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It's a Crappy job . . .

Updated on September 11, 2009

So your septic system is plugged up.

First assess the situation...

  • Visible blockage - sink (check all), tub, toilet.
  • Sounds - a clean septic system will sound as though the water is rushing through it.   Blockage will make very little sound, maybe some gurgling from sink or tub drains.
  • Look for 'cleanouts'  these are usually an opening near the soil pipe (pipe from toilet) usually found under the house or basement.  Some houses may have a cleanout just outside the house where the soil pipe leaves the house to the city sewer in the middle of the road.  Older homes may have a cleanout closer to the road.

Once you have determined roughly where you can apply a sewer snake or eel, you will need to rent one.

NOTICE:  if you are not a handy person... I suggest that you contact a professional. 

If you believe that your clog is in the sink drains then you could either purchase a smaller hand held unit, or rent one for about $10.00 per day.

You will need to empty your traps by placing a small bucket under the trap and opening the trap drain out.  If you have a cleanout for the area you are going to snake out, you will not need to clean out your traps. 

Using the snake or eel

Do not use soft knit gloves.. Tougher, work gloves would be better.  NOTICE any item like an electric eel that spins around is a potential danger... Spinning items can catch loose clothing and catch your gloves and cause injury.

Feed the snake down the open cleanout by hand.  It should go in by just pushing for until it gets to a corner.  You may need to turn/spin the snake to go around the corner.  Continue to feed the snake down the drain until you have either found that it catches something or you reach the distance you need to go.  If you run into a clog, you will find the the snake binds up a bit.  Pull it back and feed again.  You may need to do this quite a bit to get the clog to release.  You may want to pull the snake out (without) spinning if you can to remove whatever is hooked on the end.  Again, this may take a few tries. 

To go down the tub, simply remove the overflow drain cover and feed from there.

Usually, under a toilet (under the house or in basement) you will find a cleanout.  You can snake out from there if it is under the toilet that you need to snake.  If you do not find a cleanout and need to snake the toilet, you may need to remove the toilet.  (every toilet has a wax seal so if you remove the toilet you will likely need a new seal) 

If the toilet is what you need to snake out, you will need a larger snake, usually called an eel.  They are usually 50 to 100 feet long.  I recently rented one for $50.00 for the day.

If you are unclogging a drain you should use lots of very hot water during the cleaning process.  Once the water begins to run, turn on the hot water tap.  Flushing the toilet to get the water moving after the clog releases is a good idea.  You don't want it to get caught further down.


Soil pipe 4" Cleanout

If you have a clog much further down the line toward the septic system of the city you live in.  You will need a much larger eel.   These are usually attachable sections that are about 8 to 10 feet long.  Make sure you attach them properly, last thing you need is for them to come undone underground.  These are heavy duty and you should have 2 people to operate them.  Take your time and feed the eel down the ouside cleanout in both directions if you can.  Make sure not to go too far toward the house.  Last thing you need is to go right up a drain.  Measure the distance first and estimate yourself how far to feed how many sections of the eel down the hole. 

If you still cannot make the water run, and you have done all of these things.  Call a professional.  Do not waste anymore of your time.  These guys know their clogs. 

It's a Crappy job... but someone has to do it.  The guy I recently hired for help me get a huge clog at a rental unit I own uncloged was not there for more than an hour.  I worked on it for more than 4 hours.  After I did it 2 times, I called in the professionals.  These guys were in and out in just under an hour and guaranteed me it was clean and running fine.


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