Drain cleaning for removing clogs and backups

Diagnostic drain cleaning and sewer jetting for Baltimore area homes

Slow drains, clogged pipes, mysterious odors, and sewer backups are irritating plumbing problems that any homeowner dreads. Fortunately, drain cleaning can often relieve these annoyances. As one of the most used portions of a home's plumbing system, drains often develop root or sludge problems that lead to backups and clogs. When toilets stop flushing, and other plumbing fixtures stop draining, a drain clean is the go-to solution for fixing the problem.

If you are a Baltimore area homeowner, you have probably noticed the wide range of plumbers and prices available for drain cleaning. We have too, so we decided to harness our three generations of plumbing experience to create this guide for our neighbors. C.A. Taciak & Sons believes that you can make the best investments for your home after you educate yourself on the problem at hand. This guide to drain cleaning will walk you through the steps and solutions available to your home so you know exactly what your money is getting you. If you are ready to schedule your drain cleaning with C.A. Taciak & Sons, give us a call.

If you would like to know if a C.A. Taciak & Sons drain cleaning service is right for your home, read on. This comprehensive article covers drain cleaning from beginning to end. Please use the links below to jump to a particular section:

What is a Drain Clean?EffectivenessEquipmentSigns of a ProblemCostSchedule a Drain Clean |  FAQ

What is drain cleaning?

A drain cleaning refers to clearing blockages, clogs, and backups from sewer or drain piping using a specialized drain cleaning machine. This tool moves a specialized cleaning head through any blockages within a problem pipe and gets drains and sewers flowing again. It is a great first step to resolving most home plumbing drain problems.

Drain cleaning can alleviate many sewer, septic, and rain leader line problems. When a drain stops working for the first time, cleaning is often highly effective. When performed by a professional plumber, drain cleaning provides a lot of information about problems in the pipe, such as where the problem is, what caused it, and how significant it is. These insights give homeowners powerful information to help solve their drain and sewer issues.

How effective is drain cleaning?

Not all drain and sewer issues require serious solutions. Perhaps your child flushed a toy dinosaur down the toilet. It wouldn't make sense to excavate your yard, cut apart your sewer, remove the toy, and reassemble everything, all for a one-time issue. Drain cleaning is tremendous for fixing one-off plumbing problems like these.   

 On the other hand, drain cleaning is not always practical for more severe problems. A drain clean is just a band-aid on the existing problem if a pipe has a severe defect or root intrusion. Serious issues in your home's sewer, septic, or rain leaders need complete repair, or they will continue to create problems for you and your home.

Drain cleaning machines, snakes, and jetters

If you've walked through the plumbing section of your local hardware store, you have seen small D.I.Y. grade drain snakes available for purchase. You may wonder, "can I just do my own drain cleaning?" 

At first, this may seem like a good idea. If you could do your own drain cleaning every month, you would never need to repair your damaged drain pipes. However, drain cleaning is much more complicated than it appears on the surface. If done incorrectly, drain cleaning can inflict extreme damage on your property and yourself. Why is this?

The dangers of consumer-grade drain snakes

First, consumer-grade drain machines are meant for the small pipes immediately under a sink or tub and cannot handle tearing through blockages in your home's larger drain pipes. When used in main building drain lines like septic or sewer lines, these small snakes tangle into themselves. Once knotted up, pulling this cable from the pipe is extremely difficult and ripping this tangled line out often inflicts more damage to your drain line - if you can remove it at all.  

On the other hand, if you manage to rent or buy a larger professional-grade drain machine, you will face a very different set of problems. The power and torque required to clear difficult blockages mean operating these machines is very dangerous. It is not unusual for even skilled operators to accidentally break a finger or wrist while working. More serious harm can also occur from infections transmitted by the sewer water itself. Why risk getting infected with a pathogen from your own sewerage?  

Why risk your home and health when a skilled drain cleaner is just a phone call away? A trustworthy plumber will always use professional-grade equipment and know how to use it properly. C.A. Taciak & Sons is a licensed, insured, and expert drain cleaning contractor that brings the right tools to solve your sewer and drain issues.  

So, what tools will your expert drain cleaner bring to the job? There are a few types of professional drain cleaning machines; drum machines, sectional cable machines, and sewer jetters.

Drum machines

A drum machine is a drain cleaning tool consisting of a "drum" holding a long length of tightly wound steel cable. The end of this steel cable has an attachment point for a variety of different cutting and boring heads. An electric motor spins this drum, and an operator feeds the spinning cable into the pipe from the drum. Compact drum machines are excellent tools for smaller drains and interior drain lines such as sinks, tubs, and showers.

Sectional cable machines

A sectional drain machine consists of an electric motor connected to a powerful clutch mechanism. This clutch and motor spin a 10-15' section of heavy-duty steel cable through the pipe. This cable has an attachment system that allows multiple cable sections to connect and allows a wide selection of cutting and boring heads to attach to the end.  

Sectional cable machines are stronger and more compact than drum machines and use thicker cables with excellent boring ability. The motor powering the cable gives it the strength to tear through almost any pipe blockage. Sectional drain machines work best in pipes 2″ to 6″ in diameter, and this makes them an excellent tool for residential exterior sewer line and rain leader maintenance.

A drawing of a man operating a sectional drain cable machine, feeding it into a sewer pipe running under a tree

Sewer jetting

A sewer jetter is a large pressure washer designed to clean the inside of drain and sewer pipes. It utilizes a long hose with a scouring nozzle on the end to blast away and flush out any blockages from inside pipes. Sewer jetters are very effective at cleaning root intrusion out of sewer lines and severe sludge levels from other drains. We like to think of sewer jetters as a "clean shave" compared to the "haircut" of a standard cable drain cleaning. Not every drain or sewer issue requires sewer jetting, but it is an excellent option before digging up the problem pipe for repair or replacement.

Symptoms of drain blockages

Blocked sewers and drains often begin with minor side effects for your home. However, as the blockage grows, so do the related problems. What starts as a slow drain soon becomes a sewage backup in your basement. It is always better to catch issues early while you have more drain cleaning options. Keep an eye out for the common symptoms of a sewer or drain blockage:

  • Slow or non-draining drains

  • Bubbling or gurgling as a pipe drains

  • Strange noises coming from a drain pipe

  • Foul odors coming from drains or sump-pumps

  • Sewage backups

  • Water pooling near rain leaders

These problems are frustrating and inconvenient, but C.A. Taciak & Sons are here to help no matter how difficult the situation. We are expert drain cleaners and underground plumbing repair specialists. If your home is experiencing any of these clogged sewer or drain symptoms, please call us.  We would be happy to schedule a drain cleaning to alleviate your plumbing problems.

Drain cleaning and sewer jetting costs for Baltimore area homes

The price range for drain cleaning and sewer jetting can be confusing. Some companies advertise free drain cleaning, while others charge hundreds or even thousands of dollars. How much should drain cleaning cost, and what should you get for your money? 

First, understand that drain machines are very powerful, and an improperly performed drain clean can add extra stress to your already damaged pipes. When misused, these tools can easily burst through the fragile pipes inside your home's building drain system. This creates leaks, damages ceilings, cracks delicate plumbing fixtures, and so on. It is also possible for a drain cable to be pushed too far off of your property's edge. Sending it into the municipal sewer system is an easy mistake, and getting a drain cable stuck there can damage the pipes that service the entire neighborhood. Another potential problem is when a drain cable accidentally goes too far into your septic system and hurts the delicate parts of your septic tank. As you can see, having a properly performed drain cleaning is extremely important to the health and function of your home's plumbing.

So what should it cost? We find that cheap drain cleans mean one of two things. Either an inexperienced technician that doesn't know what they are doing is coming, or an experienced salesperson is on their way to use the drain cleaning as a trap to fearmonger you into an unnecessarily destructive and expensive plumbing repair. On the other end of the spectrum, many plumbers charge hundreds and hundreds of dollars for drain cleaning and don't even include a camera inspection and locate to show what happened and how well the drain clean did. You deserve as much information as possible so you aren't wasting your hard-earned money.    

Not all plumbers are proficient drain cleaners, and not all drain cleaners provide the same level of service. We understand the irritation and frustration of dealing with a sewer or drain issue, and we're here to help.  C.A. Taciak & Sons has over 70 years of experience servicing sewer and drain issues for homes in the Baltimore area. Our cable drain cleaning services start at $375 for simple sewer issues and include a camera inspection and locate. If you have more severe sewer or drain problems, we also provide sewer jetting services starting at around $2,000.

Frequently asked questions about drain cleaning

I have a clogged pipe. Can I just use Draino or a similar chemical to fix the problem?

Drano and other chemicals can eat through the sides of pipes. If the chemical can't break through the blockage in the pipe, it sits inside and pools up. Drain cleaning chemicals are acidic and pose a significant health risk to any plumber coming to fix your drain and you, the homeowner. It is best not to use these "miracle chemicals" no matter how tempting a quick fix may be. If the chemical is strong enough to eat through a blockage, it is strong enough to eat through the pipe or, worse, your skin.

Can I use a snake I rented from Home Depot to fix my clogged drain?

It can be tempting to do a "D.I.Y." drain clean. As mentioned above in our article, consumer-grade drain snakes often do more harm than good. Drain snakes from hardware stores like Lowe's and Home Depot are smaller than their professional counterparts and are meant only for the tiny pipes immediately below your sinks and tubs. Sending these drain cables deeper into your home's plumbing makes them get tangled and stuck. Ripping these cables out can harm your drain pipes if and when this happens.

Even using a larger rented drain machine poses serious risks. If improperly used, large and powerful drain equipment can seriously harm both operator and plumbing. Is it worth a broken finger, hand, or several thousands of dollars in plumbing damage to save around a few hundred bucks? The cost required to repair the pipes you damaged doing a "D.I.Y." drain clean is much higher than the price of a good quality drain cleaning. In the long run, hiring a professional drain cleaner is actually the more affordable option.

How long does drain cleaning take?

Most drain cleaning takes two to three hours. Call us to schedule a professional drain cleaning for your home.

How long does a drain cleaning last?

That depends upon the severity of the problem that caused the pipe to require attention. A drain cleaning can last for years…or days. A diagnostic camera inspection paired with professional drain cleaning can determine the underlying problems in your pipe and give a better picture of how long you have until your pipe backs up again. Once we know what's going on inside your drain or sewer, we can advise the best course of action for you and your home. Sometimes, it makes more sense to spend money on an occasional drain clean instead of replacing or repairing your home's sewer or septic system.  However, if the problem is severe, it is always better to repair or replace the problem pipe.

Can drain cleaning damage my pipes?

The short answer is yes. Most drain blockages occur because there is a problem in the pipe. However, professional drain cleaners do their best to avoid further damaging the inside of a pipe. Drain machines are powerful tools that can puncture old and delicate piping, and a drain cable can easily rip through plumbing or become stuck in the line even when correctly operated. Because of this, it is best to trust drain cleaning to a professional that will do their best to minimize any further harm to your plumbing system. Not all plumbers are knowledgeable drain cleaning specialists. Be careful to avoid the trap of cheap drain cleaning "specials."

My pipe isn't clogged, it's just draining slowly. Will drain cleaning help?

A slow drain indicates something is in the pipe impeding the flow of water. If your drain is running slowly, drain cleaning can absolutely help. But you don't need to wait for a professional solution. You, as a homeowner, can also do things to speed up a slow drain. Using a homemade drain cleaning solution can often clear out minor blockages. Placing a strainer over a shower or tub drain prevents hair from being tangled in the line. When disposing of grease, let it cool and then dump it into the trash. Never pour grease down a drain. If these simple tips aren't enough, please give us a call and schedule a drain cleaning.

Can a drain clean get my pipes open until you are able to fix the underlying problem?

In many situations, a drain cleaning keeps our client's plumbing open and usable until we are available to complete their sewer/septic repair or replacement. If a drain cleaning cannot get your pipes open, we can often move you up in our repair schedule. Our client's health and plumbing are our greatest priority.