How to clear a clogged sewer pipe

Updated April 17, 2017

A clogged sewer pipe is inconvenient and messy. The household task that no one wants to deal with, it can cause all kinds of problems inside and outside your house including undesirable back-flow. Although you might consider calling a plumber to fix a clogged sewer pipe, you can also try fixing the blockage yourself. Not only will this save you money, but you can get it sorted now instead of waiting for service personnel to arrive.

Use a plunger. These are cheap and readily available from your local hardware store. When using a plunger make sure the sink, toilet or bath is filled with water and that the plunger covers the plug hole. Using a repeated downward and upward motion, the plunger works to free the blockage by forcing it through with water pressure.

Utilise a plumber's snake. This is the next action if the plunger fails to remove the obstruction. If you can't purchase a plumber's snake, you can try unbending a wire coat hanger and creating a hook in one end. Lower the wire or snake into the drain and push it back and forth to move the blockage through the pipe or break it down. Although you might have to exert some effort, do not use too much force, especially if you are dealing with flimsy plumbing systems such as plastic under-sink pipes.

Find a closet auger for clogged sewer pipes under toilets. This is a specialist tool that has a hand crank. The auger flexes to fit the shape of the toilet's U-bend and works in the same way as a plumber's snake. You can purchase these from your local hardware store.

Try an electric power auger. This is a specialised piece of equipment you will have to rent from your local hardware store or tool-rental store. Electric power augers are useful for clearing large blockages or those that are a long way down the pipe. The auger comes with an electric motor and is a lot more powerful than a manual auger. You will need a power source nearby to use this tool and it's important to read all operation manuals that come with it before using it.

Use copper sulphate on pipes you think might be blocked by tree roots. You can pour the compound down the drain to kill the roots. However, you will then need to use a snake or an electric power auger to get rid of the debris. Periodic treatments can help keep the line clear, but if you have persistent problems with your pipes becoming blocked by roots consider replacing them with a special type of pipe that is impenetrable.


If you have made several attempts to unblock your clogged sewer pipe without results, call a professional plumber or drain service. Do not use too much force when trying to unblock your clogged sewer pipe as this could damage your plumbing.

Things You'll Need

  • Plunger
  • Plumber's snake
  • Closet auger
  • Copper sulphate
  • Electric power auger
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