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How Much Does It Cost To Clean A Sewer Main?

Typical Range: $175 - $473

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Main Sewer Line Clog Costs

Cleaning a sewer line costs an average of $323 with a typical range between $175 and $473.

  • Snaking or Rodding: $100-$250 or about the cost of a service call. Fixing main line clogs can run twice as much.
  • Hydro jetting: $350-$600. Clears more debris than a snake. Severe and complex work can run upwards of $1,000.
average cost to clean a sewer main is $300, or $100 to $950

Broken and deteriorated lines often require replacement, which averages $2,500. Trenchless pipe repair costs an average of $160 per foot and involves the use of epoxy resin over trench digging. Visual inspection by a licensed plumber is the only way to be sure.

In many homes, the main sewer line can become clogged over time. This clog can be due to normal blockages from grease and household items or outside problems like encroaching root systems. Whatever the reason, a blocked sewer line is going to cause problems. Resolving the problem should be done as quickly as possible to avoid backups and further cleanup and repair costs.

While there are a variety of products on the market designed to help homeowners tackle simple drain clogs on their own, seek out a professional plumber or a commercial sewage company for main lines and outdoor issues.

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National Average $323
Typical Range $175 - $473
Low End - High End $99 - $1,100

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Cost data is based on actual project costs as reported by 3,987 HomeAdvisor members in .

Cost to Clear or Clean a Sewer Line

Most homeowners pay anywhere from $100 to $900 to clean a sewer line. Extreme cases that require a dig and replace run upwards of $4,000 or more.

To remove a clog from a sewer line, professionals may rely on several different tools and appliances. Here are two commonly used methods:

  • Rodding uses a snake line with an auger is an inexpensive, popular solution.
  • Hydro jetting uses a high-pressure hose at a higher price, but can yield better results.
Sewer Line Cleaning Costs
Hydro Jetting$350-$600
Repair or Replace$1,000-$7,500
Chemical Treatments$5-$300
Plumber Labor Rates$40-$150 per hour

Hydro Jetting Drain Cleaning Cost

Cleaning your main lines with a hydro jet typically runs $350 to $600. Heavier jobs, like light commercial lines, require larger machines with prices reaching $3,000 or more.

The most effective option for sewer lines is a high-pressure hose with special tips. This can remove the clog as well as any residue that has built up in the pipes.

Hydro jets use a combination of extremely high-pressure water and specialized heads to penetrate and remove clogs. The nozzles come in three main varieties: penetrators, spinning rotary and chain flail. However, because of the extremely high pressure, older pipes are susceptible to damage and should receive a video inspection first.

Cost to Snake Main Line (Sewer Rodding)

Snaking a main line costs anywhere from $100 to $250 though complex and difficult clogs may cost up to twice as much. The most basic and common approach is to rely on a drain auger, also called a drain snake. This is a long piece of flexible metal made to go down the drain and around any bends in the plumbing.

Most professional plumbers have snakes that are 50 feet or longer to reach most clogs easily. If the clog is minor, it can be broken up using an auger in a matter of minutes. While it can get the drain flowing again, it is not actually cleaning the entire pipe. The heads are usually smaller than the pipe it's running through, so it only punches a hole through most clogs.

Repairing or Replacing a Line

Sewer main repairs cost $1,000 to $4,000 with favorable conditions and easy access. Digging under slabs or in crawl spaces increases the price. Rates will vary considerably depending on the length of the pipe, the complexity of the job, ease of access and your location. Plus, you'll need to take into consideration cleanup and repair work to your yard and foundation.

Secondary costs include:

Chemical Drain Maintenance Treatments

Chemical drain cleaners cost anywhere from $5 to $300. In most cases, you'll need a plumber to remove tough clogs and clean out a main pipe. However, chemical cleaners are great annual or bi-annual DIY maintenance tool to avoid repeat plumber visits.

Drain fluids can work on slow moving pipes without the need for a plumber. They are particularly effective after rodding, since snakes don't always remove the entire clog.

Some chemicals, like copper sulfate, should be used sparingly as they can cause significant damage to the environment.

Common Chemical Drain Line Treatment Costs
  • Foaming Main Line Cleaner
  • Environmentally safe
  • Best for biological clogs
  • Slow acting
  • Environmentally safe
Drano & Liquid Plumber$5-$15
  • Not effective on main lines
  • Environmentally safe
Copper Sulfate*$15-$60
  • Very effective for roots but toxic to the environment

*This is a chemical available in a wide variety of name brand root killers.

What's Included in the Service

Cleaning a sewer line includes a variety of services to identify the location and type of clog and then remove it. Whatever the steps required to diagnose and repair the problem, plumbers charge $45 to $150 per hour with most also requiring a minimum for the service call. A service call will typical involve:

  1. Asking questions about symptoms like smells, location of backups and any debris you may have noticed.
  2. For full blockages, they'll often take the age of the home and pipes into account. They'll often run a video camera down the pipes to visually inspect them.
  3. Then, they will locate the clean out. The clean out is a fitting located just outside of the home but before it meets the main sewer. The clean out, which is generally shaped like a Y, is the easiest spot to open the sewer lines and have access in both directions.
  4. From there, the plumbing professional will use either a drain auger or a hydro jet to clear out the line.
  5. To test that the process was successful, the clean out should be reinstalled and the drains in the home should be checked. If the cleaning was successful, it will be immediately noticeable that the sewer lines are clear, and there should be no gurgling or standing water in the drains.

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Signs of a Blocked Sewer Line

Having sewage or waste coming back out of the drains is the most obvious sign that there is a clog in the main sewer line. This is usually an unpleasant and messy experience that creates horrible smells and health hazards. It may even do damage to the home if it isn’t taken care of immediately.

Warning signs tend to appear before backups. Don't ignore these key signs:

  • Standing Water
    • If water is standing in only one sink or tub, most likely the cause is a clogged pea trap just under the drain. However, if multiple sinks or tubs won't drain, you've got a clog in the line.
  • Gurgling Sounds
    • If there is a loud gurgling sound coming from one of the drains that never used to be there before, it may be due to a clog in the line.
  • Roots
    • Noticing pieces of roots could be a sign of a problem. As older pipes collapse, roots can get inside. If water comes through the drain and even tiny pieces of roots are visible, this may be a big issue.
  • Smells
    • Even if water doesn't gurgle or come back up through a drain, a bad smell may be sign of a clog somewhere in the line.

    Sewage Backup Cleanup Costs

    Sewage backups cost an average of $7 per square foot. Sewage is considered a black water contamination with serious health hazards. Small backups can be cleaned up yourself with the proper safety equipment, but larger spills should be addressed by a professional.

    Cost to Remove Tree Roots in Sewer Line

    Removing tree roots from a line typically runs $100 to $600 or more for larger issues. Severely damaged lines require replacement for an additional $2,500 on average. Once removed, you should do annual or biannual chemical treatments.

    Roto Rooter Costs to Snake Pipes

    Roto-Rooter requires an on-site inspection before quoting you a price, though reports have their base price at $350 for simple clogs. They also charge $250 for a video line inspection.

    Roto Rooter differs from most other plumbers by giving a flat rate, regardless of the amount of time the job takes. They do offer a guarantee of their products with a mail in refund request form and limit it to one per household.

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    Cost to Unclog Main Sewer Line vs. Drains

    The costs laid out in this guide focus on main line clogs.

    • Main lines run from your home to the sewer main owned and maintained by the city. Cleaning requires more expensive equipment and the expertise to do it correctly.
    • Drain clogs that affect your sinks and toilets are simple DIY fixes or a quick visit from a plumber.

    Kitchen and Bathroom Clogs

    Clogged drains cost about $200 to have professionally fixed. Clogged drains in your home are often DIY jobs with a little chemical help or a cheap hardware store snake you can pick up for $10 to $30. Even electric handheld models are only $75 to $200 - less than a service call.

    Most of these indoor clogs are only a few feet down the drain, typically while the pipe is still only 2 to 3 inches in diameter. These cheaper snakes are 5 to 15 feet in length and large enough for the smaller indoor pipes. Often, chemical cleaners are all you need to get the water draining again.

    Main Line Blockages

    Outdoor line diameter can exceed 4 inches, requiring larger, more expensive equipment. Plus, blockages can be anywhere from 10 to 100 feet away. Professionals use snakes and hydro jets that cost anywhere from $500 to $15,000 or more.

    Preventing Main Sewer Line Clogs

    Prevent sewer line clogs there by:

    • Installing a catch-all to prevent hair from going down bath or shower drains.
    • Encouraging residents not to flush anything but toilet paper.
    • Not putting certain items down the sink's drain such as coffee grounds or leftover cooking oil.
    • Using chemical treatments to keep roots out of your pipes.

    Sewer Scope Inspection

    Sewer scope inspection costs average $250 to $500 though can fall outside that range depending on where you live and the professional you use. If blockages are frequent, it may be worth having a video inspection of the sewer lines.

    This works by placing a small camera on the end of the auger and running it through the pipe. This gives professionals and homeowners a clear view of what is causing blockages.

    Storm Drain Cleaning Cost

    In almost every case, the city or municipality is responsible for cleaning the storm drains as these are public use and usually not located on private property. However, any drainage pipe connecting to the storm drain is the responsibility of the property owner. Examples include catch basins, sump pumps, or underground tile drainage systems.

    The costs for this type of cleaning vary wildly based on the type of system you have for drainage, your location and city ordinances governing them. Contact your local plumber or landscaping professional for specific pricing.

    Sewer Cleanout Costs

    Installing a cleanout will run an average of $2,000. The pipe and materials cost between $70 to $150 with tools and equipment running another $300 to $500. Excavation equipment and multiple laborers are usually involved though small or inaccessible jobs only require a shovel.

    Cleanouts are an opening for access to the main sewer line for snakes and hydro jets for clearing clogs. It’s been part of building code in the United States for decades. Unless you have an extremely old home, chances are good you already have one installed.

    DIY vs. Hiring a Plumbing Service

    For main lines, always hire a professional plumber. Attempting to clean a line without the proper equipment or training can result in a broken sewer drain and extensive repairs and cleanup. Clearing out a kitchen sink drain might be an easy DIY project but dealing with a main sewer line is best left to the professionals.

    Can I Get a Cheap Sewer Cleaning?

    You can get a cheap sewer cleaning, but you often get what you pay for. A clog itself isn't a big deal, but it can quickly lead to larger problems. Make sure to ask your plumber these questions to get the right help.

    • Address roots properly to avoid the high cost of replacing a sewer line.
    • Clear clogs correctly to avoid backups and large sewage cleanup bills.
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