How Often Should I Clean My Sewer Drain Anyway?

Becca Stokes
Written by Becca Stokes
Updated October 14, 2021
Sink with water running into it
Catherine Falls Commercial / Moment via Getty Images

Time to give a little thought to your hard-working sewer drain

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Sewer drains might not be glamorous, but let's face it—they are one of the unsung heroes of our homes. As such, you might be wondering if you should be getting your sewer drain cleaned every so often to keep it in prime condition. We broke down everything you need to know about sewer drain cleaning to help you make an informed decision.

How Often You Should Clean Your Sewer Drain

While many items around your home require regularly scheduled inspections and cleaning, your sewer drain is significantly lower maintenance. But that doesn’t mean it’s okay to leave it alone for decades on end.

When it comes to cleaning your sewer drain, you want to do it often enough to prevent clogs from forming. Most plumbing professionals will tell you that sewer drain cleaning is most effective when performed once every 18 to 22 months.

Signs Your Sewer Drain Is Clogged

Getting your sewer drain cleaned at least every two years can help you avoid clogs. This task could also help you steer clear of pipe breakages that may lead to your sewer line backing into the home or creating other major and expensive problems.

While the goal is to keep your sewer drain clean to avoid clogs altogether, sometimes they happen anyway. Here are the most common signs that your sewer drain is clogged and in need of clearing:

  • Backup in the toilet, bathtub, or shower

  • Bad smell coming from drains

  • Pipes making gurgling sounds

  • Clogged drains occurring frequently

  • Drains emptying slowly

  • Water pooling in basement drains

  • Washing machine causing backup

How Much Does It Cost to Have a Clogged Line Cleared?

If you suspect that your sewer drain has passed the point of cleaning and needs to have a clog cleared, don’t worry. Most professional plumbers can come to your home and clear the line to quickly get rid of the clog at an average cost of $150.

What Should I Know About Sewer Drain Inspections?

Plumber checks sewer drain outside of house
nicolamargaret / iStock / Getty Images Plus via Getty Images

The age of your plumbing, the landscaping around your home, and your plumbing’s history of repairs all affect how often you should have your sewer drain inspected. If your plumbing is 40 years or older, you need to have your plumbing inspected.

Homes where tree growth is significant and homes with problem pipes can also benefit from inspection as needed. These inspections can stop larger issues, like roots cracking pipes, from growing.

During a plumbing inspection, expect the pro to thoroughly examine every pipe through which water and waste in your home travel. While cleanings are great, they don’t provide the deep look at your plumbing’s condition that an inspection can provide.

If you suspect a problem with your home’s plumbing, get an inspection, and a pro will be able to advise you on further steps like future cleanings.

What Do Pros Use to Clean Sewer Drains?

Plumbing professionals traditionally use high-pressure water jetters to clean sewer drains. These machines can easily blast away hard-to-remove muck like grease, hair, and even food.

While drain snakes and augers have their place in removing clogs from pipes, they don’t actually clean the pipe itself. That makes high-pressure water jetters an effective and relatively eco-friendly method of having your sewer drain cleaned.

How Much Does It Cost to Have My Sewer Drain Cleaned?

Cleaning a sewer line costs an average of $325, with a typical range between $175 and $475.

Using the drain snake costs between $100 to $250, or about the cost of a service call. Fixing mainline clogs with the drain snake can run twice as much. High-pressure water jetting costs between $350 to $600. It clears more debris than a snake, but if work gets complicated, costs can rise to $1,000.

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