Drain cleaning services—most often provided by professional plumbing companies but in some cases by handy people with plumbing knowledge—offer inspections and cleaning or unclogging of drains that are stopped up or draining slowly. When a single fixture (sink, tub or shower) drain isn’t functioning normally, it could mean there’s a blockage in the fixture’s trap, which can often be remedied using a plunger. Many plumbers urge customers to avoid using harsh chemical drain cleaners, which can corrode pipes and release toxic chemicals into the sewer system. If more than one fixture is not draining, the problem may be in the pipes between the fixture and the main line sewer line or branch line. In this case, a plumber’s can take a look and clear out the blockage using professional equipment. Most plumbers charge flat rates for drain cleaning. Average costs are $150–$200 to have someone assess and unclog a blocked drain.
If more than one fixture is clogged, some plumbers may suggest a camera inspection to get a better idea of what’s causing the problem. John Cooper, owner of Do Right Rooter & Plumbing Experts, prefers to diagnose clogs and problems with main sewer lines using a video inspection. My Hayward Plumber Hero offers a free video camera inspection with any standard drain cleaning for customers who use the company’s internet-only offer.
The most common way to clean a drain if it is clogged with organic debris is to use a cable auger, or "snake." Pierce County Plumbing charges $230–$250 to cable a drain through the P-trap. Owner Joe Clark says national “rooter” companies tend to charge $300–$400 for the same service.
Depending on the nature of the clog and the material that the pipes are made of, plumbers may need to use a hydrojetter. Hydrojetting uses pressurized water to blast away blockages, and it tends to cost about 30 percent to 50 percent more than cabling.
If for some reason the plumber has to remove and replace a fixture or part of a pipe under the sink, for example, the overall cost to have the drain cleaned will increase. Experienced plumbers can usually tell with a visual inspection if replacement of parts are necessary.
Type of pipes
The material used for plumbing pipes could affect the drain cleaning cost. Galvanized steel pipes, used most commonly in homes built between the 1930s and 1980s, have a zinc coating that can break down over time, causing discolored water, clogs and even lead contamination.
Some plumbers, including Everyday Plumber, also offer discounts to military service people or seniors. Many plumbing services also offer special deals and coupons on their websites. Prevent clogs by not allowing materials that cause them to get washed down the your bathroom and kitchen sink drains—hair and grease, in particular. In the kitchen, do not overload the garbage disposal.