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How Much Does it Cost to Clear a Blocked Drain?

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When you have a blocked drain and your plunger can't unblock it, it's time to call the plumber . Knowing what to expect when the plumber arrives will help you understand what's going to happen when they arrive. Knowing how much plumbers charge for clearing blocked drains and how they arrive at their rates will help you get the best service at the right price.

How Does a Plumber Clear a Blocked Drain?

In the past, if there were no visible signs of leakage, locating the blockage in a drain could be a huge and very costly job. Plumbers today have a number of sophisticated devices they use to locate the source of the blocked drain and unblock it. Using cctv cameras (sometimes called sewer drain cameras), they can quickly see what's inside the pipes and pinpoint the location of the blockage.

Plumbers report that in the majority of cases, tree roots are the cause of blocked drains at a distance from the house. Other causes may be:

Solid grease buildup. The grease also traps hair and other material Hygiene products that have been flushed down the toilet Children's toys Toilet paper can block a drain, particularly on sites where sewerage pipes do not have sufficient fall to allow the paper to be expelled

Once the problem has been identified, the plumber can usually quickly unblock the drain using the appropriate tools. One time-tested piece of equipment most plumbers still use for routine jobs is the ""electric eel." Eels are long flexible steel rods with cutters protruding from the ends that are capable of cutting through tree roots.

There are some drawbacks to electric eels. For one thing, they can sometimes damage pipes. For another, they have limited reach. For these reasons, plumbers today often use powerful hydro-jet devices that use water under high pressure to unblock drains. Hydro-jets are even powerful enough to clear tree roots. They are so much safer and more effective than electric eels, many plumbers now use them routinely to remove all kinds of blockages.

How Much Does it Cost to Clear a Blocked Drain?

Every job is different, so it's difficult for plumbers to quote for specific jobs. Because clients want to know in advance what the cost is going to be, some plumbers have a set rate for all blocked drains. The set rate may be as high as $350. While this might be a bargain for one homeowner, it might be more than another homeowner with a minor problem needs to pay. Other plumbers charge their normal hourly rate. Hourly rates start at about $65 per hour, but the plumber may charge a "call-out" rate of $100 or more, even if the blockage can be removed in a short time. They need to do this to compensate for travel and set-up time.

In general, expect to pay between $100 and $350 to clear your blocked drain, but charges of up to $800 have been reported. If you think you know where the blockage is, tell the plumbers when you quotes from plumbers using our Get Quotes service. That way, you won't have to pay the maximum amount for a minor problem and will possibly pay less for a major problem like a tree root. A plumber or plumbing company that has all the latest equipment on hand will probably give you the best price because their modern equipment will enable them to locate the source and remove the blockage more quickly.

Before choosing the lowest quote, check that the plumber you choose holds a current licence and carries insurance. For most blocked drains, a licence is required by law and the plumber's insurance helps protect you in case of an accident or mishap on your property.

Cost and prices in this article are indicative and should only be used as a guide. They also vary locally and are subject to market forces. This article was updated 14 July 2015 to reflect current market pricing.

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