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Drain Cleaning: How Much It Costs, And Why You Shouldn’t Put It Off

4 minute read

By Ryan Pratt

It’s easy to ignore the drains in your house – that is, until a problem arises. Bathroom drains slow down due to an accumulation of hair, toothpaste, and shaving cream, while kitchen drains clog up with grease and food waste.

In many cases, a generous dose of boiling water or drain cleaner can clear out small build-ups in your drains. However, when these DIY options aren’t enough, it’s time to call in the pros. Let’s take a look at what you can expect to pay for professional drain cleaning, and why it’s so important.

Shutterstock: winnond

Location, Location, Location

On average, a professional drain cleaning company will charge around $220 to unclog a drain 1. Having said that, the price can be lower or much higher depending on key factors such as the location of the clog, the complexity of the issue, and the plumber you hire.

If the clog is found in the secondary sewage lines (those which connect your home to the main sewage line) and is only affecting one household fixture, the cost should be minimal. A plumber can generally resolve that issue within a matter of hours. But if the serviceperson cannot locate where the clog is located, they will have to conduct a video camera inspection. The time and technology needed for this method alone will cost around $150 – $300 2.

Making Contact

Finding the clog is one thing, but reaching the clog can often be an entirely different – and more expensive – matter. For example, if there’s a drainage issue in your main sewer line, the plumber will need to reach the drain “cleanout”. Where this capped pipe is located on your property could play a significant role in how much your drain cleaning costs.

The “cleanout” (which connects your home’s secondary lines to the main sewer line, or septic) might be found in a utility closet, or buried under several feet of soil somewhere between your house and the street. Unfortunately, the more time and effort it takes to reach the source of the problem, the more you can expect to pay.

We Have The Technology

Small drainage issues can usually be fixed using handheld tools. But in special cases, everyday manual tools can cause more harm than good. If nothing in the plumber’s toolbelt can remedy the problem, more specialized equipment will have to be brought in – on your dime, of course.

For especially stubborn blockages that are impervious to manual snakes, plumbers often turn to power flushing, which uses water jetters to blast any build-ups of grease or waste from the interior of your pipes. Power flushing a main sewer line can cause upwards of $800 3.

The complexity of the job will increase the price of drain cleaning, but so will the severity of the task at hand. In the unlikely event of a sewage back-up occurring in your basement, you would need to invest in an interior or exterior backwater valve. The installation of this flap, which prevents sewage from spilling into your home, could cost between $10,000 to $15,000 4.

Picking Your Pro

When determining how much drain cleaning will cost, the final factor to consider is the professional you hire. Most plumbers charge hourly rates between $25 and $200, depending on their experience level and the job at hand 5. Key attributes you’re looking for in a plumber are proof of license and insurance, plus at least ten years of experience 6.

Outside of their professional stats, you can also glean a lot about your options by reading reviews online. You’ll be looking for five-star reviews, of course, but keep an eye out for comments that praise the plumber’s transparent approach to prices. Also, look for professionals who guarantee that the job will be completed.

Choosing the most qualified option might cost a little more, but it won’t be a needless expense. After all, peace of mind is certainly worth something!

Sturdy Pipes = Healthy Lungs

While the internet is full of DIY methods for tackling small blockages in your pipes, it’s wise to set aside some money for professional drain cleaning. Choosing to ignore partially blocked drains could wind up costing you in more ways than one. Clogged drains not only put more pressure on your pipes, causing them to weaken and leak, but they also harbor microbes and bacteria that can re-enter the circulating air of your home 7. This could create respiratory health issues for you and your family.

As you can see, there are many factors at play when trying to ballpark how much drain cleaning will cost. When your pipes are in need of professional help, the best advice is to research plumbers in your area and pay for the most qualified and respected option.

Ryan Pratt