Drain Cleaning for alleviating clogs and backups

Drain Cleaning Specialist in Baltimore, Maryland

Drain issues in your home are irritating.  Slow draining pipes, clogs, and mysterious odors are plumbing problems that all homeowners dread.  Fortunately drain cleaning can often relieve these annoyances.  Drain cleaning is a method of opening and fixing slow draining drain lines, blocked piping, and backed up sewers.  As one of the most used portions of a home’s plumbing system, drains often develop root or sludge problems that lead to backups or 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 homeowner in the Baltimore area, you may have noticed that there is a wide range of plumbers – and prices – available when it comes to drain cleans.  We have harnessed 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.  We are proud to be both a resource and skilled craftsmen for our clients.  This guide to drain cleaning will walk you through the steps and solutions available to your home.  If you are ready to schedule your drain clean with C.A. Taciak & Sons, please get in touch at (410) 960-2667.  If you would like to know if a C.A. Taciak & Sons drain cleaning service is right for your home, read on.

In this very thorough article, you will find a few different drain cleaning topics.  Although we recommend making yourself familiar with all facets of a drain clean, we know time is money!  Use the links below to jump to the particular section you are interested in:

What is a drain clean?  |  Effectiveness  |  Equipment  |  Signs of a problem  |  Cost  |  Schedule a drain clean  |  FAQ

What is a drain clean?

A drain clean is the process of clearing blockages and backups from drain piping using a drain cleaning machine.  A drain cleaning machine consists of the drain machine itself along with a long steel cable with a cutting head inserted into the piping.  A mechanical drain cleaning machine works by accessing the problem pipe through an access point. The drain line is access through a cleanout or by removing a toilet.  If a drain clean is being performed on a rain leader system, access is achieved by removing the downspout.

Once inside the pipe, the drain machine cable is pushed down the line.  A specialized cutting head on the end of the cable slices through any blockages.  It is particularly great at removing roots and debris that may be causing backups in your home’s drain line.  The metal coils on the sides of the drain cable also scour the sides of your pipe.  This scouring action scrubs off the dregs and remains sticking to the side of the pipe.  This two prong attack fixes many sewer, septic, and rain leader line problems.

A drain clean is a great first step to resolving most home plumbing problems.  When a drain stops working for the first time, cleaning is often highly effective.  When performed by a professional plumber, a drain clean can show a great deal about the problems occurring in the pipe.  A drain clean can give a basic idea of where the problem is, what caused it, and how significant it is.  This is very powerful information for homeowners.  The insight provided by a drain clean shows how serious your drain problem is.

A cross section illustration of a plumber performing a drain clean on a sewer pipe with a root clog

How effective is a drain clean?

Drain cleans are tremendous for fixing fluke plumbing problems.  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.  This is a problem that can be resolved with a drain clean…and maybe a little discipline.

On the other hand, a drain clean is not a practical solution for more severe problems.  If a pipe has a defect or root intrusion, a drain clean is just a band-aid on the existing problem.  Serious damage to your home’s sewer, septic, or rain leaders should be completely repaired or it will continue to create problems for your home.

Drain machines and snakes

If you’ve walked through the plumbing section of your local hardware store, you may have seen that drain snakes are available for purchase.  You may be wondering “can I just do my own drain clean?”  At first, this may seem like a good idea.  If you could do your own drain clean every month, there would be no need to ever repair your damaged drain pipes.  However, there is more than meets the eye to a drain clean, and if done incorrectly, an extreme amount of damage can be inflicted to your property and yourself.

Consumer grade drain machines are built to service the small pipes immediately under a sink or tub.  They can not handle tearing through blockages in your home’s larger drains.  When used in larger building drain pipes like septic or sewer lines, these small snakes tangle into themselves.  Once knotted up, it is extremely difficult to pull this cable from the pipe.  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 do manage to rent or buy a larger professional grade drain machine, you may be faced with a very different set of problems.  The power and torque required to clear difficult blockages means that these machines can be very dangerous to operate.  It is not unusual for even skilled operators to accidentally break a finger or a wrist during a drain clean.  More serious harm can occur from infections transmitted by the sewer water itself.  It is imperative for you and your home’s health to trust a skilled drain cleaner with you drain problems.  Your plumber should always be using professional grade equipment and know the proper way to use it.  C.A. Taciak & Sons is a licensed, insured, and expert drain cleaning contractor.

So what tools will your expert drain cleaner bring out to the job?  There are two types of professional drain machines – also known as snakes.  They are drum machines and sectional cable machines.

Drum machines

A drum machine is a drain cleaning tool consisting of  a “drum” that contains a long length of tightly wound steel cable.  The end of the 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

A sectional drain machine consists of an electric motor connected to a heavy duty clutch mechanism.  This clutch and motor spins a 10-15’ section of heavy duty steel cable through the pipe.  This cable has an attachment system that allows multiple sections of cables to join together.  There are also a wide selection of cutting and boring heads available to attach to the end.  Sectional cable machines are stronger and more compact than drum machines.  They use thicker cables that have an excellent boring ability.  The motor and clutch behind the cable give it the power to tear through almost any blockage in the pipe.  Sectional drain machines works in pipes 2″ to 6″ in diameter and even larger in some situations.  This makes them a great tool for exterior sewer line and rain leader maintenance.

Symptoms of drain blockages

Blocked drains create frustrating problems in your home.  Drain clogs often start out with small side effects.  However, as the blockage continues to grow, so do the corresponding problems.  What started as a slow drain can soon turn into a sewage backup in your basement.  It is better to catch problems early so that they may be successfully resolved by a drain clean.

Common symptoms of a drain blockage are:

  • 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 can be resolved.  No matter how difficult the problem, C.A. Taciak & Sons are expert drain cleaners and underground plumbing repair specialists.  If your home is experiencing any of these clogged drain symptoms, please get in touch.  We would be happy to schedule a drain clean to alleviate your plumbing problems.

Drain cleaning cost

Not all plumbers are created equal.  Homeowners are often confused by the range in pricing for a drain clean.  Some companies advertise that their drain cleans are free.  Others come with a price tag of several hundred dollars.  How much should you pay for a drain clean?  If the price seems too good to be true, that’s probably because it is.  An improperly performed drain clean can add extra stress to your already damaged pipes.

When performing a drain clean, it is very important to be mindful of how much cable is being used and which direction it is being sent.  Drain machines are extremely powerful.  When used in an incorrect manner, they can burst through fragile pipes inside your home’s building drain system.  This creates leaks, damages ceilings, and cracks fragile plumbing fixtures.  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 – but illegal – mistake to make.  Getting a drain cable stuck inside the municipal sewer system can damage the pipes that service the entire neighborhood.  If a drain cable is accidentally sent into your septic system, the delicate parts of your septic tank can become damaged.  As you can see, having a drain clean done properly is extremely important to the health and function of your home’s plumbing.

Just like not all doctors are surgeons, not all plumbers are proficient drain cleaners.  Cheap drain cleans are often a trap used to fear monger you into an unnecessarily destructive and expensive plumbing repair.  As homeowners ourselves, we understand the fear and frustration that comes from a serious repair diagnosis.  If you are not convinced that your plumbing needs repair to the level or price quoted to you, we are happy to help.  C.A. Taciak & Sons frequently offers second opinions to verify the plumbing problem diagnosis from other plumbing companies.

If you suspect that your home does need a drain clean, we are the professionals for you.  C.A. Taciak & Sons has over 70 years of experience servicing homes in the Baltimore area.  We are especially skillful in performing drain cleans on the delicate plumbing of older historic homes.  If you live in an architecturally significant home, a C.A. Taciak & Sons drain clean may be a good fit for your family.  Our drain clean services begin at $350, and can be scheduled as soon as possible.

C.A. Taciak & Sons Baltimore Drain Cleaning F.A.Q.


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

Drano and other chemicals can eat through the side of the pipe.  If the chemical can’t break through the blockage in the pipe, it sits inside and pools up.  Drain cleaning chemicals are essentially acid, so they can pose a significant health risk to any plumber that comes to fix your drain, as well as 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 got from Home Depot to fix my blocked drain?

It can be tempting to do a DIY drain clean.  As mentioned above in our article, consumer grade drain snakes often do more harm than good.  Drain snakes from hardware stores like Lowes and Home Depot are small in size.  They are designed to work only in the 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.  Even using a larger rented drain machine poses serious risks.  If improperly used, large and powerful drain equipment can seriously harm its operator.  Is it worth a broken finger, hand, or worse to save around a hundred dollars?  The cost required to repair the pipes you damaged doing a DIY drain clean is much higher than the price of a good quality drain clean.  It is always much more affordable to hire a professional drain cleaner in the long run.

How long does a drain clean take?

Typically a drain clean with an experienced contractor takes two to three hours. Give us a call to schedule a professional drain clean for your home.

How long is a drain clean good for?

That depends upon the severity of the problem that caused the pipe to require attention.  A drain clean’s effect can last for years…or days.  A diagnostic camera inspection coupled with a professional drain clean can determine the underlying problems in your pipe.  Once a better picture of your home’s plumbing is established, we can advise you on the best course of action to take.  In some cases it makes more sense to spend money on an occasional drain clean as opposed to replacing or repairing your home’s sewer or septic system.  However, if the problem is severe, it is more beneficial to install a repair or replacement.

Can a drain clean cause damage to my pipes?

If done incorrectly, a drain clean can damage the plumbing in your home.  Drain machines are powerful tools that can puncture delicate piping.  If incorrectly operated, a drain cable can rip through plumbing or become stuck in the line.  It is best to trust drain cleaning to a professional.  Not all plumbers are knowledgeable drain cleaning specialists.  Be careful not to fall into the trap of cheap drain cleaning “specials.”  Any home repair is an investment in the value of your property and your family’s health.

My drain isn’t clogged, it’s just running slowly. Will a drain clean help?

A slow drain indicates that there is something in the pipe impeding the flow of water.  If your drain is running slowly, a drain clean can absolutely help.  There are also things that you as a homeowner can do to speed up a slow drain.  Heating a kettle and pouring the hot water down the drain often loosens debris and flushes it out.  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 clean.

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

In many situations, we perform a drain clean to keep our client’s plumbing working until we are available to complete their sewer/septic repair or replacement.  If a drain clean is not effective in getting your pipes open, we often are able to move you up in our schedule to perform the repair.  Our homeowner’s happiness and health are our greatest priority.  We understand the inconvenience of plumbing problems and work tirelessly to give superior customer service.