How Much Does It Cost to Clean the Sewer Line?

Average range: $150 - $600
Low
$100
Average Cost
$250
High
$1,000
(main sewer line cleaning with minimal to no excavation to access the cleanout)

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How Much Does It Cost to Clean the Sewer Line?

Average range: $150 - $600
Low
$100
Average Cost
$250
High
$1,000
(main sewer line cleaning with minimal to no excavation to access the cleanout)

Get free estimates from pipe cleaning specialists near you
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Reviewed by Nieves Martinez. Written by Fixr.com.

Sewer lines are found in every home, but they aren’t usually paid much attention until something goes wrong. Most people only really think about the sewers when there is a serious clog or blockage. We even tend to put off routine maintenance without realizing the expensive damage that it can cause. Sewer line cleaning, when done regularly, can save a lot of hassle and a small fortune on repair costs. Professionals should be called immediately when there is a foul smell, a backed-up drain, or clogged sewer lines.

The national average rate for sewer cleaning prices ranges between $150 and $600, with most people paying around $250 for a standard sewer main clog cleaning without a video inspection. However, at the low end, you can spend around $100 for light-duty professional sewer cleaning with no serious clogs or blockages, while at the high end, you could spend up to $1,000 for hydro-jetting the main sewer line to resolve a full blockage.

Cost to Clean Sewer Line

Sewer Line Cleaning Cost
National average cost$250
Average range$150 - $600
Minimum cost$100
Maximum cost

$1,000


Sewer Line Cleaning Cost by Project Range

Low
$100
Professional cleaning using a snake
Average Cost
$250
Main sewer line cleaning with minimal to no excavation to access the cleanout
High
$1,000
Hydro-jetting the main sewer line to remove a full blockage

Sewer Line Cleaning Cost by Problem

Several problems can be resolved by having your sewer lines cleaned. Each has its exact methods and costs, but they all relate back to the general process of calling a plumber or drain cleaning professional to clear the pipes. Below, you’ll see a table of the most common problems and how much each one costs to resolve.


Sewer Line Cleaning Cost Chart


ProblemCost to Repair
Sewer Line Smell$100-$150
Backed Up Drain$150-$200
Clogged Sewer Line$250-$600


Sewer Line Smell

Many different things could cause your drains or sewer lines to emit a foul odor. It may smell rotten, or even like sewage in a worst-case scenario. Even if there aren’t other signs of a blockage or more serious problem, if you can smell your sewer lines at all, they probably need a good cleaning. While you can purchase drain cleaners from home improvement stores and other retailers, it’s often best to leave the cleaning to the professionals, because you never know how safe or effective those dangerous chemicals will be. A professional cleaning to remove a foul odor will typically cost between $100 and $150.

Backed Up Drain

A backed up drain could have several causes, including improper maintenance, putting things down the drain that shouldn’t be, or even a grease or hair blockage that’s slowing down the flow. If it is a main drain or line outside, tree roots could be in the way or there could be other dirt and debris built up due to breakdown and age. Depending on where the drain is located and how difficult it is to clean, the cost ranges between $150 and $200.

Clogged Sewer Line Cost

A clogged sewer line is typically an indication of a much larger problem. The main sewer line is much larger, and therefore typically able to handle a lot more volume, than the average drain in your home. If the sewer line is clogged, it could be from tree roots, dirt or sewage buildup, or even crumbling pipes that have aged and need to be completely replaced. The average backed up sewer line repair cost is around $250, provided that no camera inspection is needed. A video inspection with more work required can cost up to $600, on average.


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Sewer Cleaning Prices by Method

By and large, most people think of chemical drain cleaners when they think of the easiest or best way to clean a sewer line. However, there are several methods and some are more effective on certain jobs than others. For example, a full clog might require a professional line cleaning along with a visual inspection, while a simple grease clog might be dissolved with a good caustic cleaner. In the table below, you’ll find a list of the most common methods and their costs.


Sewer Cleaning Prices


Clearing MethodCost
Chemical Cleaner$20-$100
Snake$55-$175
Hydro-Jet$250-$1,000


Chemical Sewer Line Cleaner

While tempting, the available DIY chemical drain cleaners should probably be your last resort for clearing sewer lines and blocked drains. Sure, you can spend as little as $20 on premium home-use drain cleaners, but at what real cost? What if there is something more serious going on? At the very least, you’ve wasted money on something that doesn’t work. At worst, you’re creating bigger problems and turning a simple issue into a serious repair if you aren’t careful. Professionals may decide to use chemicals at their discretion, and you will typically spend around $80-$100 per service call for this type of treatment.

Cost to Snake Sewer Line

Sewer line rodding, or snaking, is a common practice. It’s so common, in fact, that people can find home-use drain snakes and rentals available from local hardware and home improvement stores. This can be dangerous, again, however, because the average person may not know how to properly snake a drain. While rentals start around an affordable $55 on average, it’s best to pay a professional, which will usually cost somewhere between $150 and $175, depending on the severity of the clog and how easy it is to access. Severe clogs, or those difficult to access, could cost twice as much or more.

Sewer Line Hydro-Jetting Cost

Hydro-jetting is like snaking the sewer line, but with water instead of a physical wire or hose. Because of the equipment used, it can be a little more costly than standard snake services, but it’s also gentler on the drains and can remove certain clogs and full blockages better. Hydro-jetting typically costs homeowners between $250 and $800, depending again on the accessibility and severity of the clog. Severe clogs could incur a water jet sewer cleaning cost of $1,000 or more.

Cost to Clean Sewer Line

The process of sewer line cleaning can be done through various means and is work generally performed by a licensed plumber. Plumbers typically charge an average hourly rate of $45-$200 for work that falls outside of specific jobs like those discussed above. Cleaning a sewer line can be accomplished through hydro-jetting, snaking, or the use of chemical drain cleaners. In extreme cases, full or partial replacement of the drain lines may be required, which will of course exponentially increase the cost of the repair project.

In the mid-range project mentioned above, where the average main sewer line cleaning cost is $250 without a video inspection, the job is typically charged at a project or flat rate. However, if it were charged hourly, most clogs require about 1-2 hours of work, so you would expect to spend $45-$400 on labor for a basic main line clog or cleaning.


Plumber cleaning an outdoor sewer line with a hydro jetter


Sewer Line Cleanout Cost

The sewer line “cleanout” refers to a specific part of the system, not the cleaning process discussed above. The cleanout is typically found near the base of the main stack in the home, and there is also a cleanout located in the yard somewhere, usually between the house and the street, that is used for access to the in-ground lines outside of the home. In some properties, however, the only access may be via a roof vent.

This part may sometimes break and need to be replaced, or it may just be determined that it would behoove your home to install a more accessible cleanout in your existing system for future needs. In either case, replacing the cleanout typically costs between $600 and $2,000, depending on the location of the line and the difficulty of replacement. Jobs that require extensive retrofitting or excavation will typically cost significantly more, while simple cleanout replacement or installation could be a fairly cheap job.


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Roto-Rooter Rates

When it comes to sewer line cleaning, Roto-Rooter is one of the most common household names. In fact, many people use the name as a noun to describe professional drain cleaning services, even when they’re not actually referring to the Roto-Rooter brand. However, this is a specialty product and company that provides its own unique methods of drain and sewer line clearing for various needs. Depending on the exact service needed, the average Roto-Rooter job ranges from $150 to $900, with most people spending about $400.

Roto-Rooter Cost to Snake Pipes

Pipe snaking services from Roto-Rooter are one of their most commonly offered solutions. Snaking is one of the most affordable and effective options for any plumber, after all. With the special design of the Roto-Rooter snake, their services may be even more effective than the typical drain snaking service. People can expect to spend between $140 and $600 on Roto-Rooter pipe snake services, depending on the location of the clog and the ease of access to the pipes or sewer lines in question.

Roto-Rooter Hydro-Jetting Cost

Hydro-jetting is another service offered by Roto-Rooter, who has plenty of methods for helping alleviate slow drains and clearing stubborn clogs. Using high-pressure water rather than a physical snake, this process thoroughly clears slow drains and can be a gentler option than shoving a metal wire or tube down the drain to clear a clog. However, this process also costs a bit more. When performed by Roto-Rooter technicians, hydro-jetting will cost an average of $500-$900.

Roto-Rooter Camera Inspection Cost

Roto-Rooter is unique in more than just the tools that it uses. The brand is also known for including the inspection of the area or sewer line in question with the cost of the overall project when an inspection is deemed necessary. That means that the average range will not change based on the added cost of a camera inspection like it might from other plumbers or service providers. A camera inspection can also be arranged on its own, at a cost of $295-$350, depending on the exact franchisee.

What Causes Sewer Backup?

Several issues can cause a sewer backup in the home or the lines on your property. The biggest issue is a broken, clogged, or collapsed drain or sewer line. This is a very common occurrence in older homes or in homes where materials like clay or iron were used. This can cause severe deterioration and corrosion over time, leading to breakdown and eventual failure. Because all this is happening underground, many people don’t notice until it’s too late and a lot more expensive than they anticipate.

Sewage backup can occur in all types of homes and for several reasons, though. It may be related to the improper installation of a cleanout, lack of access to proper drainage, or even improper flow of the drain system that is driving the waste right back into the home. Either way, this is a very dangerous situation and one that needs to be resolved immediately. Not only does it smell terrible and risk ruining your home, but it’s dangerous for your health to be breathing in raw sewage. You should call the professionals immediately and stay out of your home until the problem is resolved for your safety.

Signs Your Sewer Line is Clogged

When a clog or blockage is severe, it’s usually fairly obvious. However, there may be small, early signs of a sewer line clog that could be overlooked if you aren’t sure what to watch for. Keep an eye out for gurgling that may come from the sink or drains, such as gurgling in the toilet when you turn on the sink, or vice versa when you flush the toilet. You may also see water backing up in the bathtub, shower, or sink. Sometimes, the washing machine will cause sinks and toilets to overflow if there is a clog in the sewer line somewhere, too.

There are several warning signs to watch for, but the most important thing is to know what normal sewer line operation should look like. If you notice anything out of the ordinary, you will want to make sure that you take the time to call a plumber right away. The sooner that you can address a clog, the less expensive it will be. Be sure not to attempt any major unclogging efforts on your own, as you may cause more damage and cost yourself a small fortune more than necessary. Always call a professional whenever you suspect a sewer line clog.


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Enhancement and Improvement Costs

Sewer Line Replacement Cost

In some cases, the sewer line may not be able to be properly cleaned and repaired. This may mean that you will need to replace part or all of the main sewer line and/or drains leading into and out of your home. This could cost anywhere from a few thousand dollars up to $25,000 or more, depending on the complexity of the job, how much excavation is required, and how many linear feet of line will be replaced.

Sewer Line Video Inspection Cost

Sometimes, it is important to do a video inspection before beginning any sewer line cleaning or repairs. This can help the plumber get a better idea of exactly what is going on and what repairs may be required. Technology has made these inspections simple, thanks to advanced cameras that are small enough to be more accommodating than even the average drain snake. However, these inspections also include their own price. Typically, you can expect to spend about $300 more for having your sewer lines cleaned or repaired when a video inspection is required.

Storm Drain Cleaning Cost

Storm drains should be cleaned out every 18 to 22 months, even if they’re not clogged or backing up. They take in a lot of debris from the world around them and generally have more buildup than people realize. Fortunately, storm drain cleaning is a service that can be done at the same time as other cleaning or clog removals, by the same technician. Therefore, it will typically only incur a small additional charge if you’re already having work done. The average person spends about $200-$600 on this service depending on whether it is preventative or performed as a means to remove a clog or blockage.

Cost to Remove Roots from Sewer Line

Many main line clogs are caused by tree roots that have grown through old sewer lines that are made of brittle clay and other materials that have broken down over time. In some cases, these roots can be removed without having to remove or replace the entire sewer main line, but that isn’t always possible. The most important thing is to have the job done properly so that the sewer line can function as it should and to the best of its ability. The average cost of this project is $100-$600, with a cost of $50-$250 per foot for repairs or replacements in the line itself.

Sewage Backup Cleanup Cost

Sewage backup occurs when a serious blockage has built up or when the main drainage system has broken down or collapsed, leaving the sewage nowhere to go. Depending on the severity of the backup, there could be a lot of cleanup involved that could add up quickly. Replacing and/or repairing the pipes and sewer lines will typically cost between $1,000 and $5,000, while you may also need to hire damage restoration cleanup services, which typically charge around $7 per square foot of area needing to be cleaned. Because this is hazardous waste, you should never attempt the job yourself.

Cost to Unclog Main Drain

If the main drain is clogged in addition to other drains, you can expect to spend around $250 just to clear that drain alone. If the clog is more difficult, or if the main drain is hard to access, the cost could go into the thousands due to excavation, labor, and other expenses. A video inspection, as discussed above, could also increase the sewer drain cleaning cost if it is required to identify the clog prior to clearing.

Additional Considerations and Costs

  • You should always get 3-5 estimates before you hire anyone for a professional service, including sewer line cleaning jobs. If you have never had this service performed before, you might not know what a “typical” or “reasonable” rate would be until you shop around and compare a few offers. You might end up overpaying by a lot if you aren’t careful about doing your homework.
  • While there are DIY drain cleaners, snakes, and other drain cleaning tools available, it is not recommended that you attempt serious sewer cleaning or clog removal on your own. While it might seem to save money, it could cause a lot more problems because you aren’t even sure what problem you are trying to solve. At the very least, it may be ineffective and a waste of money. At worst, it could lead to thousands of dollars in repairs or replacement parts.
  • Check your local municipality regarding boundaries and responsibilities. Generally, it is the city or municipality’s responsibility to clean all public storm drains. However, systems that may be connected to these drains, such as cash basins, sump pumps, yard drainage pipes, and French drains, will be the responsibility of the property owner.
  • The severity of the job should be considered in how many additional costs you may incur. For example, you may have to pay for sewage cleanup, a camera inspection, toilet removal for drain access, or even a new cleanout installation that’s easier to access. This can all increase the cost of the total project significantly.
  • The best solution is to prevent clogs in the first place. Use hair traps in bathroom drains and avoid putting grease and food down any of the drains in your home. Make sure paper products are sewer-safe and don’t put anything down your drains if you aren’t sure it’s safe. Paints, oils, grease, hair, and other buildup are often the main source of serious plumbing clogs. A few dollars in prevention could save you thousands in repairs and drain cleaning. If there are trees near your main sewer line, make sure the roots aren’t growing through the line, which can be a serious source of clogs and system failures. Have roots removed or sewer lines re-routed to prevent this issue from creating problems in the future.
  • If you do experience serious drain backups, sewage backup, or other severe issues with your drainage and sewer system, you may be able to file a homeowner’s insurance claim to assist with the repairs and/or cleanup. This is not always possible, but you should get an estimate and discuss the situation with a plumber. They will be able to tell you whether the insurance can help or if this is something that has to come out of your pocket.
  • If the sewage backup puts you out of your home for an extended period, you may incur hotel or food costs, or other living expenses. You may also be able to file an insurance claim for the reimbursement for the living expenses while you were out of your home. Talk to your plumber to determine the best course of action if you are faced with this dangerous and unfortunate situation.

FAQs

  • How much does it cost to clean the main sewer line?

Cleaning the main sewer line costs about $250, which includes approximately two hours of labor ($90-$120) and the rest dedicated to equipment, parts, and accessories.

  • How much does it cost for a plumber to snake a sewer line?

Professional drain snaking is generally going to cost between $100 and $200, although it may cost more or less depending on the location and type of clog.

  • How much does it cost to Roto-Rooter a sewer line?

The average cost of Roto-Rooter service in the U.S. ranges from $160 to $450. Roto-Rooter refers specifically to service using this specialty tool by a branded company that is licensed to use the Roto-Rooter drain-clearing tool and methods, and their pricing includes inspections and will be determined based on the location and severity of the clog that needs to be cleared.

  • How often should you clean out your sewer line?

Although every home has different needs, main line cleaning is best done every 18-22 months, or whenever you have a clog or slow drainage issue. The best thing to do is to ask the professional who inspects your drains or sewer lines what they recommend.

  • How do I clean out my main sewer line?

If your main sewer line needs to be cleaned, you should call a plumber or drain cleaning professional to come out and diagnose the issue and provide the right solution.

Cost to clean the sewer line varies greatly by region (and even by zip code). To get free estimates from local contractors, please indicate yours.

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The information provided by our cost guides comes from a great variety of sources, including specialized publications and websites, cost studies, U.S. associations, reports from the U.S. government, contractors and subcontractors, material suppliers, material price services, and other vendor websites. For more information, read our Methodology and sources
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Cost to clean the sewer line varies greatly by region (and even by zip code). To get free estimates from local contractors, please indicate yours.

The information provided by our cost guides comes from a great variety of sources, including specialized publications and websites, cost studies, U.S. associations, reports from the U.S. government, contractors and subcontractors, material suppliers, material price services, and other vendor websites. For more information, read our Methodology and sources