How do you clean out a sewer line?


Quick Answer

To clean a sewer line, locate the cleanout, remove the cap, insert a plumber's snake, push the snake until it hits the obstruction, turn the snake to snag the obstruction, and pull the snake out of the line to remove the blockage. Use a rooter to cut through roots in the line.

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Full Answer

  1. Locate the cleanout

    The cleanout is a large pipe that has a square fitting on the cap. It is usually located near the foundation, in the garage or in the basement. Remove its cap. If water flows out of the cleanout, the blockage is downstream. If no water flows out, the blockage is toward the fixtures.

  2. Insert a plumber's snake

    Insert the snake into the cleanout, and direct it toward the blockage. When you hit an obstruction, start turning the snake to grab what is blocking the pipe. In some instances, the blockage breaks free and washes down the drain. In others, it comes out when you remove the snake.

  3. Use a rooter

    If the snake does not break through the blockage or remove it, consider using a power rooter. Rent the rooter at an equipment-rental store. Insert the tip of the rooter into the line, and turn on the motor. Push the cable toward the blockage. The machine has a cutting head that can cut through tree roots to open the sewer line.

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