Ron the Sewer Rat

Drain, Sewer and Plumbing FAQs

Drain Cleaning

Drains back up for a variety of reasons including:

(1) Roots. Any line with improper or worn seals will allow roots to grow through the seams.

(2) Improper installation of the drain line.

(3) Objects that should not be flushed, including wet wipes, paper towels, feminine products and grease.

Unfortunately, if the line is backed up the camera will not have the ability to see through dirty water, so it would be a futile effort and a waste of your money.
We can clean the floor drain to the point where it connects to your mainline because floor drain lines are only 2” or less in diameter. But the mainline is 4”-6” and requires a larger blade which does not fit through the floor drain. If the mainline pipe to the street needs to be cleaned, we have to enter the pipe from another point.
Some lines have years of build-up and need the power and torque of a professional drain cleaner to get through them. In addition, since Ron the Sewer Rat has years of experience, we know various “tricks of the trade” – such as getting around turns in the pipe – to successfully clear the drain.
A blade or cutter is the attachment added to the end of the cable that cleans the pipe as it rotates, cutting away any obstruction. We use a dozen different blades to clean lines. Various sizes are required because sewers all have different size clean outs and pipe diameter. For example, most lines are under 3”-4” under the foundation, converting to 6” outside the house.


It’s a good idea to have your main line cleaned every one to five years depending on your location (i.e. age of sewer, length, trees and shrubs in area, etc..) Even if you don’t have the line cleaned, we recommend at least having a camera inspection. Roots can grow through the seams in the line, and when the lines run parallel with the sewer the roots can grow to 1/2 inch or more, adding hundreds of pounds of pressure and eventually breaking the line. Repairing a broken line can cost $3,000 to $50,000. Preventive maintenance is always cheaper!
Make sure your small drains have the proper cross bars or stops. Add a grate or other type of hair catcher/food catcher. Try to limit the amount of hair that gets washed down your bathroom drains. Don’t put grease down your kitchen sink even with hot or cold water and soap. Collect grease in a container and allow it to cool before disposing.

Technical Questions

Cleaning has the potential of worsening damaged sections or existing breaks in the pipe. However, cleaning will not break or damage a pipe that is in good condition because the blades we use for cleaning are the same size or smaller than the pipe and they flex as they run through the line.
Not necessarily. The pipe might be broken, but oftentimes the pipe is intact and the roots have grown in through the seams of the pipe.

Broken Lines

Unfortunately, the line from the house to the city connection is usually the responsibility of the homeowner, which includes the costs of repairs. However, some cities will take responsibility for curb to city, so we recommend contacting the city directly to inquire about your property.


In some situations, such as when lines have grease, sand/rocks, or flat spots, jetting works better than cabling. However, most of the time cabling works just as well, if not better, and is less expensive than jetting.

Sewer Inspections

The camera inspection will show any major issues with the line, potentially costing you thousands of dollars. Defects can include broken or cracked pipes, shifted pipes, flat spots in the line and tree root growth.

Chemical, smells & Bugs

Over the counter drain cleaners can work in certain situations but are potentially more harmful to your drain line than they are to the clog, not to mention the potential harm to your health and the environment. Most contain sodium hydroxide or sulfuric acid which can burn you and eat through your pipes. If you decide to try an over the counter drain cleaner, be sure to use rubber gloves and safety goggles. And never use a plunger afterward, as this may cause splashing.
There can be multiple reasons for a foul sewer odor – sewer back-ups, leaks from rotted or cracked pipes, a clogged drain or vent, or a wax ring that is not sealed. However, the most common reason is that the p trap is dry.
It’s possible that they are fruit flies, but if you notice them around your drain they’re more likely “drain flies” (also known as sink flies, filter flies, or sewer gnats). They feast on the bacteria growing in the pipe. To get rid of drain flies, you simply need to clean your drain from the crossbars down to the trap (the u piece under the sink). This will eliminate the decomposing, organic matter required for drain flies to survive.