleaning a main drain from a roof vent you should always be extra careful to maintain a stable footing. Consider hiring a licensed plumber if you are concerned about performing any of these steps safely.

To Find a Good Licensed PlumberPlumber's Van

Start by asking family, friends and co-workers to recommend a licensed plumber who has performed similar repairs for them.

If you are unable to find a good recommendation from someone you know, next search local directories like Google Maps, Yelp and CitySearch for licensed plumbers nearby who have good online reviews. Don't always trust reviews from individuals who have very few other reviews, or from people who give only positive reviews to everyone. Be aware that good service providers sometimes get a small number of negative reviews for reasons that might not be relevant to your situation. Look for a company with several reviews that tell a positive, believable story about repairs that are similar to yours.

After you find one or more licensed plumbers who seem to have a good reputation, search online for the company name and the names of individuals at the company, if known. Take into account both the positive and negative information that you find about the company.

Be aware that good plumbers sometimes have a backlog of several days during peak times when there are low temperatures, heavy rainfall or holidays. Sometimes heavy demand can be a sign of a company with lots of repeat customers.

31To Unclog an Inside Drain that's Over 2-1/2 Inch ID Clog Hog Sewer JetterTo clean an indoor drain that's over 2-1/2 inches in inside diameter (ID), try running a sewer jetter or electric drain auger through the opening. For more information about using a sewer jetter, download the free Sewer Jetter Guide.

Always read and follow the drain cleaning tool's safety instructions, then put on work gloves and eye protection before you begin. Consider hiring a licensed plumber if you are concerned about performing the job safely.

To Find a Good Licensed PlumberPlumber's Van

Start by asking family, friends and co-workers to recommend a licensed plumber who has performed similar repairs for them.

If you are unable to find a good recommendation from someone you know, next search local directories like Google Maps, Yelp and CitySearch for licensed plumbers nearby who have good online reviews. Don't always trust reviews from individuals who have very few other reviews, or from people who give only positive reviews to everyone. Be aware that good service providers sometimes get a small number of negative reviews for reasons that might not be relevant to your situation. Look for a company with several reviews that tell a positive, believable story about repairs that are similar to yours.

After you find one or more licensed plumbers who seem to have a good reputation, search online for the company name and the names of individuals at the company, if known. Take into account both the positive and negative information that you find about the company.

Be aware that good plumbers sometimes have a backlog of several days during peak times when there are low temperatures, heavy rainfall or holidays. Sometimes heavy demand can be a sign of a company with lots of repeat customers.

32If You Suspect Tree Roots or a Solid Object In Your Building Drain If you suspect that your main drain could have tree roots or another solid object clogging the line, and you believe that the drain is in good physical condition, the best solution is usually to use a large drum auger (also called an electric sewer snake or rooter) with a root cutting blade to clear the line, or to hire a licensed plumber to do the job.

To Use a Large Drum Auger

Drum AugerElectric-powered drum augers can range in cost from under $500 for entry-level machines with around 50 feet of cable, to well over $2,000 for professional quality machines with longer reach. In most areas you can rent a professional-quality drum auger with a 100-foot cable for around $100 per day.

Before choosing to rent a large drum auger
, be aware that machines with 100 feet of cable can weigh well over 150 lbs. and have likely been exposed to sewage on previous jobs. You will need a vehicle with a large, protected cargo area that's easily cleaned. You may also need tie-downs, along with a strong helper to move the rooter.

Before you begin, locate the main drain cleanout for the building, usually found outside within 2-3 feet of your foundation, or in a basement. Estimate the distance from the cleanout to the problem area, then call the rental store to confirm availability of a snake with a long enough cable. Ask for the make and model of the drain cleaner, and before you go to the store find and read the user's guide online – including all safety information. If the guide is not available online, ask the shop for the user's guide and safety instructions.

Important: turning auger cables can create powerful cutting force, so you'll want to always read and follow safety instructions for the machine. Always wear thick work gloves, eye protection and protective clothing when operating the machine.

When you're at the rental shop, check make sure that different root cutting blades are included with the rental, and inspect the drum, motor, controls, and all visible portions of the cable for any excessive wear that could signal problems with the equipment.

If you're not comfortable that you can safely complete the job, consider hiring a licensed plumber.

To Find a Good Licensed PlumberPlumber's Van

Start by asking family, friends and co-workers to recommend a licensed plumber who has performed similar repairs for them.

If you are unable to find a good recommendation from someone you know, next search local directories like Google Maps, Yelp and CitySearch for licensed plumbers nearby who have good online reviews. Don't always trust reviews from individuals who have very few other reviews, or from people who give only positive reviews to everyone. Be aware that good service providers sometimes get a small number of negative reviews for reasons that might not be relevant to your situation. Look for a company with several reviews that tell a positive, believable story about repairs that are similar to yours.

After you find one or more licensed plumbers who seem to have a good reputation, search online for the company name and the names of individuals at the company, if known. Take into account both the positive and negative information that you find about the company.

Be aware that good plumbers sometimes have a backlog of several days during peak times when there are low temperatures, heavy rainfall or holidays. Sometimes heavy demand can be a sign of a company with lots of repeat customers.

33Portions of my drains could be ceramic or Orangeburg (wood composite) material often found in historic homes.
  • Yes, portions of the drain might be ceramic or wood composite, or I'm unsure
  • No, there are only PVC (plastic) or metal drains in the building
34My clog is in a:
  • Sewer drain that runs from my building to a city sewer line or septic tank
  • Septic system or leach field
  • Landscaping, agricultural drain (including flexible corrugated plastic), or gutter drain line
  • Drain tile (or "French drain") that surrounds my building
  • Swimming pool drain
  • Other type of outdoor drain
35If You're Uncomfortable Cleaning an Outdoor Drain Yourself Consider hiring a licensed plumber if you are not comfortable cleaning an outdoor drain yourself.

To Find a Good Licensed PlumberPlumber's Van

Start by asking family, friends and co-workers to recommend a licensed plumber who has performed similar repairs for them.

If you are unable to find a good recommendation from someone you know, next search local directories like Google Maps, Yelp and CitySearch for licensed plumbers nearby who have good online reviews. Don't always trust reviews from individuals who have very few other reviews, or from people who give only positive reviews to everyone. Be aware that good service providers sometimes get a small number of negative reviews for reasons that might not be relevant to your situation. Look for a company with several reviews that tell a positive, believable story about repairs that are similar to yours.

After you find one or more licensed plumbers who seem to have a good reputation, search online for the company name and the names of individuals at the company, if known. Take into account both the positive and negative information that you find about the company.

Be aware that good plumbers sometimes have a backlog of several days during peak times when there are low temperatures, heavy rainfall or holidays. Sometimes heavy demand can be a sign of a company with lots of repeat customers.

36To Clear a Clogged Toilet if You've Already Tried a Toilet Auger If you've already tried a toilet auger to unclog your toilet, you may need to find an alternate drain opening to access the problem area. If you can find an indoor drain cleanout near the clog or a drain opening that's upstream, try running a handheld drain auger through that opening.

Clog Hog Sewer JetterIf you can't find a good, alternate indoor opening close to the clog, you can try running a sewer jetter or electric drain auger from a main drain cleanout that's outside the building foundation or in a basement, or run the jetter or auger down a roof vent that joins the main drain line upstream of the problem area.

You can buy a sewer jetter for your pressure washer starting at $99, or in most areas you can rent a professional-quality electric auger for around $100 per day. For more information about using a sewer jetter, download the free Sewer Jetter Guide.

You should never run a sewer jetter or electric auger directly into a toilet bowl, since these will scratch the visible ceramic and could get stuck inside the toilet trap. Always read and follow the drain cleaning tool's safety instructions, then put on work gloves and eye protection before you begin. When cleaning a main drain from a roof vent you should always be extra careful to maintain a stable footing.

Note that removing the toilet, checking for solid objects stuck in the toilet trap, running a sewer jetter or mechanical drain snake through the drain opening in the floor, and then reinstalling the toilet is usually the most time-consuming option but might be necessary if no good, alternate opening can be found. Consider hiring a licensed plumber if you are concerned about performing any of these steps safely.

To Find a Good Licensed PlumberPlumber's Van

Start by asking family, friends and co-workers to recommend a licensed plumber who has performed similar repairs for them.

If you are unable to find a good recommendation from someone you know, next search local directories like Google Maps, Yelp and CitySearch for licensed plumbers nearby who have good online reviews. Don't always trust reviews from individuals who have very few other reviews, or from people who give only positive reviews to everyone. Be aware that good service providers sometimes get a small number of negative reviews for reasons that might not be relevant to your situation. Look for a company with several reviews that tell a positive, believable story about repairs that are similar to yours.

After you find one or more licensed plumbers who seem to have a good reputation, search online for the company name and the names of individuals at the company, if known. Take into account both the positive and negative information that you find about the company.

Be aware that good plumbers sometimes have a backlog of several days during peak times when there are low temperatures, heavy rainfall or holidays. Sometimes heavy demand can be a sign of a company with lots of repeat customers.

37Try a Handheld Toilet Auger Toilet AugerA toilet auger (or "closet auger") is a hand-held snake, typically with 3 feet to 6 feet of cleaning cable, and a curved, plastic elbow sleeve to help you avoid scratching the visible ceramic surface of the bowl. A toilet auger with a cable that can telescope to 6 feet in length can be purchased online and in many hardware stores for under $50.

When using a toilet auger, use care to insert the plastic sleeve into the opening at the bottom of the bowl before you extend the cable, and always keep the protective sleeve pressed firmly inside the opening to avoid scratching the visible ceramic.

Press down and rotate the toilet auger handle to extend the auger cable through the toilet trap. Avoid using too much force so that you do not kink or knot the cable.

It may take several attempts to fully clear the clog. Falling and siphoning water in the toilet bowl is an indication that the blockage has cleared. Use care as you pull out the cable to avoid scratching the visible ceramic in the bowl.

Use extra caution and wear fluid resistant gloves and eye protection when working on any plumbing fixture where chemical drain cleaners may have been used.

38To Clear a Sink If You've Already Tried a Handheld Drum Auger If you've already tried a handheld drum auger to unclog your sink, you may need to find an alternate drain opening to access the problem area. If you can find an indoor drain cleanout near the clog or a drain opening that's upstream, try running the handheld drain auger through that opening.

Clog Hog Sewer JetterIf you can't find a good, alternate indoor opening close to the clog, you can try running a sewer jetter or electric drain auger from a main drain cleanout that's outside the building foundation or in a basement, or run the jetter or auger down a roof vent that joins the main drain line upstream of the problem area.

Sewer Jetting Under a SinkYou can also try removing the sink trap and running a sewer jetter or electric drain cleaner into the opening under the sink, but you should have an alternate drain opening ready since it can sometimes be difficult for these types of drain cleaners to pass through the tight elbows sometimes found in smaller, lateral drain lines.

You can buy a sewer jetter for your pressure washer starting at $99, or in most areas you can rent a professional-quality electric auger for around $100 per day. For more information about using a sewer jetter, download the free Sewer Jetter Guide.

Always read and follow the drain cleaning tool's safety instructions, then put on work gloves and eye protection before you begin. When cleaning a main drain from a roof vent you should always be extra careful to maintain a stable footing. Consider hiring a licensed plumber if you are concerned about performing any of these steps safely.

To Find a Good Licensed PlumberPlumber's Van

Start by asking family, friends and co-workers to recommend a licensed plumber who has performed similar repairs for them.

If you are unable to find a good recommendation from someone you know, next search local directories like Google Maps, Yelp and CitySearch for licensed plumbers nearby who have good online reviews. Don't always trust reviews from individuals who have very few other reviews, or from people who give only positive reviews to everyone. Be aware that good service providers sometimes get a small number of negative reviews for reasons that might not be relevant to your situation. Look for a company with several reviews that tell a positive, believable story about repairs that are similar to yours.

After you find one or more licensed plumbers who seem to have a good reputation, search online for the company name and the names of individuals at the company, if known. Take into account both the positive and negative information that you find about the company.

Be aware that good plumbers sometimes have a backlog of several days during peak times when there are low temperatures, heavy rainfall or holidays. Sometimes heavy demand can be a sign of a company with lots of repeat customers.

39Try a Handheld Drum Auger to Unclog a Sink Handheld Drum AugerIf the clog is only in a single plumbing fixture such as a sink, a good choice is usually to try a handheld drum auger since this tool is inexpensive and the tip can often pass through the small-diameter trap and elbow in the line.

A 25 foot handheld drum auger for home use can be purchased for around $30. To use a handheld drum auger:

1. Read and follow the drum auger safety instructions, then put on work gloves and eye protection.

2. Remove the sink stopper, if present, and then feed the auger into the drain by locking the cable, turning the drum in a clockwise direction, and then unlocking and feeding the cable as needed to pass the auger tip through elbows and obstructions. If you have difficulty passing the cable through the sink trap, it may be easier to remove the trap and insert the auger directly into the drain opening underneath the sink.

3. After you have inserted the drum auger all the way into the drain, feed the auger cable back into the drum. It may take several attempts to completely clear the clog.

Use extra caution when working on any plumbing fixture where chemical drain cleaners may have been used so that you avoid splashing liquid on yourself and surrounding areas.

40To Clear a Bath or Shower Clog if You've Already Tried a Handheld Drum Auger If you've already tried a handheld drum auger to unclog your bath or shower drain, you may need to find an alternate drain opening to access the problem area. If you can find an indoor drain cleanout near the clog or a drain opening that's upstream, try running the handheld drain auger through that opening.

Clog Hog Sewer JetterIf you can't find a good, alternate indoor opening close to the clog, you can try running a sewer jetter or electric drain auger from a main drain cleanout that's outside the building foundation or in a basement, or run the jetter or auger down a roof vent that joins the main drain line upstream of the problem area.

You can buy a sewer jetter for your pressure washer starting at $99, or in most areas you can rent a professional-quality electric auger for around $100 per day. For more information about using a sewer jetter, download the free Sewer Jetter Guide.

Always read and follow the drain cleaning tool's safety instructions, then put on work gloves and eye protection before you begin. When cleaning a main drain from a roof vent you should always be extra careful to maintain a stable footing. Consider hiring a licensed plumber if you are concerned about performing any of these steps safely.

To Find a Good Licensed PlumberPlumber's Van

Start by asking family, friends and co-workers to recommend a licensed plumber who has performed similar repairs for them.

If you are unable to find a good recommendation from someone you know, next search local directories like Google Maps, Yelp and CitySearch for licensed plumbers nearby who have good online reviews. Don't always trust reviews from individuals who have very few other reviews, or from people who give only positive reviews to everyone. Be aware that good service providers sometimes get a small number of negative reviews for reasons that might not be relevant to your situation. Look for a company with several reviews that tell a positive, believable story about repairs that are similar to yours.

After you find one or more licensed plumbers who seem to have a good reputation, search online for the company name and the names of individuals at the company, if known. Take into account both the positive and negative information that you find about the company.

Be aware that good plumbers sometimes have a backlog of several days during peak times when there are low temperatures, heavy rainfall or holidays. Sometimes heavy demand can be a sign of a company with lots of repeat customers.

41Try a Handheld Drum Auger to Clear a Bath or Shower Drain Handheld Drum AugerIf the clog is only in a single bathtub or shower drain, a good choice is usually to try a handheld drum auger since this tool is inexpensive and the tip can often pass through the small-diameter trap and elbow in the drain.

A 25 foot handheld drum auger for home use can be purchased for around $30. To use a handheld drum auger:

1. Read and follow the drum auger safety instructions, then put on work gloves and eye protection.

2. When cleaning a clogged bathtub, remove the overflow cap under the faucet and run the snake directly into the cleanout opening underneath the cover. When cleaning a clogged shower drain you should gently remove the drain cover with a screwdriver before you begin.

2. Feed the auger into the drain opening by locking the cable, turning the drum in a clockwise direction, and then unlocking and feeding the cable as needed to pass the auger tip through elbows and obstructions.

3. After you have inserted the drum auger cable all the way into the drain, feed the cable back into the drum. It may take several attempts to completely clear the clog.

Use extra caution when working on any plumbing fixture where chemical drain cleaners may have been used so that you avoid splashing liquid on yourself and surrounding areas.

42If Portions of Your Drain Could Be Ceramic or Orangepipe (Wood Composite) Material If you suspect that portions of your drain could be ceramic or Orangepipe (wood composite) material, your best solution is usually to hire a licensed plumber to inspect the drain with a video camera before cleaning the line. Cleaning an indoor ceramic or Orangeipe drain yourself, without first inspecting the lines, could lead to additional problems.

To Find a Good Licensed PlumberPlumber's Van

Start by asking family, friends and co-workers to recommend a licensed plumber who has performed similar repairs for them.

If you are unable to find a good recommendation from someone you know, next search local directories like Google Maps, Yelp and CitySearch for licensed plumbers nearby who have good online reviews. Don't always trust reviews from individuals who have very few other reviews, or from people who give only positive reviews to everyone. Be aware that good service providers sometimes get a small number of negative reviews for reasons that might not be relevant to your situation. Look for a company with several reviews that tell a positive, believable story about repairs that are similar to yours.

After you find one or more licensed plumbers who seem to have a good reputation, search online for the company name and the names of individuals at the company, if known. Take into account both the positive and negative information that you find about the company.

Be aware that good plumbers sometimes have a backlog of several days during peak times when there are low temperatures, heavy rainfall or holidays. Sometimes heavy demand can be a sign of a company with lots of repeat customers.

43I am comfortable using power equipment to clean the drain myself.
  • Yes, I'm comfortable using power equipment to clean the drain
  • No or don't know
44The distance from the problem area to the nearest cleanout or drain opening is:
  • 100 feet or less
  • More than 100 feet
45To Unclog a Septic System or Leach Field Clog Hog Sewer JetterA sewer jetter is often a good option to remove clogs and improve the flow in a septic system or leach field, since pressurized water spray from the jetter nozzle can remove sticky build up that accumulates in the perforations of septic drain pipes.

You can buy a sewer jetter for your pressure washer starting at $99. For more information about using a sewer jetter, download the free Sewer Jetter Guide.

Important: the jetter must be able to reach the problem area without passing through too many drain elbows, and jetters can sometimes have difficulty passing through a small-diameter or tight radius bend. There must also be a clear path for sediment to flush out of the system after it's dislodged by the jetter. Note that sewer jetters aren't recommended for septic systems made with ceramic pipes sometimes found on historic properties.

If you're unsure about your application you can contact us.

46To Unclog A Landscaping, Agricultural Drain (Including Corrugated Plastic), Or Gutter Drain Line If you can access a drain opening within 100 feet of the problem area in a landscaping drain (including flexible corrugated plastic pipes) or a gutter drain line, and you believe the pipes are in good physical condition and don't have tree roots or solid objects in the line, your best choice to unclog the drain is usually a sewer jetter that's powered by your pressure washer.

Clog Hog Sewer JetterThat's because a sewer jetter can flush away sediment and small debris that other types of cleaners leave behind. Note that a sewer jetter that's powered by a pressure washer can't break apart tree roots or other solid objects, and requires a clear path for sediment to flush away. Therefore it's usually best to clear landscaping drains from an opening downhill from the problem area. Because yard sediment is often heavier than indoor plumbing waste, in most cases you'll want to use a gas-powered pressure washer rated 2.0 GPM or more for the job.

You can buy sewer jetter for your pressure washer starting at $99. For more information about using a sewer jetter, download the free Sewer Jetter Guide.

Always read and follow the drain cleaning tool's safety instructions, then put on work gloves and eye protection before you begin. And, if you're not comfortable using a pressure washer or cleaning your drain, consider hiring a licensed plumber.

To Find a Good Licensed PlumberPlumber's Van

Start by asking family, friends and co-workers to recommend a licensed plumber who has performed similar repairs for them.

If you are unable to find a good recommendation from someone you know, next search local directories like Google Maps, Yelp and CitySearch for licensed plumbers nearby who have good online reviews. Don't always trust reviews from individuals who have very few other reviews, or from people who give only positive reviews to everyone. Be aware that good service providers sometimes get a small number of negative reviews for reasons that might not be relevant to your situation. Look for a company with several reviews that tell a positive, believable story about repairs that are similar to yours.

After you find one or more licensed plumbers who seem to have a good reputation, search online for the company name and the names of individuals at the company, if known. Take into account both the positive and negative information that you find about the company.

Be aware that good plumbers sometimes have a backlog of several days during peak times when there are low temperatures, heavy rainfall or holidays. Sometimes heavy demand can be a sign of a company with lots of repeat customers.

47To Unclog A Drain Tile (or "French Drain") If you can access a drain opening within 100 feet of the problem area in a drain tile (also called a French drain), your best choice to unclog the drain is usually a sewer jetter.

Clog Hog Sewer JetterThat's because pressurized water spray from the sewer jetter nozzle can flush away build-up in perforated drain pipes that other cleaners leave behind. You can buy a sewer jetter for your pressure washer starting at $99. For more information about using a sewer jetter, download the free Sewer Jetter Guide.

Important: the jetter must be able to reach the problem area without passing through too many drain elbows, and jetters can sometimes have difficulty passing through a small-diameter or tight radius bend. There must also be a clear path for sediment to flush out of the system after it's dislodged by the jetter.

If you're unsure about your application you can contact us.

48To Unclog A Swimming Pool Drain Swimming Pool and Sewer Drain ElbowsSwimming pool drain lines are often built with small diameter PVC pipes that are designed for cold water supply. The sharp, 90 degree elbows in swimming pool drains can easily clog when leaves and other sediment enter the line.

Unfortunately, it's almost impossible to pass sewer jetters and most mechanical drain augers through the sharp, small radius bends in swimming pool drains.

If you believe that the swimming pool drain line is in good enough condition to hold its rated household water pressure, you can try a drain cleaning bladder to force sediment through the line. Drain cleaning bladders can be purchased online and at local hardware stores for under $20.

49To Unclog Other Types Of Outdoor Drain If you need to clean a type of outdoor drain that's not listed on this page, please contact us for assistance.

50I know the location of the main drain cleanout that's outside the building foundation or in a basement.
  • Yes, I know the location of a cleanout opening
  • No or don't know
51If You're Not Comfortable Cleaning the Drain Yourself If you're not comfortable cleaning the drain yourself, consider hiring a licensed plumber.

To Find a Good Licensed PlumberPlumber's Van

Start by asking family, friends and co-workers to recommend a licensed plumber who has performed similar repairs for them.

If you are unable to find a good recommendation from someone you know, next search local directories like Google Maps, Yelp and CitySearch for licensed plumbers nearby who have good online reviews. Don't always trust reviews from individuals who have very few other reviews, or from people who give only positive reviews to everyone. Be aware that good service providers sometimes get a small number of negative reviews for reasons that might not be relevant to your situation. Look for a company with several reviews that tell a positive, believable story about repairs that are similar to yours.

After you find one or more licensed plumbers who seem to have a good reputation, search online for the company name and the names of individuals at the company, if known. Take into account both the positive and negative information that you find about the company.

Be aware that good plumbers sometimes have a backlog of several days during peak times when there are low temperatures, heavy rainfall or holidays. Sometimes heavy demand can be a sign of a company with lots of repeat customers.

52Try a Sewer Jetter Or Mechanical Auger to Clean the Outdoor Drain Clog Hog Sewer JetterIf the distance from the nearest cleanout opening to the problem area in a drain line is 100 feet or less, and you believe the drain pipe is in good physical condition, you can try using a sewer jetter or electric auger to clear the line. Sewer jetters can have the advantage of scrubbing off sticky build-up on pipe walls and flushing away sediment to reduce the need for future cleaning.

You can buy a sewer jetter for your pressure washer starting at $99, or in most areas you can rent a professional-quality electric auger for around $100 per day. For more information about using a sewer jetter, download the free Sewer Jetter Guide.

It's usually easiest to run a sewer jetter in an uphill direction, starting from a drain opening that's downstream of the problem area. This helps ensure there's a clear path for debris to flush away, and can allow you to look inside the drain opening to judge when the line has been cleared of sediment.

Always read and follow the drain cleaning tool's safety instructions, then put on work gloves and eye protection before you begin.

53To Clean an Outdoor Drain if the Distance is Over 100 Feet If the distance from the nearest drain opening to the problem area in an outdoor drain is over 100 feet, consider contacting a licensed plumber for help.

To Find a Good Licensed PlumberPlumber's Van

Start by asking family, friends and co-workers to recommend a licensed plumber who has performed similar repairs for them.

If you are unable to find a good recommendation from someone you know, next search local directories like Google Maps, Yelp and CitySearch for licensed plumbers nearby who have good online reviews. Don't always trust reviews from individuals who have very few other reviews, or from people who give only positive reviews to everyone. Be aware that good service providers sometimes get a small number of negative reviews for reasons that might not be relevant to your situation. Look for a company with several reviews that tell a positive, believable story about repairs that are similar to yours.

After you find one or more licensed plumbers who seem to have a good reputation, search online for the company name and the names of individuals at the company, if known. Take into account both the positive and negative information that you find about the company.

Be aware that good plumbers sometimes have a backlog of several days during peak times when there are low temperatures, heavy rainfall or holidays. Sometimes heavy demand can be a sign of a company with lots of repeat customers.

54Try a Sewer Jetter or Electric Auger to Clean the Main Drain Clog Hog Sewer JetterIf you know the location of your main drain cleanout you can try using a sewer jetter or electric auger to clear the line. Sewer jetters can have the advantage of scrubbing off sticky build-up on pipe walls and flushing away sediment to reduce the need for future cleaning.

You can buy a sewer jetter for your pressure washer starting at $99, or in most areas you can rent a professional-quality electric auger for around $100 per day. For more information about using a sewer jetter, download the free Sewer Jetter Guide.

Running the sewer jetter in an uphill direction, from the main drain cleanout toward the building, helps ensure there's a clear path for debris to flush away, and can allow you to look inside the drain opening to judge when the line has been cleared of sediment.

If you have difficulty reaching the problem area from the main drain cleanout, you can sometimes access the main drain through a roof vent, or from an alternate drain opening. Note than when cleaning a main drain from a roof vent you should always be extra careful to maintain a stable footing.

Always read and follow the drain cleaning tool's safety instructions, then put on work gloves and eye protection before you begin.

55If You Don't Know the Location of Your Main Drain Cleanout Main Drain CleanoutYour main drain cleanout is usually located outside, around two feet from the building foundation, in a line that runs from your building to the city drain or septic tank. If the building has a basement, the main drain cleanout might be found there. Outdoor cleanouts can sometimes be hidden by shrubs, or buried by soil that was added after construction.

Once you locate your main drain cleanout, you can try using a sewer jetter or electric auger to clear the line. Sewer jetters can have the advantage of scrubbing off sticky build-up on pipe walls and flushing away sediment to reduce the need for future cleaning.

You can buy a sewer jetter for your pressure washer starting at $99, or in most areas you can rent a professional-quality electric auger for around $100 per day. For more information about using a sewer jetter, download the free Sewer Jetter Guide.

Running the sewer jetter in an uphill direction, from the main drain cleanout toward the building, helps ensure there's a clear path for debris to flush away, and can allow you to look inside the drain opening to judge when the line has been cleared of sediment.

If you are unable to locate a main drain cleanout or have difficulty reaching the problem area from that drain opening, you can sometimes access the main drain through a roof vent, or from an alternate drain opening. Note than when cleaning a main drain from a roof vent you should always be extra careful to maintain a stable footing. Always read and follow the drain cleaning tool's safety instructions, then put on work gloves and eye protection before you begin.

You should consider hiring a licensed plumber if you are unable to find a suitable drain opening, or are concerned about performing the job safely.

To Find a Good Licensed PlumberPlumber's Van

Start by asking family, friends and co-workers to recommend a licensed plumber who has performed similar repairs for them.

If you are unable to find a good recommendation from someone you know, next search local directories like Google Maps, Yelp and CitySearch for licensed plumbers nearby who have good online reviews. Don't always trust reviews from individuals who have very few other reviews, or from people who give only positive reviews to everyone. Be aware that good service providers sometimes get a small number of negative reviews for reasons that might not be relevant to your situation. Look for a company with several reviews that tell a positive, believable story about repairs that are similar to yours.

After you find one or more licensed plumbers who seem to have a good reputation, search online for the company name and the names of individuals at the company, if known. Take into account both the positive and negative information that you find about the company.

Be aware that good plumbers sometimes have a backlog of several days during peak times when there are low temperatures, heavy rainfall or holidays. Sometimes heavy demand can be a sign of a company with lots of repeat customers.

 

Attach a Pressure Washer Drain Cleaner

For help choosing and using a Clog Hog drain cleaner, visit our Sewer Jetter FAQ.

Got a question not answered here?
You can email us.

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