Plumber Clean Out: Facts You Need to Know About to Tackle the Problem

What is Plumber Clean Out?

When you mention a plumber clean out, many homeowners do not know exactly what it is.  Basically, it provides an entry point to the drainage system of your home plumbing to help remove clogs as well as allow for video inspection to be done. This is the reason why it is designed to be easily opened and sealed. Since it is an integral part of your home plumbing system, you should become more familiar with it. So what should you know?

Identifying Blockage

In order to assess what to avoid, you should be aware at the presence of a blockage. Normally, if you have one or more backed up sinks, tubs, or toilets in your home, it would be safe to assume that you have a blockage.

Let’s say you are shaving or washing your face and the water is slowly draining, but not necessarily stagnant, it can also be an indication of a blockage. It is important to be aware though that something more serious than a blockage may be happening within your plumbing pipes. This is why identifying the presence of blockage becomes so important, because it allows you to act quickly to resolve it.

Clearing out a blockage from your tub or basin drain can be done is as fast as 10 minutes and even without professional help, using only a plunger. If the problem though exists within the main line, professional plumbing service will be needed at a more substantial cost.

This means that it is important to understand when you can take matters into your own hands and when it is time to call in the experts.

Types of Clearing

When is it time to call for professional help? That would depend on the severity of the problem you are facing. A completely backed up line may be too difficult for some homeowners to deal with, especially if they lack basic plumbing skills.

The cost of cleaning can be as low as $20 and can be done in roughly an hour using a plunger and a bottle of drain cleaner. If you let the problem stay longer, the higher the risks and the cost becomes. When calling a professional plumber, the cost would normally vary depending on the hourly rate, which often is around $45 to $150 based on the region and expertise of the licensed plumber.

The amount of work that would be involved would also affect the price of cleaning a plumbing blockage. Parts and labor would normally be in the neighborhood of $127 to $238 depending on the parts to be replaced. On the average though, homeowners usually pay $200 for this component of the cleaning. Smaller cleaning jobs can go for as low as $81 to as high as $500.

Tub and Sink Drains

When it comes to the tub and sink drains, you can spend about $109 to $214 for its clearing. Despite being easy to do, the bulk of the cost goes towards payment for labor. You may even have to shoulder a call-out-fee or be charged a minimum amount depending on the plumbing service that you choose. This is why some homeowners would prefer to do the clean out on their own. This would be well and good in terms of savings, but, do you really know what you are doing?


For many plumbing services, toilets are a hot topic. This is because toilets are considered as the most common cause of blockage in most home plumbing systems. When toilets are blocked, a professional plumber can get it cleaned out at the cost of $109 to $273. Considering that removing toilet blockage is not a very pleasant experience, the price may well be worth it for you. Of course, if you insist on doing it yourself, you may only have to spend about $8 to $40 for a plumbing snake tool. If you do this, be sure that you have protective clothing, gloves, and glasses.

Main Line Clogging

Obviously, cleaning out the main line will involve more work and therefore cost comparatively higher. Snaking the main sewage line is not an easy task considering that the plumber clean out does not really give you a great view of what is happening inside the pipes; unless you have video inspection equipment.

The cost can vary depending on how severe the blockage is as well as the distance of the blockage from the clean out. The time involved in cleaning will also be considered. This means that you may pay anywhere from $100 to $800 for professional service. If you are going to do it on your own, you can rent and industrial grade snake from about $29 to $70. Make sure that you know how to operate it properly, otherwise you may be doing more harm than good.

How to Clean (DIY)

As a DIY project, clearing out blockage can be considered as a moderately difficult task that can take up to an hour on the average. Make sure that when you open the plumber clean out, you are aware that sewer gas has the potential to get into you home so leave windows open and place a fan near the work area to fend off the gases.

You will also need the following to do the job properly:

  • – Large pipe wrench;
  • – Teflon tape;
  • – Empty pail with a handle;
  • – Garden hose;
  • – Plumber’s snake or auger;
  • – Power auger (optional—can be rented); and
  • – Old newspaper.

How do you do it? Start by spreading the old newspaper on the floor directly under your work area. This makes cleaning easier later on and helps protect the flooring. Position the empty fail on the clean out so that it hangs directly under the cap.

The pipe wrench is used to loosen the cap by slowly turning it so that the water that flows out will be controlled and sent directly into the bucket. Do this gently until there is no more water flowing from the clean out. Once the water has stopped, you can continue to completely remove the cap.

Insert the plumber’s snake into the clean out opening and turn it slowly to feed the cable down the drain line. Continue twisting until the snake hits the blockage to allow the tip to push through the blockage. After this is done, gently reel in the cable to pull the blockage out of the drain. You may have to try a couple of times before you actually hit the clog.

It is possible that the plumbing snake will not be long enough to get to the clog. What do you do? Try to use a garden hose with one end attached to the faucet. Slide the other end into the drain and stuff the area around the hose with old rags. This completely closes off the drain opening. Open the faucet at full blast and let it run for a couple of minutes. This is intended to allow the water pressure to dislodge the blockage.

Of course you may rent powerful commercial plumbing augers to get access to longer cables. But this would also add up to the cost of cleaning out your drain line. Even a hand-powered one can be rented out to you at a considerably lower cost.

When you successfully remove the clog from the main drain, make sure that the threads are wrapped in Teflon tape. This prevents the sewer gasses from seeping out of the plumber clean out cap. The cap should be tight and firmly in place as well.

Cost Factors

As you may already know, there are a couple of factors that will dictate how much you will be paying for the clean out. One of the most common factors for price variations would be the region where you are living in as well as the time of year. There will be seasons when cleaning out drain lines become more difficult than usual.

The amount of blockage that the plumber has to deal with also comes into play. The more severe the problem, the higher the cost of cleaning. This also puts into the picture the number of clogs that have to be dealt with. It is not unusual for home plumbing systems to experience multiple simultaneously clogged drains and fixtures.

What caused the blockage will also impact the cost of cleaning. Some causes like food debris, hair, or scum can be easily dissolved and flushed down the system. This means little time would be needed to solve the problem. However, if the cause of the clogging is a collapsed pipe for example, then the cost would be substantially higher.

Hiring a Professional

The decision when to hire a professional becomes critical depending on the type of blockage you are experiencing. For example, if the problem has to do with the main drain line, it can cause multiple problems in your home. This does not mean though that other types of clogging should be left unattended.

Before you do try and call a licensed professional, it would be best if you can try to determine the location and cause of the blockage on your own. This is not as easy as it sounds, but there will be instances when visible signs are giveaway clues. Like a kitchen drain with stagnant water for example, of a slow draining bathroom sink.

When multiple blockages are happening in your home, there is no question that licensed professional plumbers should be called in. Why? Even if you think that all of these can be easily resolved, multiple blockages is normally a sign of a main drain line problem. This can only be confirmed by professionals who have the proper equipment to do so.

Plunging away on your kitchen or bathroom sink may restore its functionality, but for how long? And what makes you so sure that you have really resolved the problem and not just gotten temporary relief? You have to keep in mind that in many instances, clogging of plumbing fixtures is a sign of a much bigger problem that should not be ignored and must be promptly acted upon.

Removing the trap: If you can easily access the pipes under the basin, you can remove the U-shaped trap to gain access to the blockage. When you do this, ensure you have a bucket under the basin to catch any water. Some traps are easy to remove by hand, while others require a wrench or some slip-joint pliers.

Snaking the drain: Small household snakes are relatively inexpensive and simple to use. For blockages in the main line, you need a much longer industrial snake.

Tips What to Avoid

In order to avoid future clogs, it would be a good practice to regularly flush your drain lines. You have the option of using commercially available drain cleaners or trying out homemade remedies. The important thing to remember is to try and stay away from chemical cleaners as much as possible.

The harsh chemicals will eventually corrode and damage your pipes aside from posing dangers to your health. There are a number of non-corrosive bacteria-based drain cleaners that you can use to efficiently deal with sludge and germs without having to worry about pipe damage, which can increase the cost of cleaning.

Regularly flushing your drains helps to keep it free of debris. You can maintain this condition by ensuring that you limit what you put into your garbage disposal as well as regularly removing the clump of hair in your bathroom drains. A cheap and easy way to help prevent drain clogging is to put a metal mesh screen on all your drains.

To make sure that you are truly covered against potential clean out problems, ask Scott English Plumbing to do regular inspections in your home. Give them a ring today.