Drain blockages can occur in any drain inside your home, and if you're the DIY type, you might be tempted to try to clean them yourself. While you can certainly try to dislodge a clog, success depends on knowing where the clog is located, using the right tools, and performing the right drain cleaning techniques.

Unfortunately, for the untrained person, DIY drain cleaning typically involves plenty of mistakes and, ultimately, an unsatisfactory result. At Drain Blaster Bill's Sewer & Drain Cleaning, we hear about a handful of common drain cleaning mistakes when visiting Twin Cities homes.

Read on to find out what they are so you don't make them, too. 

1. Failing to Call a Professional Drain Cleaning Service

You shouldn't attempt the job yourself if you don't have the right tools to clear a drain. Period. Drain cleaning is best performed after a comprehensive camera drain inspection locates and identifies the clog.

Without that inspection, you won't know where the clog is, how severe it is, or what it comprises. You also won't know whether the interior of the pipe is in questionable condition, and if it is, performing DIY drain cleaning could cause further damage.

Calling a professional to handle drain blockages is the most effective and safest way to ensure your drains are clear, clean, and fully functional. And scheduling routine maintenance drain cleaning services will keep them that way.

2. Improper Plunger Selection

Using a plunger to clear a clogged drain seems painfully straightforward, right? You stick the rubber part over the drain, move the tool up and down, and the clog should dislodge, right? In theory? Yes. In practice? Not always.

Many people make the mistake of using the wrong plunger for the job. Take, for example, a toilet plunger. The tool is designed to dislodge minor toilet clogs, but many people attempt to use it on sinks and shower, floor, and laundry drains. That's a mistake.

There are different types of plungers out there for different types of drains. Toilet plungers might be the most well-known variant of the tool, but they're not effective for every drain.

3. Using Chemical Drain Cleaners to Clear Clogged Drains

Though drain cleaners are widely available, and it can be tempting to turn to these products in a pinch, you really shouldn't use these chemicals on your pipes. Not only do they contain extremely harsh chemicals that can damage your plumbing, but they also rarely live up to their lofty claims.

While the chemicals in these products are designed to break down drain clogs, they don't typically stop there. A corrosive chemical is a corrosive chemical — it doesn't distinguish between a drain blockage and other materials; it reacts with everything it touches.

To prevent pipe damage, it's best to avoid chemical drain cleaning products if at all possible. While a couple of uses won't destine your pipes to an untimely death, repeated use can certainly do a number on your plumbing system, especially if it's old.

4. Using a Standard Water Hose to Flush Slow Outdoor Drains

If you've ever watched a plumber flush a clogged drain with water, it's easy to assume your standard garden hose can accomplish the same job. But it can't.

While water is an excellent tool for drain cleaning, the stream of water that your garden hose produces isn't the same as the stream of water that professional drain cleaning tools emit. A drain cleaning specialist uses a technique called water jetting to clean clogged pipes.

This technique relies on an industrial-grade tool that produces an extremely pressurized jet of water. Depending on the composition of the clog, the water may also contain abrasive substances to break it apart. While the technique is highly effective, the water entering the pipe must be highly pressurized.

Your standard garden hose simply won't cut it.

5. Attempting to Clear Drain Blockages With DIY Tools

If you're dealing with a moderate drain blockage, clearing that blockage isn't always straightforward. For the DIYer, clearing a clogged drain with something like a straightened metal coat hanger (or any other long, flexible DIY tool, for that matter) can certainly seem like a good idea — it's worth a shot and if it doesn't work, no harm done, right?


Though it may seem common sense, drain cleaning involves a degree of precision and specific technique that an untrained person simply won't have. Using DIY tools that aren't specifically fashioned for drain cleaning rarely gets the job done because drain blockages are usually pretty far down the pipe.

Ultimately, poking around inside the drain with household objects can force a clog further down the pipe. Don't try to dislodge the clog yourself when you have a drain blockage that needs attention. Call a drain cleaning specialist who can evaluate the situation thoroughly and formulate an effective plan of attack.

6. Improper Snake Use

Augers and snakes are the typical go-to's for blocked drains, and one of the most common mistakes is not using the correct size. Picking an auger snake that's too large can damage your lines and lead to leaks and breaks in some situations. Using one that's too small can get stuck in the pipe and complicate your clogging issue even more.

Using the proper technique is also critical. As you move through the piping, turn it evenly and slowly. Avoid twisting the cable while still using enough force to move it through the block, then pull it back out once it’s intertwined with the build-up. Repeat as needed until the clog is clear. 

7. Not Cleaning the Stopper

If you're dealing with drainage issues, your first instinct might be to jump right into getting to the clog, and while this is an effective solution, inspecting your drain stopper in the process is imperative. Drain stoppers catch everything from debris to hair, and if you're experiencing slow draining, check this part first because it could be compacted with build-up.

8. Ignoring a Clog

While this may be a more obvious mistake, if you don't recognize the signs of clogging, you can end up with water damage and even health hazards if your septic is involved. If you're hearing gurgling noises or experiencing slow drains or backups, these are all common signs that must be addressed immediately.

To make matters worse, aside from the damage potential, if the water stagnates for too long, it can create bad odors and attract pests giving you a much larger problem than you started with.

Looking for Drain Cleaning Services in the Twin Cities?

If you repeatedly deal with clogged drains throughout your house or suddenly develop a severe drain blockage, don't wait to call our team at Drain Blaster Bill's Sewer & Drain Cleaning. We specialize in comprehensive drain cleaning services for households throughout the Twin Cities and offer same-day service and affordable rates.

To learn more or get started, call our Stillwater, MN office today at 763-913-8719. You can also request a free estimate here or contact us online for more information.