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How Do I Unclog a Laundry Drain?

Unclog a Laundry Drain

To unclog a laundry drain try the easiest, least expensive options first.

  1. First try a handheld drum auger to clean the laundry drain.
    • A 25 foot handheld drum auger can be purchased for around $30.
    • The auger can pass through most small-diameter traps that are present in laundry drain lines. And, if the clog contains fibers or hair the spiral tip might pull out some of the residue.
    • To clean a clogged laundry drain with a handheld drum auger:Handheld Drum Auger
    • Read and follow the drum auger safety instructions, then put on work gloves and eye protection.
    • Unplug and move any appliances to access the drain, place towels under the drain opening to handle any spills, and then carefully remove the washing machine drain hose.
    • 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 traps and elbows.
    • After you have inserted the drum auger its full length into the drain, pull out the auger cable as you feed it back into the drum. It may take several attempts before the drain is unclogged.
    • Use extra caution when working on any plumbing fixture where chemical drain cleaners may have been used to avoid splashing liquid on yourself and surrounding areas.
    • Note: if you can't reach the clog with a hand held auger, you can try a flat sewer rod with a disk-shaped tip that can usually pass through more types of small diameter elbows and transitions, and is sold in lengths up to 100 Ft.
    • Important: if several plumbing fixtures in different rooms are clogged, see our tips to unclog a main sewer drain.
  2. Needle Nose Drain CleanerTry cleaning the laundry drain with a sewer jetter if the clog keeps coming back.
    • A Needle Nose™ drain cleaner is a sewer jetter with a stronger, braided steel jacket and a special compact nozzle tip that allows it to pass through nearly as many drain elbows and transitions as the hand-held auger.
    • Important: laundry drains often have tight trap bends that flow into the flat face of a tee that blocks a sewer jetter or snake. Therefore you should try a sewer jetter only if you were able to insert the drum auger its full 25 foot length into the laundry drain. And, you should have an alternate drain opening available (such as the opening under a nearby clogged sink or the roof vent over the laundry room) in case the sewer jetter can't pass through the laundry drain.
    • Needle Nose Drain Cleaner VideoUnlike a mechanical auger, the sewer jetter scrubs the sides of dirty pipes and flushes out grimy residue so fewer clogs come back. You can see the differences between a mechanical auger and the sewer jetter as they both take on a greasy clog in this 2 minute video.
    • Needle Nose Drain CleanerTo clean a clogged laundry drain with the Needle Nose drain cleaner:
    • Put on fluid resistant work gloves and eye protection. Be extra careful if you believe the drain might contain drain cleaning chemicals.
    • Make sure the work area is well ventilated. And, if you're using a gas-powered pressure washer, only operate it outdoors.
    • Connect the drain cleaner to the pressure washer trigger gun. To avoid getting water on indoor floors, check your trigger gun and supply hoses for leaks while still outside.
    • Unplug and move any appliances to access the drain, place towels under the drain opening to handle any spills, and then carefully remove the washing machine drain hose.
    • Start your pressure washer, and then guide the nozzle at least a foot into the laundry drain opening before squeezing the trigger to start the flow of water.
    • After you have finished cleaning the drain, pull the drain cleaner out. Use care to release the trigger to stop the flow of water before the nozzle reaches the drain opening.
    • Replace the washing machine hose and check for secure fit, remove any towels, then plug in and move back the appliances.
  3. Licensed PlumberIf you're not comfortable performing any of these steps, you can save a lot of money in the long run by hiring a good, licensed plumber. To find a good plumber in your area:
    • Start by asking family, friends and co-workers to recommend a licensed plumber who has performed similar services for them.
    • If you are unable to find a recommendation from someone you know, 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 published 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.

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