Methods Used By Plumbers for the Diagnosis and Rodding of a Sewer Line

The rodding of a sewer line may appear to be an easy task, but it requires a huge amount of time to undertake the diagnosis, than simply pushing in a rod and running it for a while to clear the blockage.

This is a step-by-step guide to what is required of a plumber to clear a sewer line blockage.

The first step is quite obvious and it will not be included as an official step. This is that the fixture, floor drain or cleanout that has been affected should be located.

Rodding Out Your Sewer

Sewer drain

If it is a fixture that is blocked, other plumbing fixtures within the room should also be checked for blockages. This can be achieved by running water into all the fixtures. If there are no other blockages, it is safe to assume that it is a localized blockage to one fixture or to the drain line attached to that fixture. If other fixtures are blocked as well, you will know that the drainage pipe serving that particular room is where the problem lies.

Thereafter, you should move to the closest floor drain or fixtures to see if they drain properly. If these are fine, you know that you have isolated the blocked area. If these fixtures or floor drains to not drain, the blockage may be further into the sewer line and there may be a clog in the houses main sewer line.

A QUICK TIMESAVING TIP: In the event that there is a blockage in a second floor laundry room or bathroom and everything else in the house is working, you can safely eliminate a main sewer problem.

If you have determined that it is a local blockage, you have to determine the point from which you will rod. In cases where the blockage has occurred on the second floor, you may not have a cleanout, which means you may have to rod from the toilet, the shower or the toilet drain. Although it does not often happen, there are instances when a line is unable to be opened by using the fixture drain. When this happens, it may be necessary to open up a wall and install a cleanout to ensure that the drain is cleaned properly.

If it has been determined that the problem is in the main sewer line, the cleanouts running along the main sewer line will have to be located, particularly if the sewer line is an overhead one. In cases where the sewer runs underneath the first floor slab or basement, there may only be a single cleanout in the interior of the house. There are many homes, particularly older ones that do not have a cleanout at all. The toilet in the house will have to be pulled and used as a cleanout. This is unfortunate as it then requires that an exterior cleanout be installed to ensure that there is proper cleaning.

The next consideration is safety. It can be extremely dangerous to rod in limited spaces, such as ceilings or crawl spaces. If a blockage has occurred quite a distance from the opening of the sewer, the cable can become quite heavy. This is when an assistant is required to allow for the drain line to be rodded properly.

Once you have finally managed to get through the blockage, you should continue using water to ensure that the debris is flushed away. As you retract the rod, you should take note of the type of debris that is coming out as it will help in determining future repairs and maintenance.

There are different types of equipment for cleaning drains, and it is the technicians job to determine the best type for a particular job. Usually, a small rodder will be suitable for small fixture drains and larger power rods should be used for the house sewer and the main sewer.


This tip is for both the professional and the consumer. We have observed many experienced, skilled plumbers make this mistake. When you are making use of an electric power rod, you should let the rod do all the work. You will not break the blockage down any faster by using force on the rod. The result of forcefully pushing the rod into the line is that it starts to break or kink, and this results in the rod being ruined. As a plumber, you know that rod sections are expensive to replace. The best way to go about doing this is to extend the rod, engage the forward clutch and allow the rod to go into the line. Then you can pull out some more rod; engage the clutch, and so on. Ensure that the rod is worked slowly through that blockage. You may become frustrated with the blockages you cannot break through, but by forcing the rod through, you will not achieve good results.

If you are in the Chicago Area and need a professional plumber. Call 312-967-4701

RELATED: Residential Drain Clearing.

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Cities in Service Area:

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