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Roto-Rooter Guide: Sewer Cleaning & Costs Explained

Roto-Rooter Guide: Sewer Cleaning & Costs Explained

Roto-Rooter has a national presence, serving almost every U.S. community with a population of at least one. They have the necessary equipment to detect and solve underground pipe problems, and their camera inspection can locate missing clean-outs and measure the distance between them.

Roto-Rooter also offers earth-friendly plumbing products through their ROTOGreen program. With 24/7 emergency plumbing and drain services, Roto-Rooter is a trusted plumber for homeowners in crisis. In this guide, we will explain sewer cleaning and the costs associated with common services provided by Roto-Rooter.

What is Sewer Line Cleaning?

The complex network of pipes beneath our homes can often become clogged with tree roots, debris, and other obstructions. Enter sewer line cleaning.

  • Describe the process of sewer line cleaning: It's a methodical process that involves inspecting the sewer lines, identifying obstructions, and then employing a suitable method to clear them. This may include using a drain snake to break apart obstructions or hydro jetting to clean out debris forcefully.

  • Importance of regular maintenance: Like regular health check-ups, our sewer lines also need routine cleaning to prevent clogs and backups. This not only ensures smooth operation but also extends the life of your plumbing system.

  • Different methods: While manual snakes are a common tool, hydro jetting offers a more powerful solution for stubborn clogs. Additionally, chemical cleaners, if used judiciously, can offer a preventive measure to keep pipes clean and clear.

Hourly Rate vs. Flat Rate

Understanding the difference in billing methods can help customers make an informed choice when hiring services.

  • Hourly Rate: Roto-Rooter, like many plumbing companies, sometimes bills based on an hourly rate. This rate can range from $45 to $200, depending on various factors. The company often offers promotions to make their services more affordable.

  • Flat Rate: Alternatively, a flat rate provides a predetermined price, ensuring transparency and predictability for the customer. This rate won't change, irrespective of the time to complete the job, making budgeting easier for homeowners.

Factors That Affect the Cost of Sewer Line Cleaning

When considering having your sewer lines cleaned, it's essential to understand that several distinct factors can influence the final cost. Here's a comprehensive look at the elements that play a crucial role in determining your total bill.

Zip Code 

Your geographical location holds significant weight in determining costs. Specifically, the ZIP Code in which the service is rendered can dictate charges, as it often mirrors the prevailing local labor rates and accessibility challenges.

For instance, an easily accessible blockage in a bustling city might differ in cost from a more remote, suburban area. Depending on the intricacy of the blockage and the distance the plumber must travel to reach the obstruction, the average costs for sewer line cleaning can vary, typically between $100 and $800.

Type of Cleaning Needed 

The type of cleaning required can also significantly influence costs. Options like hydrojetting are designed for intense cleaning and are suitable for severe blockages, while traditional methods like using a drain snake might be preferable for minor clogs.

Furthermore, the age and the structural integrity of the pipes can dictate the best cleaning approach. Older, more fragile pipes might demand gentler methods than newer installations.

Additional Costs 

While the foundational costs of sewer line cleaning are essential, it's crucial not to overlook potential additional costs. These can span a range of considerations, from trip fees to emergency service charges. Sometimes, complications can arise during the cleaning process, necessitating additional work or equipment and adding costs.

Trip Fees 

Companies like Roto-Rooter may incorporate trip fees into their pricing structures. These charges can be influenced by various factors, including the total distance the technician needs to travel to provide the service or specific service requests made by the homeowner. Always ensure you're clear on these potential fees when receiving a quote.

Emergency Services

Roto-Rooter offers emergency services to help homeowners in crisis. Whether you are dealing with basement flooding or mold growth, Roto-Rooter's water damage experts are available 24/7, 365 days a year, to remove any harmful mold growth you may have in your home or business. If your basement floods, call a professional such as Roto-Rooter to provide equipment and services for proper water removal, deodorizing, and drying.

Average Cost of a Sewer Line Cleaning Job by Roto-Rooter

To aid homeowners in budgeting, here's a brief overview of costs associated with common services:

  • Drain Snake Cleaning Service Cost Estimates: Using a drain snake, costs might vary based on factors like accessibility and the severity of the clog. Whether using a handheld tool or renting a more powerful machine auger, costs can differ significantly.

  • Video Camera Inspection Cost Estimates: A thorough video camera inspection can range between $250 to $1,300, with an average cost hovering around $700. It's a separate expense from the actual cleaning, providing a clear view of the obstruction and the state of the pipes.

  • Chemical Cleaners for Stubborn Clogs: Minor blockages might benefit from chemical cleaners. These are strong solutions designed to break down obstructions. Always ensure you follow safety instructions when using such products.

Several plumbing professionals offer convenient and reliable emergency services for water damage cleanup and mold remediation. The cost of services such as drain snake cleaning, video camera inspection, and chemical cleaners can vary depending on factors such as accessibility and severity of the clog. Homeowners can use these cost estimates to budget for common services.


1. How much does Roto-Rooter charge to unclog a drain or sewer line?

The cost of unclogging a drain or sewer line by Roto-Rooter can vary based on the complexity of the job and the method employed. For instance, unclogging a smaller line, like a drain to a toilet, tub, or shower, may range from $100 to $275, while unclogging a branch line within the home may range from $350 to $500. Roto-Rooter's stock-in-trade, unclogging or augering a sewer line, costs $450 to $575. Sewer main line unclog service prices in 2023 may range from $450 to $575. To unclog a sewer main line, Roto-Rooter will range from $350 to $450.

2. Is DIY sewer line unclogging advisable?

While minor clogs might be manageable, it's always safer and more efficient to hire professionals for complex issues. Attempting to unclog a sewer line without the proper equipment and expertise can lead to further damage and costly repairs. Plumbers have the necessary equipment to detect and solve underground pipe problems, and their camera inspection can locate missing clean-outs and measure the distance between them.

3. Why is there a sewer smell during rain?

A sewer smell during rains could be due to backups, clogged vents, or other underlying issues. Sewer gas contains methane, a distinct odor that smells like rotten eggs. If you smell sewer gas in your home, it's important to identify the source of the problem and address it immediately to prevent health hazards.

4. What is Roto-Rooter's average hourly rate?

Roto-Rooter's average hourly rate typically ranges between $45 to $200, but promotions and special offers can provide discounts. Many Roto-Rooter locations charge a flat rate for their services, meaning you'll pay the price quoted upfront, whether it takes them 30 minutes or 8 hours to complete the job. However, the cost of doing business varies by location, which must be figured into the cost of the services provided in a particular city and state.

5. How often should sewer lines be cleaned for optimal performance?

Regular maintenance is key to a well-functioning plumbing system. For most households, a thorough sewer line cleaning every 18-22 months is advisable. However, homes with more frequent clogs or older piping might require more regular inspections and cleanings.  


When dealing with plumbing concerns, especially something as essential as sewer lines, choosing a reputable company like Roto-Rooter ensures peace of mind. Remember, it's always beneficial to read reviews and obtain quotes from local companies to make an informed choice.

If you're interested in how long it takes a water heater to heat up, read more about it from our blogs at Plumbing Emergency.

With an entrepreneurial spirit and a profound understanding of the plumbing sector, Donald embarked on a mission to establish a company that would cater to the urgent needs of customers facing plumbing emergencies.
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