Cost to repair a clogged drain
The severity and location can drive up the price
A clogged drain is one of the most common repair issues a homeowner can run into. A clog can be as simple as a buildup of hair and soap caught on the drain grate to multiple clogs plugging up the sewage line. The severity of the clog will have the biggest impact on the cost of fixing it. You can fix minor clogs yourself, while others require professional video inspection and snaking.
We spoke with plumbing professionals around the country and learned that repairs can be as little as $150 or reach up to $770 if the plumber has to hydro-jet the main line. On average, though, you can expect to pay anywhere from $150 to $350.
- Simple clogs can be cleared up quickly, often costing between $150 and $350.
- Clogged sink drains are often easier to tackle compared with shower and tub drains and the main sewer line.
- Additional costs come from emergency or after-hours service, video inspection and clog-removing methods like hydro-jetting.
What affects the cost of clearing a drain?
Like most other home repairs, the cost comes down to tools, parts and labor. How much you pay for each of these depends on the severity of the clog, the location and how the clog is taken care of.
You can also expect to pay a higher price if you call a plumber on the weekend or after hours. If you think the issue is isolated, you may be able to wait until normal business hours. However, some clogs may not be able to wait, and you want to avoid having a backup or leaks.
Severity, cause and location of the clog
Severity is a big cost factor when it comes to professional repairs.
“A simple blocked or clogged drain at a fixture is going to cost anywhere from $200 to $400,” said Hunter Botto, a plumbing professional of more than 30 years and a past president of the Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors Association (PHCC). “Depending on the severity, it will cost more.”
A simple clogged drain could just be a ball of hair stuck in the drain trap below the sink. More complex fixes include clogs that are farther away from the drain. The harder the clog is to fix, the longer it takes and the more you pay in labor.
Generally, you can expect to pay a fixed rate of around $230, on average, for a simple clogged drain. For more difficult jobs, you’ll often end up paying around $45 to $200 per hour for labor. If you need a clog fixed right away, added fees may include an emergency fee of $100 to $300 and holiday or night fees.
When a plumber can’t figure out the cause of a clog, they may use a video device that goes into your pipes to take a look around. On average, a video inspection can cost anywhere from $265 to $1,578. The cost depends on the camera type and how long it takes them to find the clog.
Snaking vs. hydro-jetting
There are two main ways a plumber can go about unclogging your drains: snaking and hydro-jetting.
Snaking is when a coiled wire device is fed down into the pipes. The clog is caught on the wire and pulled back up through the drain. This declogging technique from a professional often costs $145 to $350. If you do it yourself, you need a snaking tool (also called a drum auger), which costs from $10 to $30.
Hydro-jetting is when water is forcefully pushed through the drains to clear out the blockage. This is typically used for clogs farther down in the pipes or particularly stubborn clogs. Getting your pipes cleared by hydro-jetting can cost $350 to $770.
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Types of drains
In addition to the severity of the clog, the type of drain can affect the cost since some drains are easier to work on than others.
Bathtub or shower drain
Shower and tub drains pose bigger challenges. You may have to remove large debris and hair that may be down in the pipes under the floor. Some can be removed with a plunger or drain snake, while others require a professional.
Kitchen or bathroom sink
Kitchen sinks can be simple fixes. They may just need to be flushed with hot water to loosen grease in the pipes, or the sink trap (the pipe shaped like a J or U under the sink) may need to be emptied. These are often quick fixes most homeowners can handle. If you call a professional plumber, the cost will probably be on the lower end of the range.
Bathroom sinks typically have simple fixes, too. A wad of hair or soap could just be stuck in the sink stopper or grate and can take minutes to clear. Larger blockages can usually be fished out of the sink trap.
Toilet drains require more work, depending on the severity of the blockage. “For example, I have pulled snakes, fish, pajamas and all kinds of refuse out of residential toilets,” said Botto, the plumbing professional. “These repairs can take anywhere between 15 minutes to five hours.”
Main sewer line
Clogs in the pipes that go to your sewer or the city’s sewer lines are typically more expensive to fix. The pipes may need to be dug up to fix the problem (like tree roots clogging a pipe), and the extra labor will increase the cost.
DIY drain cleaning vs. hiring a plumber
Most homeowners can tackle simple drain clogs themselves. Tackling the task with a plunger or drain snake is an easy, inexpensive thing to try. Skip the drain cleaner, though.
Avoid using chemical drain cleaners to remove clogs, which can corrode the pipes and lead to more costly repairs.
“A common misconception is the use of Drano and other fix-it liquids,” said Botto. “Although these create temporary fixes, they do not fully clean out the entire pipe. Depending on the strength of the chemicals, you could end up corroding the pipes, causing leaks and other damage. Fixing these types of problems can cost thousands of dollars to fix.”
When should you call in a pro? If you try plunging the drain and snaking but it doesn’t help, it’s time to get a plumber. The clog may be set deep into the pipe, requiring better tools to clear it out, as James from Virginia told us.
“I mainly had drains that were super clogged up. The techs were here the next morning. … They had longer snakes than the one that I got. They just knocked it out real quick,” he said.
If several of your drains are clogged at the same time, it could be a sign that one of your main drainage pipes is blocked and you’ll need a professional to unclog it.
How long does it take to repair a clogged drain?
It depends on how complex the problem is. Hair caught in a drain grate can take just a few minutes to clear up, while a clog in your main sewer line may take days.
Can snaking a drain damage a pipe?
Generally, no. Snakes are flexible and don’t put pressure on your pipes, so they won’t cause damage if your pipes are in good shape.
How can I prevent clogged drains?
Using sink, shower and tub drain grates is a good way to avoid blocked pipes. Most cost less than $15. You just place it in the sink and the grate will catch food, hair, small toys or other items before they can fall down the drain.
If you have a garbage disposal, run cold water for about 30 seconds after each use to help flush down any debris. Also, avoid pouring grease or oil down your drains to prevent buildup and eventual clogs.
To prevent toilet clogs, use as little toilet paper as possible and flush more often. Also, avoid putting anything other than tissue in the toilet. If you have small children, put a lock on the toilet so none of their toys end up down the drain.
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Do home warranties cover clogged drain repairs?
Yes, most home warranties cover plumbing problems, including clogs and stoppages. Some warranties may not cover clogs beyond the inside of your home, however. Or, a provider may say it’ll only clear clogs up to a certain number of feet from the access point and exclude stoppages due to tree roots in the line.
That’s why it’s so important to carefully read your contract. Make sure to check your agreement to see the extent of your coverage.
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