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F.H. Furr's Plumbing, Heating, Cooling & Electrical Insider Blog

What Everyone Needs to Know About Rootering a Main Drain

You don’t have to be a plumber in Alexandria, Va., to keep your pipes flowing smoothly. If you’re a die-hard DIYer, here’s what you need to know about rootering a main drain. First, make sure the problem truly is the main pipe. Clogs typically occur in smaller pipes close to the drain because of the simple fact that they’re narrower and more easily blocked. Before you undertake the task of rootering a main pipe, make sure the blockage isn’t easier to remove than you think. Try plunging, snaking and some good old-fashioned hot water to see if that helps eliminate the problem.

If you’ve ascertained that the problem is in the main pipe, you’ll need to go at it from the cleanout plug. Find the nearest plug that’s below the clogged drain. Newer homes have many of these (frequently under sinks), but in an older home there may only be one plug somewhere in the basement. Once you’ve found the plug, put a bucket beneath it. If the clog is below the cleanout plug, wastewater will pour out when you remove it. Use a wrench or large pliers to unscrew the plug – and be sure to stand back!

Once the plug is off and any wastewater has been expelled, begin by snaking the drain. Simply feed a snake into the cleanout until you hit resistance, and then pull back the tape to remove the clog. Replace the cleanout plug and run hot water through the drain to break up what’s left of the clog. If the water still runs slowly, try plunging. If necessary, use the snake again.

If you can’t find the cleanout plug or can’t remove it, look for a house trap in the basement. A house trap is a U-shaped section of pipe with a cleanout plug on each of the legs. Remove the plugs and snake the trap, then run the snake through the drain line on either side of the trap and remove any blockages.

Of course, it goes without saying that if after all that work your drain is still clogged, it might be time to call a professional plumber in Alexandria. We’ll be waiting for your call.