Chic Little Main Line: How to Unclog Your Drains Like a Pro

When roots from trees ,hair or something plugs up a pipeline and causes your toilet not to flush and maybe water to back up in the tub and or sink a plumber would tell you 'you need a clean out' and charge you anywhere from $ 90 to $ 300 dollars so I'm going to show you how we did it for $33.00. A few years ago we noticed that the water in the tub was not going down the drain and the toilet wouldn't flush completely. We ended up calling a plumber and spending a lot more than we expected for a job that seemed too easy (to me) Fast forward 2 years, to 2 weekends ago to be exact, water in our shower wasn't draining which made it impossible to wash laundry, dishes the basic stuff in life, all on a Holiday Weekend - Easter.

So this time before calling a plumber or spending the $33.00 I tired using things I already had around the house to see if the clog was minor hot water, soap and bleach usually gets minor clogs out . My second thought was to snake the main line drain by accessing our clean out. What is a main line drain and clean out you ask? A main line drain is your house's main sewer line that connects to the county line sewer line. Here's what I did.

First thing you want to do is check your clean out, by removing the cap on the sewer line this is usually found in the back yard lined up with the toilet . Your local sewer district should know if yours is in the front or back of your home. This is the access point point most plumbers use to snake your drains. The further you get from the house the deeper the pipe is going to be so its better to find the one closest to the house there should be at least two openings you can get to with the caps sitting at the surface( maybe under the stairs ,patio ). 

You can use a screw driver to lift the cap up .You will see a pipe going down unscrew the top off it may be filled to the top and water shoot out depending on how backed up it is but if you don't see any water, run a water hose in it and see how fast it fills up this will give you a nice idea of how far down whatever is clogging it is .

Next go to your local hardware store and ask for a snake you can rent one from $30 to $50 a day depending on how many feet you need. I rented a power snake from HD Home Supply same place we rented the floors sanders. In our area the have the best prices on rentals. This is what the pros use. 

I suggest getting one that goes all the way to the end of your yard  where your property stops and the county line starts in our case the 75 foot snake was the middle size reached our back fence which is where the county's line starts. If the county's line is the one clogged then they come out and repair the sewer line for free! Free is a good thing, but so is only spending $ 33 bucks.

Where our county line starts - the very end of our property line. 

The snake has one switch that goes forward off and reverse and one foot pump that's similar to a gas peddle .

You want to make sure that you are close as can be to the hole and have a flat surface to put the machine on I suggest a board this will keep the snake from wrapping and twisting up. There are different types of blades to put on the end of the snake try using one with teeth on both sides. 

This is where you attach the various blades

Feed the snake in the hole slowly with you foot on the pump/peddle and the switch set to forward if you feel it hit something switch to reverse slowly pulling the snake out the hole and go forward again one its loosened up this is cutting and pushing whatever is in the pipe down to the sewer line. 

Once the snake has cut through the clog the water will rush down the pipe. I like to run the snake all the way out then slowly reel it back end making sure i get everything in the pipe then run the watter hose in the pipe for about 15 20 minutes to check the flow whole process this should take anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour and save hundreds of dollars . Before returning the snake to the store, turn all your inside faucets all, flush the toilets make sure everything is flowing properly. Our clog was caused by tree roots, not surprising since we have tons of mature trees in our 1950's neighborhood. For hear on out, I plan on renting a power snake once a year around Springtime to catch any clogs before we get slow drains in our house.

All in a days work, oh yeah wear clothes you don't mind getting stinky dirty & a mask - just saying.

Thanks for reading, hopefully this will save you a ton on your next plumbing issue. 

Hasani aka