How to Snake a Main Drain Line?

A clogged main drain line can lead to various plumbing issues, including slow drainage and backups. Snaking, or using a plumbing snake, is a practical and effective method for clearing obstructions in the main drain line. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore step-by-step instructions on how to snake a main drain line, providing you with the knowledge to tackle this common plumbing challenge.

Understanding the Main Drain Line

Before attempting to snake the main drain line, it’s essential to understand the basics of the plumbing system.

Main Drain Line Overview

  1. Location of the Main Drain:
    • The main drain line is a large pipe that collects wastewater from all the drains in your house and directs it to the sewer or septic system.
  2. Common Causes of Clogs:
    • Clogs in the main drain line can result from a buildup of grease, soap scum, hair, or foreign objects.
  3. Signs of a Clogged Main Drain:
    • Slow drainage in multiple fixtures, gurgling sounds, or sewage backups are indications of a potential main drain clog.

Identifying Access Points

Locating access points for snaking is crucial for effectively reaching the clog in the main drain line.

Locating Cleanout Ports

  1. Finding Cleanout Ports:
    • Identify cleanout ports, which are usually capped pipes located along the main drain line. Common locations include the basement or crawlspace.
  2. Removing the Cleanout Cap:
    • Use a wrench to carefully remove the cleanout cap, exposing the access point to the main drain.

Selecting the Right Plumbing Snake

Choosing the appropriate plumbing snake is essential for a successful unclogging process.

Types of Plumbing Snakes

  1. Handheld Auger:
    • Ideal for minor clogs and accessible cleanout ports.
  2. Motorized Drain Snake:
    • Suitable for more stubborn clogs and longer drain lines. Often used by professionals.

Snaking the Main Drain Line

Executing the snaking process involves careful steps to break up and clear the clog.

Using a Handheld Auger

  1. Inserting the Auger:
    • Carefully insert the auger into the cleanout port, guiding it into the main drain line.
  2. Rotating the Auger:
    • Rotate the handle clockwise to advance the auger through the pipe, breaking up the clog.
  3. Retracting the Auger:
    • If resistance is felt, retract the auger and rotate counterclockwise to dislodge or grab the clog.
  4. Flushing the Line:
    • After snaking, flush the drain line with water to ensure the complete removal of debris.

Safety Precautions and Tips

Ensuring safety during the snaking process is paramount.

Safety Measures

  1. Protective Gear:
    • Wear gloves and safety goggles to protect against debris and splashes.
  2. Proper Use of Tools:
    • Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for the plumbing snake, ensuring safe and effective operation.
  3. Professional Assistance:
    • If unsure or if the clog persists, consider seeking professional plumbing assistance.


In conclusion, snaking the main drain line is a practical DIY solution for resolving clogs and restoring proper drainage in your plumbing system. By understanding the location of cleanout ports, selecting the right plumbing snake, and following safety precautions, you can confidently tackle main drain line clogs. Regular maintenance and prompt attention to signs of clogs will contribute to a healthy and efficient plumbing system, preventing potential issues in the future.