header photo

Drain Cleaning Tool for your Sewer

If you once hired an expert to clean your sewer, you probably have an idea how expensive it is. Some plumbing companies begin their prices for a standard clog clearing at around $250. And if the location of the work is not convenient, it will cost you even more. Likewise, you’ll pay more for jobs that take over an hour. That’s how it works. It is expected since this job is not for everyone and homeowners will gladly hire contractors to do the job for them. Good thing that those who cannot afford to hire an expert and plans on doing the task themselves can rely on a drain cleaning tool, the reliable sewer auger, to help them clear the stubborn drain.


The Sewer Line


For starters, a residential sewer line (typically 4-inches) runs from below the main waste or vent stack (commonly referred to as the main drain) of a house. Then, below the yard all the way to the city sewer below the street. It is the city government’s job to look after the main city sewer. Your home is your obligation, as well as the taps that connect your home line to the main city sewer.


The Cleanout


Use the auger on your drain through a cleanout. It is an access hole in your sewer line that is used for this specific purpose. The cleanout can be your fitting or a short pipe’s threaded plug found on its tip that connects to the main drain (often located in the crawlspace or basement). It can likewise be situated outside that is obvious for its plug or a tiny cover resembling a manhole-like appearance that seals the top of the steeply sloping pipe leading below the ground into the main sewer drain pipe. Houses built years ago may not come with a cleanout. For these older houses, you can access the sewer line by taking off your home’s toilet since it is the only drain in your home that is large enough to accommodate the auger. If you own an older house, you have no other alternative but to hire an expert.


What Drain Cleaning Tools you will Need?


Sewer Snakes or augers can typically be rented at various tool rental shops. It is a power tool that is made up of a 100-foot (some are just 50-foot long) cable within a metal spool resembling a cage that works hand in hand with a reversible electric motor. The frame of the auger has a couple of wheels that lets you tip it back and then roll it around just like a moving dolly. Then, there’s a two-pronged cutter on its end that rotates together with the cable when cutting the clog.


An auger is heavy. You need the help of the rental staff to carry it to your vehicle. The trunk of a car is not sufficient. You’ll also require a ramp and another strong person at home to help you take it out of your vehicle and bring inside the house. Renting a 100-foot auger for half a day or around 4 hours will cost you $65 or more (ask for its price from at least three rental shops before choosing one). Meanwhile, a 50-foot cable is a bit lighter and more manageable than the 100-foot one. However, you need to first rule out that a 50-foot cable is enough for you to reach the main sewer line before even considering of renting one. You’ll just need a disposable work gloves, a couple of rags, and then a screwdriver or a wrench for the cleanout. A garden hose is also helpful in helping you flush and test the drain prior to returning the sewer auger.


The Actual Cleaning Process


It is time to get your hands dirty. The initial step is to take off the cleanout cover or plug. But if your home’s drain is located way at the back, exposing the cleanout can initiate a tsunami-like release of sewage since the 4-ince pipe is being emptied onto the floor of your basement. Wait until your drain is empty on top of the cleanout prior to taking it off. When the clog is so severe, and you have no drainage, an expert is definitely needed to help you catch the contents in the cleanest manner possible.


Place the auger several feet away from your cleanout and then attach the power cord to an electrical outlet nearby. Many augers come with a foot pedal to let you operate the motor without having to use your hands. Position it in an accessible location. Then, pull out the auger’s cable and feed it into your home’s pipe several feet away. Next, step on the pedal to begin spinning the cable (as well as the cutter head) in the standard (clockwise) direction. As you are spinning the auger, start pulling the cable from the spool and feed it into your home’s drain one foot at a time. Moreover, rotating it helps the cable navigate the various twists and turns of the drain pipe aside from its cutting mechanism.


If you feel some resistance as you feed the cable, it is most likely due to the clog or a bend in the pipe. Just do not force it. Retract the auger’s cable a little by backing off the head of the cutter before feeding it once more. If the cutter meets some resistance again (often some tree roots or a clog), stop for a while as you keep on spinning the cable. If you must know, the cable is a torsion spring that is tightly wounded allowing you to wind it up for several more rotations. However, just bear in mind that it might break off when you get too far. Allow the pressure to build up gradually before yanking the cable back to free the cutter. You’ll see that the cable will spin back right away to its resting stance. In case the cutter is stuck and you can no longer unwound the cable, stop rotating the auger and press the motor’s reverse switch before rotating the auger backwards. You must first pull the cutter free prior to continuing in the clockwise direction.


As soon as your cable is working well again, you can resume feeding it to the drain. Continue doing this process until you eventually remove the clog. It is often needed to completely pull the cable outside, let it run over a rag while you coil it back to its spool cage to see if the head of the cutter has roots or other materials stuck in it. When you are trying to pull the cable, just keep the motor off, unless you must reverse it a little while passing a bend in the pipe. If you have a drain overflowing with water, you can sense or hear a very satisfying whoosh as you finally break the clog. But just to make sure, do the snaking process a few more times to ensure everything is clear. Then, run a garden hose below the pipe as you continue with the follow-up snaking. You’ll be able to clean the cable for good as well as flush out some troublesome debris too. Just leave the hose in there a little longer to make sure that the clog is no longer there.


When to Seek the Help of an Expert


You cannot always remove a clog on your own. There might be a very big tree root blocking or perhaps a damaged pipe among others. Most clogs need the expertise and advanced drain cleaning tools and gadgets owned by an expert plumber or a drain contractor. Just remember not to stress the auger or use it for a long period since you might damage it or the piping without ever clearing the clog. Just call an expert when you must. But first, choose wisely. A drain work is pricey most especially when repairs are necessary. You better choose a trusted plumber or a reliable drain contractor who gives out reasonable prices along with an outstanding reputation. But in case an expert cannot remove the clog, your next recourse is to take a video of the drain to determine the cause of the problem and the exact location of the clog.


Go Back