Plumbing issues can be tricky – sometimes they are an easy fix, other times you need to call in a professional, which can get expensive. Most people want to avoid the large bill that comes with an emergency plumbing visit, so they try to fix the issue themselves.

A clog in your main sewer line is something that can usually be fixed with some DIY maintenance for a fraction of the cost of calling a plumber. Here’s how:

Know the Signs of a Main Sewer Line Clog

Before you bring out the pipe snake or try to fix anything yourself, it’s important to know the signs of a clogged sewer line. The location of the clog will determine how you address it and whether or not you’ll need to call a local drain cleaning company for help. Here’s what to look for:

  • Backed up sinks and showers
  • Discolored, smelly water
  • Toilet drainage in the shower or tub

What You’ll Need

Before you get started, you’ll need to gather the supplies listed below. As a side note, you’re going to want to use a professional grade pipe auger – not the small ones you get from the grocery store. Main line sewer clogs usually require heavy duty suction and a long drain snake to reach, but luckily you can rent a professional grade plumbing snake from most hardware stores.

  • Waterproof work gloves
  • Garden hose
  • Plumbing snake/pipe auger (can be rented at most hardware stores)
  • Pipe wrench
  • Waterproof shoes/boots (recommended)  

How to Clear A Main Sewer Line Clog

1. Loosen the Drain Pipe Cap

The first step is to find your main drain cleanout location. It usually looks like a small pipe that sticks about 10 to 12 inches vertically out of the ground. Use the pipe wrench to loosen the cap. Do it slowly and allow it to sit for a few seconds before you remove the cap entirely, so you can avoid any sudden spillage. Be ready to step away.

2. Remove Cap, Allow Build-Up to Drain

Once you remove the cap, step away quickly. The clog will probably have caused waste to build up, and once you remove the cap, it will come spilling out quickly. Allow the pipe to drain completely before you try to do anything else. This is where the waterproof boots and gloves will come in handy.

3. Insert Plumbing Snake into Pipe

Once the pipe has finished draining, begin to gently feed the auger into the opening. Make sure to read the instructions before you begin; each pipe snake will have slightly different instructions.

Feed the auger slowly into the pipe until you reach the clog. You’ll know you’ve hit it when the snake becomes hard to move.

4. Allow Plumbing Snake to Run Until Clog Is Gone

Run the auger until you don’t feel any more resistance, and the water build up in the pipe is gone – this indicates the clog is gone. Continue to run the auger even after the clog is gone as there could still be small clumps of debris after the drain clog has cleared or broken up.

5. Clean Up

After you are done, leave the auger in the pipe and hose it down. Make sure the nozzle is on full blast and give everything a thorough rinse – this will help clear out any left-over junk that could cause another clog. Afterward, you’ll also want to hose down the pipe snake before you put it away.

Main Line Pipe Still Clogged?

If, after following those steps, your drain is still blocked, it might be time to call a licensed professional. Sometimes, other, more severe plumbing issues can present as a sewer backup – if left untreated they can result in thousands of dollars of damage. If you’re still having difficulty locating your blockage or clearing your drain, give us a call at 817-200-4703.