How Do You Unclog a Deep Clogged Pipe?

A plumber using a drain snake to unclog a deep clogged pipe beneath a sink drain.

Do you have a clogged drain deep in a pipe in your home? That's not a pleasant situation, but it's also not an impossible problem to solve. In some cases, it's possible for the average homeowner to clear a deep clogged pipe; however, that's not always the case. Sometimes, it does take a professional touch to clear a clogged drain deep down your pipe. For these instances, you can call on Mr. Rooter Plumbing of Edmonton!

In general, your ability to unclog a deep clogged pipe on your own will depend on the exact location of the blockage. Deep clogs can be any serious blockage that sits beyond the opening of your drain. In some cases, that "deep" clogged pipe could simply be a blockage that sits just beyond the range of your snake or around the curve of your P-trap. However, in other cases, you could have nasty blockage sitting much deeper in your drainage system—possibly even inside your sewer main.

It's never a bad idea to contact your local plumber if you're struggling with a stubborn, slow drain, or clogged toilet. However, it might be possible to solve that problem yourself too. In either case, the team of plumbing experts at Mr. Rooter Plumbing is here to support you with all the information—and services—that you need to deal with a clogged drain deep in a pipe.

Signs of a Deep-Clogged Pipe

A surface-level clog is certainly unpleasant, but it's also often an easy problem to spot. When excess water starts pooling around your feet in your shower or building up in your kitchen sink, check your drain cover for any nearby debris like hair or food waste. Clearing all that waste away will clear the average surface-level clog. It's when there isn't any hair in your shower drain or food stuck in your sink that you'll have to start worrying about deeper drain blockage.

In general, any stubborn blockage that you're not able to clear on your own with a plunger or drain snake can be considered a deep clog. However, that could also depend on whether you're using the right type of equipment. Trying to clear a toilet clog with a cup plunger might not produce very satisfying results.

Most of the time, you can confirm a deep clogged pipe is affecting you by looking for other symptoms. A deep clogged pipe will often affect multiple fixtures in your home, or cause multiple problems, especially if it's related to a blockage in your sewer main. In addition to tough clogs that can't be cleared, keep an eye out for the following signs:

  • Unpleasant odors
  • Gurgling and other strange sounds
  • Slow-draining and standing water
  • Frequent backups and clogs
  • Backups that appear in showers or other areas when your flush your toilet or turn on appliances that use water
  • Visible sewage backups

If you see any of the signs listed above, you should consider calling a professional plumber for expert drain cleaning services. Not only are those signs of deep clogged pipes but also of serious damage to your waste lines that could require professional repairs from a knowledgeable, licensed plumber.

Common Drain Cleaning Methods

Before you start looking for advanced solutions to clear your deep, clogged pipe, make sure you try all the options available to you. Sometimes, a stubborn clog is difficult to clear. Don't stop at just a few plunges with your plunger or a single dip with your plumbing snake. Clearing a particularly serious surface clog could still take a few attempts with conventional drain cleaning tools.

Using Your Plunger

When using your plunger to clear a clogged drain deep in a pipe, be sure to use repeated, rhythmic motion. It's more important to keep plunging consistently and build up pressure than it is to plunge with rapid, excessively forceful motions. Slow and steady wins the race in this case.

You also want to be sure that you're using the right type of plunger. Cup plungers work best for sinks and other flat drains. For a toilet, you'll need a toilet plunger or accordion plunger to get the job done right. It won't matter where the toilet paper jam is in your pipe if you're not trying to clear it out with the correct tool.

Using Your Plumbing Snake

When a plunger doesn't work, you can try a plumbing snake—if you have one on hand. Simply unwrap the cable and insert the head into the drain opening. Twist gently with the handle as you go down to dislodge any debris stuck to the sides of the pipe wall. Snakes come in a few different sizes, but many of them are long enough to dislodge blockage that is located deeper inside waste lines.

Vinegar and Baking Soda

Sometimes, you don't have the right tools on hand, or your tools don't reach far enough to clear deep, clogged pipes. When that happens, you might be tempted to pour something like drain cleaner into your sink or shower. In general, that's not a solution that will work well for a tough clog, since chemical drain cleaners work better as preventative methods for dealing with gradual grime buildup, rather than a big clog. They also damage pipes and create additional safety hazards, so they're generally not recommended by plumbers. However, some people do have success with vinegar and baking soda.

Pouring a cup of baking soda and then a cup of vinegar into a drain pipe can produce a chemical reaction that is sometimes effective at clearing deeper blockages. Make sure to follow up with hot water to melt away any remaining debris. This method doesn't always work, but it can be a worthwhile temporary solution for some situations.

Disconnecting Your P-Trap

If you're able to see the pipes that are jammed, you can also try to disconnect them and clear them more directly—as long as you have the correct tools for safely disconnecting and cleaning that pipes. Your P-trap is the curved piece of the pipe located under your sink. Sometimes, it will get clogged with debris that makes it seem like there's a clog deeper in your waste lines. If you carefully remove the trap, clean it and reattach it, you may find that your deep clogged pipe begins working properly again.

Advanced Solutions for a Clogged Drain Deep in Your Pipe

If all the solutions above don't work, or if you've seen other symptoms of a deep clogged pipe, then it's likely you'll need a more advanced, effective solution for clearing that clogged drain deep in your pipe. Unless you have the proper training for using this type of equipment, it's better to leave the actual cleaning process to your expert plumbers—otherwise, you might find yourself needing more extensive plumbing repairs as a result of accidental damage. Still, it doesn't hurt to learn about these advanced tools and techniques, so that you know what to expect during an appointment with a plumber.

Plumbing Auger

Plumbing augers are more complicated, more advanced versions of plumbing snakes. They come in a variety of sizes and can be powered or unpowered. The smallest types can be used to clear sink drains or your toilet drain, while the largest types can be used to clear sewer mains.

The manual and powered varieties are sometimes also referred to as manual drain snakes or electric snakes due to their similarity to traditional plumbing snakes. The key difference between an auger and a snake is that they operate with extra power. Even the manual types have a crank that allows you to twist and extend them. The powered versions have a motor that runs the crank instead and helps produce extra force. In either case, an auger will certainly work better than a traditional plumbing snake—or that wire coat hanger you might be thinking about using.

Hydro Jetting

Have you ever seen a pressure washer in action? Hydro jetting is a lot like that, only it's for the inside of your pipes. Hydro jetting equipment looks like a long hose with a specialized nose or "head." The head shoots jets of pressurized water in multiple directions that blast away gunky buildup and organic waste from the inside of waste lines.

Hydro jetting is a convenient, highly effective method for cleaning even the most stubborn clogged drain deep in a pipe. The water jets are even powerful enough to cut away tree roots that have penetrated buried sewer lines. When the process is done, your waste lines will be nearly as clean as they were before they were installed.

When Should You Call a Plumber for a Clogged Drain Deep in a Pipe?

If you're struggling to clear a clogged pipe on your own, or if you've seen any warning signs related to a serious plumbing emergency, you should consider calling a professional plumber. The longer that a plumbing problem goes unresolved, the worse it will get. In the case of a deep clogged pipe, you might find yourself cut off from using essential fixtures if you're not able to get the blockages cleared—and you could be at risk for even more serious damage in the near future. Making an appointment with a knowledgeable plumber will give you greater peace of mind—and ensure that your blockage is cleared safely and effectively.

How Do Plumbers Unclog a Deep-Clogged Pipe?

Professional Inspections and Diagnosis

Sometimes, the cause of blockage-related problems is immediately noticeable, but for a deep clogged pipe, you'll likely need an inspection from an experienced plumber. Using specialized equipment like a sewer inspection camera, your plumbers will perform a deep inspection to find and diagnose the blockage. The techniques and tools they use to deal with your debris will depend on the results of their inspection.

Professional Drain Cleaning Services

Technicians from professional plumbing companies like Mr. Rooter Plumbing always come prepared with a wide range of advanced tools and techniques for clearing blockages. In many cases, professional drain cleaning tools like a toilet auger or hydro jetting equipment will be enough to deal with a deep clogged pipe. However, if there is damage present, you may need additional repairs or pipe replacement services.

What Causes a Deep-Clogged Pipe?

Fats, Oils, and Grease

Animal fats, cooking oil, and grease are all common causes of blockage in waste lines. That's why you should never pour them into your sink. When they're hot, they might flow down easily, but once they cool, they'll solidify and block your waste lines. Nobody wants to deal with a grease clog, so it's best to let those substances cool and then throw them out in a separate container or wipe them up and compost them.

Toilet Paper and Other Paper Products

An excessive amount of toilet paper can cause a backup in some cases, but it's the other paper products that are the more dangerous culprits. Paper towels, wet wipes, napkins, tissues, and most other paper products aren't made to disintegrate like toilet paper, so when they get inside your pipes, they'll create traps that catch other debris and impede the flow of water.

Kitchen Waste

Most food should never enter your waste lines. That includes common kitchen waste like scraps from your plate or cooking waste, but you should also pay special attention to what you do with coffee grounds, eggshells, pasta, and rice. All those substances interact with water and plumbing systems in negative ways. Letting them get in your waste lines will cause inevitable problems.

Tree Roots

Sometimes, it's the things outside your lines and your home that cause deep clogs. Tree roots will spread out in search of any water they can find, and if they happen to find some in your underground pipes, they could wrap around them, punch their way through small cracks or even pierce right through the pipe walls. Once they get inside, they'll spread out and continue growing, creating a net that catches debris and causes clogs.

Do You Need to Unclog a Deep-Clogged Pipe?

You can rely on the team at Mr. Rooter Plumbing to meet all your plumbing needs. Whether you need help with sewer system backups or with clogged drains somewhere else in your home, you can trust our team to provide safe, effective, reliable services that will eliminate your blockage and restore your plumbing system.