Guide to Mastering Underground Drain Snaking

How Much Does Underground Drain Snaking Cost? 

While it’s easy to ignore what you can’t see, your underground drainage system performs several important functions that keep your home stable and your family safe. After all, clogged drains can cause flooding, water damage, and structural damage. Yikes!

If you begin to notice overflowing gutters and downspouts, standing water, and/or signs of water damage around the base of your home, you might want to snake your underground drains to eliminate long-term problems and costly home repairs. 

However, you’re perhaps wondering just how much a service like this would cost—and which strategies can be used to clear a clog? 

While service pricing depends on a number of different factors, the average cost of underground drain snaking is $231. If you have an especially stubborn blockage, you could spend up to $350 or more. Moreover, if you let a clog go unattended for too long, you could potentially rack up replacement part and repair costs as well.

Now for some good news. You can take a few easy steps to prevent your drain from becoming clogged in the first place. Keep reading to learn more about drain snaking costs and how you can save time and money in the long run. 

How Will I Know if My Underground Drain System is Clogged?

Since the drain system is completely underground, you might wonder how (and if) it’s possible to know a clog exists in the first place. The most obvious signs include:

  • Water Pooling or Overflowing from a Downspout Connection
    • The underground drain is connected to gutter downspouts via an adapter. If you begin to notice water gushing back into your downspouts or gutters rather than down the drain pipe, this can potentially indicate a clogged underground drain. Check to make sure your adapter is fully connected, as this issue can indicate a clog when one in fact doesn’t exist. Plus, any water seen pooling around downspouts can indicate the drain system is clogged somewhere underground. 
  • Overflowing Gutters
    • Just like with your downspouts, your gutters should not overflow from the top. That is, of course, if your gutters are properly cleaned first. Clogged gutters will overflow or contain standing water, so this doesn’t always necessarily mean you have an underground clog. However, if your gutters are properly cleaned and maintained and you still notice water overflowing from or sitting inside your gutters, you’ll want to investigate further as this can indicate a much bigger problem somewhere underground. 
  • Water Damage
    • Water spots around the base of your home are not normal. If you notice any signs of water damage, mold, mildew, and/or a cracked foundation, know these issues can result from a clogged drainage system. Be sure to seek out a prompt resolution, as structural decay is a costly home repair bill you won’t want to lay eyes on!
  • Clogged Exit Points
    • If you can see your drain system’s exit point (meaning it is above ground), you should also be able to see water draining freely. If the water moves slowly or you don’t see any water at all, this is a surefire way to know your drain system is clogged somewhere underground.

Ultimately, underground drain systems should allow for free-flowing water, from the top of the pipe all the way through the exit point. If a lack of proper function abounds, this is more than likely due to a clog somewhere underground. 

What is Snaking?

Snaking—also known as cable rodding, rootering, or augering—is the most common way to break up clogs in an underground drainage system. This method uses a metal cable to break up the blockage and allow water to pass through the pipes freely again. Specifically, this heavy-duty cable is pushed through the pipe system to poke out any dirt or debris that are creating a blockage inside the pipes. 

Other methods include using a blow bag, hydro jetting, or employing a Picote milling machine. A blow bag uses water pressure instead of a metal cable to break up tough blocks. Hydro jetting also uses pressurized water, but in this case, a hose is connected directly to one end of the drain pipe. Finally, a Picote system—similar to snaking or cable rodding—uses force to clear blockages but via a cable with special heads at the end. This is most effective when dealing with tree roots and other solid blocks. 

Which Factors Determine the Final Service Costs?

As with any other services, final costs depend on a wide range of factors including labor, clog severity/location, number of clogs, blockage cause(s), and clearing method(s). 

Most companies charge by the hour, with the average rate falling between $45 and $200 per hour. In the event of an emergency, expect to pay a slightly higher hourly rate due to these last-minute, rushed services. And of course, where you live will dramatically impact hourly rates. If you reside in an area with a higher cost of living, expect to pay more for services than if you lived elsewhere. 

Furthermore, the severity, location, and number of clogs can greatly impact the final bill. Clogs located farther away from the access point will of course take longer to clear. Likewise, several severe clogs will dictate significantly higher costs than just one simple clog. Similarly, clogs caused by foliage, dirt, and other debris are much more forgiving than those caused by tree roots or other solid matter. Tougher clogs will require a more substantial and time-consuming clearing method, such as hydro jetting. 

How Can I Prevent My Underground Drains from Becoming Clogged?

Rather than waiting for problems to arise, you can take a few simple steps to prevent clogs from happening in the first place. This will require a little more time and effort up front, but your home and wallet will thank you later!

First, know there is no substitute for regular gutter cleaning and proper maintenance. Gutter systems perform an incredibly important task, helping direct water away from the base of your home. Clogged gutters can result in standing water around the base of your home, which can lead to a cracked foundation, structural decay, mold, mildew, water damage, and more. Plus, by ensuring your gutter systems are cleaned at least two times per year, you can lower the amount of foliage and debris that travels into your underground drain systems. The more dirt that collects in your gutter, the more dirt will eventually make it underground: increasing the likelihood of stubborn, severe clogs or blockages. You can clean your gutters yourself or hire a professional to come out and take care of this for you. 

Once you’ve fully committed to keeping your gutter systems cleared, you can then look into other preventative measures such as downspout strainers and filters or gutter covers and leaf guards. A downspout strainer sits at the top of the downspout to prevent foliage from entering, while a filter box performs the same function along the pipe of your downspout. Both methods require routine cleanings to prevent overflowing gutters and standing water. On the other hand, gutters covers and leaf guards keep foliage out of the gutter itself, thereby reducing the amount of debris that enters downspouts and—eventually—underground drain systems. Again, gutter covers require regular cleanings. 

As you can see, clogged underground drainage systems are no joke! Since these pipes are located underground, it is often more difficult to spot a clog and eliminate any blockages. However, free-flowing water is essential to ensure your gutters and downspouts function properly and direct water away from the base of your home— as water that begins to pool here can lead to numerous problems including water damage, mold, mildew, unwanted pests, and even structural decay or a cracked foundation. It’s much cheaper to prevent a clog than it is to fix one (or pay the consequences of not fixing it), making corresponding efforts that much more important.