A wastewater backup and drain clogs can interrupt your entire home plumbing system. The water cannot drain away, and you may have dirty water to clean away before it causes damage. The first response should be to attempt to clear a clog yourself using a cup plunger and then a plumbing augur. Avoid chemical cleaners because they can damage your plumbing pipes. In many cases, these efforts will clear the clog, but if it continues to return or it’s located further into the drain, you will need expert help. A professional plumber has the experience and specialist tools to fix the problem, but what actually happens during a drain cleaning service?
Contacting the Plumbing Company
As soon as you realize that you cannot clear the clog yourself, it’s time to contact your local plumbing company. They will come to your home and gather some information about the scale of the problem. Every plumbing company will work in a slightly different way, but broadly speaking, they will all carry out the following seven steps.
Asking questions: The plumbing technician will want to learn more about the background of your home and the plumbing system. This will involve a series of questions to discover the frequency and types of plumbing problems you may have had in the past.
Explaining the process: Most plumbing company representatives will take some time to explain how their own diagnostic process is carried out. Generally speaking, this should involve a sewer line inspection with a camera followed by a drain cleaning service.
Diagnostic checks: The plumber will test your plumbing fixtures to see how they behave and gather more information. The location of the backups will be noted, and this will help the plumber to work out which tools they will need to clean the drain.
Preparing for the service: The plumber will ensure that there is clear access to the area where the service will take place. Then a good plumbing company will put down some drop cloths to protect your surfaces.
Using the drain cleaning machine: The cleaning process can no commence, the machine will manually remove the clog and clear the sewer line of backed up material. But, if the clog is out of the line and it cannot be cleared, the plumber should recommend a camera inspection to find out what is going on.
Testing the water flow: After the sewage has been drain out of the sewer line, it’s time to run a few tests. The plumber will run the water on several of your plumbing fixtures simultaneously to test how the water is flowing and draining.
Confirming the cleaning: The plumber should carry out a final camera inspection to discover the initial cause of the clog and to confirm its removal. At this point, it’s common to find broken or damaged sewer lines that need repair or replacement. If this work is not carried out, the clog is likely to return persistently until the underlying cause is fixed.
A drain cleaning service should take around 1-2 hours, depending on the access and the complexity of the sewer system. If your drain line is broken or damaged, this is typically fixed in a follow up visit at a mutually convenient time.
Preparing for a Drain Cleaning Service Visit
Before the plumber arrives to clear the drains, there are four steps that you can take to make the process smoother and minimize disruption.
Ensure easy access: Take some time to clear a path from your front door or the door that will be used to the access point for the drain. The cleared path should be at least 3 feet wide to accommodate the drain cleaning equipment.
Protect your property: Whenever you have work carried out in your home, there’s always a risk that your personal property could be accidentally damaged. So, it’s a great idea to remove any personal items from the access point, path, and working area. This typically includes items, such as photographs, pictures, antiques, and any items stored under an affected sink.
Remove the sewage: If you have experienced a sewage backup, there may be a few inches of sewage waste in the working area. This will slow the plumber down, and the material should be removed before they even arrive on site. A local remediation company can remove the waste for you, so the area is clear and ready.
Be prepared for bad news: Sadly, the majority of drain cleaning operations uncover a break or damage that’s causing the problems. Any defect that affects the easy flow of sewage is progressive in nature, and the end result is a total sewer system failure. It’s a great idea to prepare yourself for the possibility that further repair work or even a replacement may be necessary.
Preventing Drain Clog Problems
Many minor drain clog problems can be avoided altogether if the following three steps are taken.
Watch what goes in the drain: The drain is designed to remove wastewater and a certain level of smaller particles of waste. But, many people place waste in the drain that will contribute to the formation of a drain clog. A substantial drain clog may contain materials, such as hair, grease, food waste, soap scum, dental floss, and many others. All waste should go in the trash, and the drain will be better protected from clogs.
Install hair traps: The greatest binding materials that hold a drain clog together are grease and hair. The best way to keep hair out of your drains is to install a hair trap in each sink, tub, and the bottom of the shower stalls.
Avoid using chemical drain cleaners: When a drain clog appears, the first reaction for many people is to use a harsh caustic drain cleaner. This is typically a powder or gel that’s poured into the drain to melt the clog. These types of store bought cleaners can damage the drain lines, and they should be avoided. A professional plumber will always remove a clog manually without resorting to harsh chemicals that will damage the plumbing system.
If you have problems with a drain clog or sewage backup, contact a local certified plumber for expert help.
By Giovanni Longo President Flood Brothers Plumbing
Giovanni Longo is a 3rd generation master plumber who has been practicing his craft and trade in the greater Los Angeles area for well over a decade and a half. A plumbing and hydraulics-engineering innovator, Giovanni’s particular world-class expertise focuses on dealing with challenging sewer system designs as well as resolving complex commercial and residential draining issues. As a certified Flood Mitigation expert, he is also well versed in a wide variety of water damage and remediation solution.