How Much Does It Cost To Clean A Sewer Line?

Typical Range:

$178 - $495

Find out how much your project will cost.

Cost data is based on actual project costs as reported by 4,395 HomeAdvisor members. Embed this data

How We Get This Data

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  • Homeowners use HomeAdvisor to find pros for home projects.
  • When their projects are done, they fill out a short cost survey.
  • We compile the data and report costs back to you.

Updated May 25, 2022

Reviewed by Jeff Botelho, Licensed Journeyman Plumber.

Written by HomeAdvisor.

The cost to clean sewer lines comes out to around $336, with a typical range between $178 and $495. This cost varies according to several factors, such as the cleaning method used and the severity of the issue. 

A local sewer company may also send in a camera to the main line to identify and address any outstanding problems. Conducting a sewage line camera inspection costs $250 to $1,300, depending on the complexity of your line, among other considerations.

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National Average $336
Typical Range $178 - $495
Low End - High End $99 - $1,250

Cost data is based on actual project costs as reported by 4,395 HomeAdvisor members.

Average cost to clean a sewer line is $335, ranging from $100 to $600

Cost to Clean a Sewer Line by Method

There are a variety of methods to clean a sewer line, each with its own price range and preferred use case scenarios. The cleaning process generally starts with a local sewer cleaning professional sending a camera down the line to see what’s causing blockages or related problems. After that, they’ll recommend some fixes.

Cleaning Method Cost Range
Snaking/Rodding $100 – $250
Hydrojetting $350 – $600
Chemical treatments $580 – $100
Repair or replace $1,000 – $7,500

Snaking/Rodding

This is the most common way professional plumbers clean out sewer lines and remove any outstanding blockages. You’ll pay around $100 to $250 for this service, which amounts to an hour or so of labor depending on the issue and the size of your line. Here, plumbers send a thin metal wire down the line to pull out any debris causing a clog, such as grease and household items that accidentally went down the drain. 

Hydrojetting

This process clears out more debris than a snake or a rod, and it has a higher price tag to prove it. Hydrojetting costs between $350 to $600, with extraordinarily complex jobs running $1,000 or more. 

During this process, pros send a steady stream of water down the line instead of a wire or rod. As such, this process is gentler on the pipes than snaking or rodding. 

Chemicals

In some cases, plumbers rely on chemical agents to clean a sewer line, using stronger versions of store-bought products. This is the quickest and least labor-intensive way to clean the drains, so you’ll pay just $80 to $100 per service call. However, it doesn’t always work and these chemicals are not gentle on the pipes, leading to possible repair issues down the line. 

Repair or Replace

Sometimes, cleaning is not the preferred option, and a pro will recommend replacing your sewer line in the case of severe damage, such as burst pipes. In the case of minor damage, like small cracks running throughout some of your line, pros recommend repairing the pipes before going ahead with any cleaning procedure. 

As a matter of fact, cleaning damaged sewer pipes increases damage. In other words, talk to your pro, follow their advice, and don’t spring for cleaning until you have their go-ahead.

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3 Signs Your Sewer Line Needs Cleaning

You should clean your sewer line every 18 months or so, even if no obvious issues are present. However, here are some tell-tale signs you desperately need professional cleaning. 

Gurgling Sounds from Drain

If you regularly hear gurgling sounds from any drain in your home, there is likely a clog somewhere in the line. The gurgling sounds result from the clogged line releasing air into the water, which indicates the early stages of a backup. Your next indicator is usually water pooling around the drains. 

Water Pooling Around Drains

Water pooling up around available drains (or in the yard near the line) indicates you need a deep and thorough sewer system cleaning. Take a look at your drains and the appliances that use the sewer system, like washing machines and dishwashers, to suss out any pooling water. 

Even slow drains signal a clog somewhere in the line, so don’t wait until the water actually pools up to take action. 

Rotten Smells

Toilets smell from time to time, as do kitchen sinks, but if you regularly encounter rotten smells emanating from drains—particularly the smell of sulfur—you should bring a pro in for a cleaning. Slow drains are breeding grounds for bacteria build-up in the P-trap, resulting in that rotten egg smell. The same goes for any outstanding sewage smells emanating from deep within the line, indicating a clog. 

Cost Factors When Cleaning Your Sewer

Not all sewage systems are equal, with some requiring more or less labor and materials than others. As such, there are certain cost factors worth considering before you book a plumber for a service call. 

Method Chosen

As previously mentioned, each cleaning method boasts its own price range, with snaking costing $100 to $250, hydrojetting costing $350 to $1,000, and using chemical agents pricing out at $80 to $100. Hydro-jetting is the most effective method, the gentlest on the line, and the most expensive. 

Finally, there’s the proprietary Roto-Rooter cleaning method that involves a machine that cuts up debris and sucks it out. Roto-Rooter services cost $150 to $900. 

Sewer Age

The overall age of the sewer and related pipes impact what type of cleaning method is best for your system. Older systems demand careful consideration to avoid causing accidental damage. Pros recommend splurging for the camera inspection before the cleaning process in nearly every case here. 

Additionally, hydrojetting is the best method for older sewers, as it is the gentlest on aging pipes. 

Complexity of the Clog

Complex clogs require more time and labor and often beg for multiple pass-throughs with a snaking wire or a longer exposure to the hydro jets. An average clog takes professional plumbers one to two hours to clear at an hourly rate of $40 to $200. Complex clogs, on the other hand, are often double the time and financial commitment. 

Additional Damage

Unfortunately, sewer clogs lead to all kinds of damage when left untreated—all of which require professional fixes. You’ll pay $600 and $2,000 to replace the sewer cleanout, which is a part used to access the in-ground lines outside of the home. 

Removing any outstanding roots trapped in the line costs $100 to $600 or $50 to $250 per foot. Removing and properly disposing of hazardous waste trapped in the sewer backup costs $1,000 to $5,000

Finally, replacing the whole sewer line costs up to $25,000, depending on how much excavation is required and the linear feet of the system, with an average cost of $1,400. 

What is Roto-Rooter and How Much Does it Cost?

Roto-Rooter is a popular brand specializing in sewer and drain cleaning, using both proprietary and common methods. Standard treatment involves a pro sending a snake-type wire down the line outfitted with a motor and blade that cuts through clogs, making debris easier to suck up. This service ranges from $150 to $900, with an average cost of $400.

However, the company also provides traditional drain cleaning services. Snaking a drain through Roto-Rooter costs $140 to $600, hydrojetting costs $500 to $900, and a camera inspection costs $300 to $350. 

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DIY vs. Hiring a Professional

You’ll save on labor fees by going the DIY route, but hire a pro if you lack the expertise to do the job correctly. Additionally, professional sewer cleaners use expensive equipment, like hydrojetting machines, that cost up to $3,000 or more. Minor missteps here lead to accidental damage and even allow for dangerous sewer gases to enter your home. 

You can opt for store-bought chemical cleaners available at $5 to $50 per container, but these chemicals are not as effective as a proper snaking.

Repairing vs. Cleaning

Pros often recommend certain repair procedures meant to alleviate future cleaning costs and keep your system running smoothly. Cleaning fragile or damaged pipes could cause further damage, so many pros recommend the following sewer line repair procedures before going ahead with the cleaning. 

Pipe Relining Cost

Instead of laying down new pipes to replace damaged ones, many pros recommend placing a liner that reinforces the pre-existing pipe. This type of trenchless sewer line repair costs between $80 to $250 per linear foot, but lines are especially durable and help protect the pipes for up to 50 years

Repairing a Burst Pipe

Burst pipes are no joke, as they quickly lead to flooding. Repairing a burst pipe costs $60 to $200 per linear foot. This process involves sending a machine down that destroys, removes the old pipe, and lays a new one as it inches down the path. It is a delicate and time-consuming procedure, thus the relatively high cost for repairs. 

FAQs

How often should I clean my sewer line?

Experts recommend cleaning your sewer line every 18 to 22 months to prevent clogs from building up and causing damage to the pipes and related installations. Put it on a calendar and perform the cleaning procedure even if you experience no obvious signs of a clog. 

How long does it take to clean sewer pipes?

The average sewer-cleaning process takes around two hours, though complex jobs take up to four or five hours. However, repairing any damage caused by the clog takes longer, up to two or three days of work, depending on the severity. 

Do I need permits or approval to work on my sewer lines?

In most cases, permits are not necessary to clean a sewer, but conducting repairs is different. You’ll need the proper permits and approvals from the city for most repairs, but most pros have plenty of experience in this regard. 

How can I prevent sewer line clogs?

You can’t prevent every clog, as they naturally occur over time, but you can drastically reduce their frequency by following common-sense steps. Rely on trash cans or the garbage disposal to remove waste, limiting the number of solid materials that slink down the drain. Never flush problem items like dental floss, paper towels, cat litter, or even “flushable” wipes. Finally, conduct regular inspections and perform routine maintenance cleanings. 

Can I use liquid drain cleaners?

In some cases, yes, drain cleaners can be used as part of a general maintenance routine. Though budget-friendly, these chemicals are often too harsh for pipes and won’t help with major clogs. Talk to your pro beforehand to get the go-ahead. 

“Liquid drain openers are better suited to use as part of a regular maintenance program. Pouring a small amount down the drain after running your dishwasher or garbage disposal is a good idea,” says Jeff Botelho, Angi Expert Review Board member, and Massachusetts-licensed journeyman plumber. “Cleaning garbage disposals regularly will help keep excess material from entering the building sewer and causing a problem.”