How to Unclog the Drain Pipes to a Street


Unclogging drain pipes to a street involves more than just dumping chemical drain cleaner down the drain. The two main reasons clogs occur in drain pipes leading from the house to the street are sludge build up and root growth; the likelihood of root growth in the pipes increases with the age of the house.The key component to unclogging drain pipes to the street is to have the proper equipment. An electric rooter, also called an auger, will work to dislodge sludge build up and to cut away root growth.

Things You'll Need

  • Electric sewer rooter (auger)
  • Pipe wrench
  • Work gloves
  • Safety goggles
  • Rent an electric sewer rooter, also called an auger, that is rated for drain lines at least up to 4 inches. Rooters can be rented at many hardware stores or plumbing equipment rental stores. Most rentals are either by the half day or the whole day.

  • Put on the work gloves and safety goggles. Once you begin rooting, the drain pipe contents may splatter, creating a hazard to your eyes.

  • Unscrew the sewer drain cap using the pipe wrench. The sewer drain cap is a threaded insert with a large cube protruding from the top to allow the pipe wrench to grip it. It is typiclly located within a few feet of the exterior of the foundation. If you cannot locate it, look under the house and find where the drain pipe goes through or under the foundation.

  • Plug the electric rooter into a grounded outlet since this process involves a wet area. In the event of a short circuit due to water exposure, the outlet will trip. When it is safe to resume, reset the outlet by pushing in the reset button.

  • Insert the rooter line into the drain where you removed the drain cap and push it forward only about a foot at a time. Slow insertion will prevent damage to the rental equipment. Stop pushing the rooter line once it reaches the blockage and becomes difficult to push.

  • Turn on the electric rooter to begin rooting the drain. Wayne Roughton, a licensed plumbing contractor of nearly 30 years, suggests that you "only root a short distance at a time before running water through the pipe." This will help wash away the accumulated debris and make it easier to continue rooting.

  • Run water continuously through the pipe for two to three minutes after you have finished rooting. This will wash away the debris and help to clean the rooter line before extraction.

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  • Wayne Roughton, Licensed Plumber; Roughton and Sons General Construction; Columbia, NC
  • Photo Credit money down the drain 2 image by Robert Young from safety at work image by Paula Gent from old worked off adjustable wrench image by Kostyantyn Ivanyshen from electrical outlet image by Mat Hayward from
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