How to Snake a Sewer Line

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Sewer drains plug or become clogged, at the most inopportune times. Usually it's because of stuff that is dropped into the toilet and flushed away. Sometimes it is tree roots, which can find small crevices and push their way inside. You need to snake the drain in order to clear out the roots and other debris, making your drains run again. This is a job the average homeowner can do on his own and save some money in the process. Snaking the drains is much safer than pouring chemicals down the toilet.

Things You'll Need

  • Snake
  • 5-gallon bucket
  • Hot water
  • Towels
  • Gloves
  • Place a five-gallon bucket beneath the clean-out plug. Take a pipe wrench and loosen the plug, without removing it. The water and other debris will flow into the bucket.

  • Remove the clean-out plug when nothing more comes from the drain pipe.

  • Put the snake head into the hole, pushing it in by hand for three feet if you have an electric snake. For a manual snake, unroll the cable by rotating the wheel clockwise.

  • Keep the snake moving forward until it meets resistance.

  • Reverse the rotation on the snake bringing it back toward you about two feet. Reverse the rotation again by going forward. Repeat the forward backward rotation until the clog clears away.

  • Bring the snake out of the drain having an empty bucket under the clean-out plug. The bucket will catch whatever the snake brings back out of the drain. Also have some rags handy so you can wipe the cable off to keep the mess to a minimum.

  • Pour three buckets of hot water down the drain pipe. This will remove what the snake didn’t pull out and it will show you if you have the clog cleared. If the water still drains slowly, repeat snaking the drain as the clog may be further down the line. If you still have a problem, then the clog may be in the city’s line.

  • Wrap some waterproof tape around the threads of the clean-out plug to make it easier to remove should you have to remove it again.

  • Screw in the clean-out plug tightly; otherwise you run the risk of the pipe leaking sewer water or sewer gas into your home.

Tips & Warnings

  • Wear thick rubber gloves to protect your hands while working with the sewer system.

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