Ask Angie’s List: How much does sewer cleaning cost?


In any home, normal wear and tear can cause the main sewer line to eventually back up. This clog can be due to normal blockages from grease and household items or outside problems like encroaching root systems. Whatever the reason, a blocked sewer line is going to cause problems. Resolving the problem should be done as quickly as possible to avoid backups and further cleanup and repair costs.

While you can purchase a number of products on the market designed to help homeowners tackle simple drain clogs on their own, seek out a professional plumber or a commercial sewage company for main lines and outdoor issues.

Pros use two primary methods to clear out a sewer line:

– Snaking, or rodding, uses a snake line with an auger on the end. It is usually the least expensive route, running only $100 to $250 or about the cost of a service call. Fixing main line clogs can run twice as much. Most professional plumbers have snakes that are 50 feet or longer to reach most clogs easily. If the clog is minor, it can be broken up using an auger in a matter of minutes. While it can get the drain flowing again, it is not actually cleaning the entire pipe. The heads are usually smaller than the pipe it’s running through, so it only punches a hole through most clogs.

– Hydro jetting is a more effective technique and clears more debris than a snake, but increases the price to $350 to $600. Severe and complex work can run upwards of $1,000. Because of the extremely high water pressure, older pipes are susceptible to damage and should receive a video inspection first.

Many line blockages take place somewhere inside the house, and can be resolved relatively easily. However, you might also have a blocked main line outside the house. Sometimes these can also be cleared easily, but for a complicated job, you may pay between $500 and $1,000 or more. Outdoor main lines have a wider diameter and can go dozens of feet away, calling for specialized equipment.

Sometimes, your professional will tell you a sewer scope inspection is the right path. This works by placing a small camera on the end of the auger and running it through the pipe. This gives professionals and homeowners a clear view of what is causing blockages, and are particularly worthwhile if you have frequent problems. A scope inspection usually costs between $250 and $500.

In many cases, sewer cleaning can clear out an issue and be done with it. However, in some cases, the clog is the result of damaged lines. In that case, you’ll need to hire a sewer repair company.

Sewer main repairs cost $1,000 to $4,000 with favorable conditions and easy access. Digging under slabs or in crawl spaces increases the price. Rates will vary considerably depending on the length of the pipe, the complexity of the job, ease of access and your location. Plus, you’ll need to take into consideration cleanup and repair work to your yard and foundation.

Paul F. P. Pogue is a reporter for Angie’s List, a trusted provider of local consumer reviews and an online marketplace of services from top-rated providers. Visit

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