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How much plumbers charge to unclog the drain

Clogged drain is one of the most common problems for homeowners. The exact cost of clearing a sewer line depends on many factors and is difficult to predict. On the next two pages you will find actual prices to clear sewer main or unclog smaller drains as advertised by plumbers or reported by the customers. Try to learn a little about your house plumbing to avoid being ripped off by a plumber.

Before calling a plumber:

Check other drains in the house. If only one is blocked, you can try plunger or Draino on it. Or, if you are handy, try small handheld auger or snake.

If all the drains in the house are backing up, you probably have the main sewer line clogged. If this is the case, try to locate your house main sewer line clean out. Look for a clean-out cap somewhere between the house and a street. Your house may have more than one clean out or none.
If you found the clean-out, look for a sign of leak from under it. You may even try to unscrew a little the clean-out cap using adjustable wrench. Be very careful, the sewage may back up into your face. If you see a liquid coming from under the clean-out cap you have your main sewer line clogged. You will need to call a plumber with a snake.
Try to estimate a distance between your house clean out and a city sewer line. Look for a manhole covers for city sewer up and down your street, ran an imaginary line connecting these two covers, and measure the distance from your clean out to this imaginary line.

Here are the main factors that you need to know to understand the cost of unclogging your drain.

  • It's cheapest to unclog one small drain (sink, floor, or bathtub).
  • To unclog the main sewer line will cost you more.
  • Expect to pay even more, if your main does not have a clean out - the plumber will have to run his snake either from the sewer vent on your roof, or from one of your toilets. He will need to remove the toilet, and then to put it back.
  • If your house is far from the city sewer line, the plumber may need a longer snake - this may cost you extra.
  • Emergency, after hours, and weekend service will cost you more.
  • Some plumbers may charge service fee, or trip fee, or both. Or they may have other extra charges - ask about it when calling a plumber.
  • Some plumbers charge flat fee to unclog the drain, others may charge by the hour - ask about this when calling a plumber

Finally, when the plumber arrives he may find it difficult to unclog your drain. It could be because of the roots in sewer line, or because of collapsed pipe, or something… Plumber may offer you to replace a pipe, or to inspect your sewer main using an infrared video camera, or to try hydro jetting (hydro scrubbing) which uses high pressure water streams to clear sewer pipes. All these options can run the cost of unclogging your drain well into thousands of dollars.

next page: how much others paid to unclog the sewer main.
page 3: cost to clear small residential drain

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