How to Unclog a Sewer Pipe

An area in the yard has been dredged up to expose sewer piping.
  • 1-2 hours
  • Advanced
  • 10-500
What You'll Need
Drain cleaner
Sewer snake

A clog in your sewer pipe can quickly lead to some foul-smelling problems. Waste can back up in your pipes, for example, and cause flooding at the other end. However, while, unclogging a sewer pipe is never an easy task, there are many approaches you can take. If one solution does not work, simply try another.

Step 1 - Assess the Damage

The very first thing that you will want to do is inspect the area to see how severe the clog is. This will make the difference when trying to remove the obstruction. Look specifically for areas where the sewage is leaking or not leaking.

Step 2 - Remove a Simple Clog

A simple clog is usually an easy fix. A liquid draining cleaner can clean or a household plunger is usually all your need to open the pipe. If using a plunger, plunge with strong motions up and down rapidly, several times in a row. You may have to repeat this cycle two or three times for it to take effect.

When using drain cleaner, just make sure that you take your time in assessing the damage and give the drain cleaner time to work. It is best to use this chemical several times a year to make sure that your system stays free of clogs.

Step 3 - Get Rid of a Larger Clog

If there is a larger clog, you may have to hunt down the sewer pipe outside your home to use a snake on it directly. The pipe will typically be white with a hole in the middle, sticking out of the ground. Take your sewer snake—both manual and automatic devices can work—and run it into the hole. Work it down until you encounter the clog. Then, hook the end of the snake into it until you can pull it up and out.

In the event that the sewer snake does not break up the obstruction, you may have to dig up the pipe to replace it. This typically has to be done by a professional and will be very expensive. If you do decide to do it yourself, keep in mind that it will be a massive job and you will have to have inspections from your county government.

Step 4 - Make Sure the Clog Doesn’t Happen Again

Once you have the pipe cleaned out, you will want to try and figure out what clogged it in the first place. If you need to use a different kind of toilet paper or not flush things down the toilet, for example, do so. Flushing things like paper towels down your toilet can lead to massive clogs and so can using the wrong kind of toilet paper. The best way to get problematic pipes taken care of for good is to have a plumber look at them. Of course, this will cost money, but it will help you in the long run.