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How Do I Thaw a Frozen Sewer Line?

Unclog Frozen Icy Waste

It's often possible to thaw a frozen drain line with a sewer jetter, provided you follow the right steps.

Note: you can read several success stories on our Customers Page from people who unclogged frozen pipes using a sewer jetter.

  1. Most frozen icy waste removal jobs can be completed using the cold water supply from a garden hose. Heated water is usually not required.
  2. Use a sewer jetter with a nozzle that has a forward jet to help penetrate the icy clog.Needle Nose Drain Cleaner
  3. Nozzle spray jets have close to zero penetration force when operating under water, so it's always recommended to start from a downhill drain opening and point the sewer jetter uphill, toward the icy clog, so that water can drain out as the nozzle penetrates the clog.
  4. Before you start the job, make sure you have a clean water supply for your pressure washer:
    • Run clean household water through the garden hose and high-pressure hose before you attach the sewer jetter.
    • Check all open coupling ends to be sure they’re free of dirt and debris that could clog the sewer jetter nozzle tip.
    • A clean water supply is essential, because even a small amount of dirt or debris can clog the sewer jetter nozzle jets and stop your forward progress in a frozen pipe.
  5. Needle Nose Drain CleanerTo thaw a frozen drain using a sewer jetter:
    • Review the general tips to clean your main drain with a sewer jetter by visiting the unclog a main sewer drain tips page.
    • Whenever the sewer jetter is inside of a frozen pipe, keep the sewer jetter moving and water flowing through the jetter.
    • After you have finished the job, drain the sewer jetter and all supply hoses of water immediately to avoid damage from freezing water.
  6. Note that heated water is generally not required to clear a frozen pipe with a sewer jetter. However:
    • Unclog the Main Sewer DrainYou might have the option to use household hot water supplied through a sink adapter to run heated water through the pressure washer.
    • Clog Hog drain cleaners for cold water pressure washers are rated for continuous use with water up to 120 degrees F. This is equivalent to the temperature of many household hot water supplies.
    • Note that many pressure washers are rated only for water up to 100 degrees F. Before attempting to use your household hot water supply for sewer jetting, check your pressure washer owner's manual for the water temperature rating and test the temperature of your hot water supply with a cooking thermometer.
  7. If you're not comfortable performing any of these steps, hiring a good, licensed plumber could save you money in the long run. To find a good plumber in your area:Licensed Plumber
    • 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 good 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.

If you have questions or comments please contact us.