Sewer Line Repair Basics

No one enjoys sewer line repair, but sometimes it has to be done. It’s messy, but it’s worth remembering that it’s cheaper to do it yourself than call in a specialist, and that’s good compensation. If you have clogs, however, the repairs aren’t too complex. If you have a basic knowledge of plumbing you can do it yourself.


Preparation is half the battle in sewer line repair. Be sure to have the tools for the job and that you dress appropriately. That includes old clothes, long gloves, and protection for your eyes and mouth. You shouldn’t need too many tools. Channel lock pliers will do much of the work, along with a wrench, spray lubricant and rubber drain plugs. The final part of the preparation is finding the main sewer line in the house. There can be more than one of them in the house.

Drain Outlets

The main sewer lines will have drain outlets. These will be threaded nuts that come out of a wall. Look for them in the basement, checking in the ceiling joists. Look in the areas where the plumbing leaves that bathrooms and the kitchen, as these are the most likely spots. Have a bucket with you. Loosen the nut, being certain that you have the bucket in place underneath it. Be aware that that waste water will be extremely messy and smelly.


A good snake is a vital part of any sewer line repair. It’s doesn’t need to be any longer than 25 feet; that should be ample for any in-home sewer line repair. You can buy one at the hardware store, although get the best you can afford, as the quality is important. The better the snake, the less the work you’ll need to do. Ideally, go for a flat snake since it will do the best job.

Using the Snake

Work the snake into the drain outlet you’ve opened. Push it down the line a little distance and then go back and forth with it before moving it ahead further. Continue repeating the process until you’ve gone as far as you can. To complete, pull the snake back toward you. This will pull the waste material, including clogs, out of the outlet—so be sure your bucket is there. When you’ve done this, go the other way along the pipe.

Completing the Job

Cleaning one of the lines is a start, but for full sewer line repair you’ll have to go through all the branch lines in the house. This takes time, and by the end of it you’ll really need a shower. Nonetheless, this kind of repair is vital to eliminate all the clogs in the sewer line and keep everything draining easily. It’s also a great deal more effective than any chemicals you might put down the drains.

To finish, make sure that all the drain plugs are replaced with new plugs. These will hold better and you’ll find they’ll open more easily the next time you need to undertake the job.