How To Unclog A Main Drain Without A Snake? (Explained)

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To unclog main drain, you can use hot water, a chemical cleaner, plunger, or a power washer. The method you use to unclog a main drain depends on the clog. In this article, we would look into how to use each method to unclog a main drain without a snake.

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Will the mainline unclog itself?

Technically, a clogged mainline can clear out itself. But it is not advisable to leave a clogged mainline to unclog itself. In most scenarios, what clogs the mainline are water-soluble.

As such, given enough time for the materials to break down, combined with the pressure of flushes, it should clear out the pipes.

While the idea of how the mainline unclogs itself sounds simple, in reality, it takes time. For this reason, if you can’t wait for a clogged mainline to unclog itself, keep reading.

Below we discussed a few tricks you can use to unclog a clogged mainline without a snake.

How do you unclog a main drain without a snake?

Unclogging the main drain is often done with a snake. But if for one reason or the other you want to unclog a main drain without a snake, it’s also possible.

There are several methods you can use to unclog a main drain without a snake. In this section, we’d be discussing four methods you can use to unclog a main drain without a snake.

Run hot water

One of the first tricks you should try out is using hot water. Now, if you are experiencing a partial blockage, running hot water in the drain can help soften the clog.

Most time, a clogged drain is caused by sanitary products, tissue paper, food particles, or grease buildup. If this is the cause of the blockage, then running hot water in the drain can help fix the problem. Using hot water to unclog a drain is easy, simply follow the steps below.

Step 1: Boil water

The first thing you need to do is to boil water. Add a sufficient amount of water to a pot or kettle and bring to boil. About 5 to 10 liters of water should do the job.

Depending on the amount of heat, the water should only take a few minutes to boil. Ensure you let the water boil properly such that it produces boiling bubbles.

Step 2: Pour the boiling water into the drain

Once the water is boiling, without letting any heat lose, pour it into the drain. When pouring the water, ensure the water goes directly into the drain. Wait for about 15 to 20 minutes then flush.

Unclog with a chemical cleaner

In a case where hot water doesn’t solve the case, another method you can try out is using a chemical cleaner. Now several chemical cleaners in the market can help you achieve your aim.

The type of chemical cleaner you get should depend on the type of blockage. To use a chemical cleaner, follow the steps below:

Step 1: Choose the right chemical cleaner

If you are going to be using a chemical cleaner, the first question you will be faced with is choosing the right chemical cleaner. There are three rules of thumbs you can use to get the right chemical cleaner for the job.

First, for grease buildup clog, get a caustic cleaner. Secondly, to unclog food particles and other clogs get an oxidizing cleaner. Lastly, for tree root clog, get a copper sulfate cleaner.

Step 2: Wear protective gloves

Always wear protective gear when using a chemical cleaner. Chemical cleaners are powerful agents that can degrade the skin.

As such, when handling harsh chemicals, it is advisable to use a PPE. Also, for no reason should you mix chemical cleaners hoping it will be more effective, rather it could cause a reaction.

Step 4: Pour the chemical cleaner into the drain

After following the direction on the chemical cleaner bottle, pour the cleaner into the drain. Wait for about 15 to 20 minutes then flush.

Use a plunger

A common house tool you can use to unclog a drain is a plunger. Note, plunging can get messy, so expect to scoop out lots of water. Having a bucket nearby will also help to minimize the mess. Follow the steps below to use a plunger properly.

Step 1: Get a plunger

The first thing you need to know about plungers is that there are different types of plungers depending on what you are trying to unclog.

The basic type of plungers you can find in stores are sink or standard plunger, accordion plunger, toilet plunger, and taze plunger.

Step 2: Cover the over-drain

Before you start plunging, it helps to cover any over-drain to prevent air from escaping which can decrease the suction power. Also, seal off any nearby drain for better results.

Step 3: Line the rim of the plunger with petroleum jelly

To also improve suction power with the suction, it helps to line the rim of the plunger with petroleum jelly. The petroleum jelly will prevent the air from escaping while using the plunger.

Step 4: Secure the plunger over the sink

Gently place the rubber belly of the plunger securely over the drain, completely submerging the bell in the standing water.

Step 5: Push on the handle

Push on the handle forcing the air out. This creates a suction power which helps to unclog the drain. Plunge quickly, directing the pressure down the drain without lifting the plunger to break the seal. Repeat this action for about a minute, and the clog should clear out.

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Use a power washer

If you own a pressure washer or simple spray gun, you can use it to unclog a drain.

However, you will need to attach a sewer jetter to the trigger gun of the power washer for it to work. Follow the steps below to use a power washer to unclog the mainline:

Step 1: Attach a sewer jetter

First, you need to attach a sewer jetter to the power washer trigger gun. It looks like a long hose with a nozzle at the other end. You can rent a sewer jetter from most hardware stores or you can simply buy your own.

Step 2: Lower the nozzle about a foot down the drain

Before you power on the power washer, lower the sewer jetter into the drain. Lower the jetter as far down the drain so the water wouldn’t splash on you. Note the farther down you can lower it, the better the result.

Step 3: Spray the water in the drain

Turn on the power washer and pull the trigger to spray the water in the drain. As you spray, lower more of the jetter so it clears out the ensure sewer line.

Step 4: Listen to the sound of the clog

Importantly, listen to the sound you hear as you clear the clog. When you hear a sound like a rush of water running through pipes, then the clog has successfully unclogged.

How much does it cost to unclog a main sewer line?

If after you must have tried all the above tricks and still can’t unclog it yourself, then we recommend calling a professional.

Generally, the average cost to unclog a main sewer line ranges from $350 to $650. But if there is a need to replace any portion of the sewer line, the cost can go as high as $1000 to $3000. And to replace the entire drainage system can cost as much as $5000 to $20000.


In conclusion, with the right know-how, you can unclog a drain yourself. You don’t always have to use a snake to unclog a main drain.

You can try out any of the methods we discussed in this article to unclog a main drain. If none of the methods works, you may need the help of a specialist.