What Every Homeowner Needs to Know About Drain Cleaning

What starts out as a slow drain can become a much more serious problem. If an obstruction in your home’s plumbing becomes severe enough, it can lead to premature pipe corrosion, leaks, and water damage. That’s why it’s important to view drain cleaning as not only a solution to clogs but a means of preventative maintenance for your plumbing.

Below, we’ll cover essential information that every homeowner should know about clogged drains and professional drain cleaning.

What Causes a Slow or Clogged Drain?

Several things have the potential to clog the pipes in your home’s drain-waste system. Food particles, grease, and soap scum are often common culprits. These items settle in the line, harden, and then make it impossible for water to go through. Tangled hair can also be a major clog-causer.

A lot of potential obstructions also come from what gets flushed down the toilet. In short, anything that is not toilet paper, “number one,” or “number two” should not be flushed down the toilet. “Flushable” wipes, facial tissue, napkins, and paper towels should also not be flushed because they don’t break down in water as easily as toilet paper and tend to cause blockages.

Even if you keep your drains trash-free and do your best to keep out garbage and grease, sediment can still build up on the inside of the pipes, restricting them over time. This can eventually lead to a slow drain or a clog if toilet paper or waste has difficulty passing through.

Issues with Chemical Drain Cleaners

Typically, you might think that you can clear a slow drain yourself by using a chemical drain cleaner. While this might work for some minor clogs near the surface of a drain, if the clog is bad enough, putting drain cleaner down the line is not going to be effective. If the cleaner contains corrosive chemicals, you can even harm your pipes if the chemicals end up getting trapped behind the clog in standing water.

For a long-term solution that is chemical-free and healthier for you and your plumbing system, it’s better to stick with a plunger. If that doesn’t work, you’ll need to use one of the more advanced methods described below.

Professional Drain Cleaning Methods

Plumbers have two main ways of approaching clogged drains: snaking and hydrojetting. Different factors will determine which method will be best for your home, such as the age of your pipes, where the obstruction or obstructions are located, or if you are getting drain cleaning performed as a part of routine maintenance.

Snaking (a.k.a. Cabling)

To unclog a drain, plumbers will often use a drain snake, also called a plumber’s cable or drain auger. The snake looks like a long, metal cable attached to a handle that can either be controlled manually or electronically. At the tip of the cable is a “corkscrew” hook--the auger. The plumber winds the snake down into the drain line, auger-first. The auger dislodges or hooks onto whatever is causing the clog in order to pull it out.


This method is also known as power jet cleaning. It involves a hose with a head that jets out water at various levels of high pressure. The other end of the hose is attached to a machine where the plumber can control the water pressure.

The plumber moves this hose through your plumbing to clear away obstructions and whatever might be coating your pipe walls. Because of the high water pressure involved, the plumber will complete a camera inspection of your pipes first to see if they can withstand the blasts of the jets. While snaking can be done on a DIY-basis, hydrojetting should only be performed by professionals to reduce the risk of injuring yourself or damaging your home.

How to Know If You Need Drain Cleaning

It is a good idea to always keep an eye on your plumbing system for any signs of an issue. The biggest clue is when water takes a long time to go down a drain. A gurgling toilet or gurgling pipes under a sink are other “red flags.” Even bad smells coming from a drain opening can signal a problem further down in the plumbing. If you notice any of these signs, it’s time to contact a plumber.

If you are experiencing any issues with your drain, call Morrison Plumbing, Heating and Air at (618) 352-5599 or contact us online to schedule a visit for our drain cleanings in Belleville.