The Cost of Drain Unblocking and Jetting

All you need to know about unblocking drains and jetting including materials, labour and time frames.

Drain Unblocking

What the job entails

Blocked drains are usually noticed when the toilet will no longer flush or the drain covers are overflowing. Another sign of blocked drains is often the awful smell that the emits from them. Basic drain clearing involves an initial inspection to determine who is responsible for the blockage, then rodding and/or jetting with water to remove the blockage, followed by a good water flush through.

Drains and sewers can become blocked for a number of reasons. So if you notice that the water is not draining away properly or you smell something nasty when the sink or washing machine is draining, it is imperative that you take action as soon as possible as the worse the blockage gets, the more difficult and perhaps expensive it will be to clear it! Once the drain gets badly blocked, in most cases this will need to be physically cleared using drain rods, though chemical cleaners can be used for less serious blockages which is much cheaper and can be done without contacting a professional drain cleaning company. There are many reasons for a drain blockage, but typically they are caused by a build-up of fats, oils, grease or soaps. But dirt, silt, leaves and other foreign objects can also block drains.

In addition, drains can become blocked by structural defects and tree roots or subsidence can partially collapse the pipework. Whatever the cause, the consequences of blocked drains can be serious - a nuisance bad smell can eventually become an overflowing toilet if nothing is done about it!

Of course the best way to deal with clogged drains, is to prevent them becoming blocked in the first place. The best prevention for drains is to be very careful about what you put down them! Things like cooking grease, hair and soap are some of the biggest culprits for drain blockages so avoid putting any of these into a drain whenever possible. Grease is probably the number one drain blocker, so save cooking grease in an old can or container then dispose of it in the bin, plus use a screen or grate to cover the opening and minimize the ingression of hair and soap scum. Regular cleaning is also useful for keeping drains running freely, so try running hot water through the sink after every use, plus every now and again throw a handful of baking soda into the drain before flushing it with hot water. Some swear by pouring a cup of vinegar down the drain and letting it sit for 30 minutes before again flushing it down with very hot water.

Be wary of the hard sell as some companies will try to sell additional services that are just not needed. It's hard to know exactly what is blocking your pipes, without actually seeing inside the pipe how could you know? This is why many companies now offer remote CCTV inspections. However, paying extra for CCTV is not normally necessary and many reputable drain cleaning companies offer free CCTV included with their drain cleaning service. Digging up the drains is very rarely necessary except in the rare cases where the drain has completely collapsed. Think twice about a contractor who tells you this is required and ask for evidence like CCTV before paying huge sums of money. Instead of digging up drains, some pipes can actually be relined by inserting a special "sock" through the drain which is then inflated to create a pipe within the original pipe. Again it’s best to view CCTV footage of your damaged drain before paying for this type of work.

The most common thing to go wrong with cleaning drains is for the drain rods to become detached and get stuck! If a contractor does this it will be up to them to rectify, however if you are cleaning the drains yourself and you make this mistake further blocking the drain with cleaning rods, then you have big and expensive problems! The main cause of rods becoming detached during the unblocking process is that they simply unthread themselves, the drain rods purchased at the large DIY stores screw together and all that thrashing about in the drain trying to unblock them can cause the rods to spin and undo. So now you have a blocked drain with draining rods stuck in it too! There are several ways of removing drain rods without the need for excavation works, but they are best left to the professionals as most are pretty tricky and involve specialised equipment.

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The Cost of Drain Unblocking and Jetting

The average cost of unblocking a drain using rods and jetting is around £150-£200, assuming no major blockage. If no major blockage you can expect the job to take roughly 1-2 hours. The average price varies depending on location of service and the severity of the blockage.

Before hiring a contractor you might want to check your home insurance as many policies cover drain unblocking and they may be able to contact a drain cleaning company for you. Most drainage specialists charge around £250-£300 per day and usually will be able to fix any blockage within a day. There is often a £100 minimum call out charge.

Cost Breakdown

Individual costs for jetting a blocked drain - Total Cost: £200






Waste Removal


The average cost for a basic rodding/jetting is around £175, this covers around 1-2 hours on site so assumes no major problems. But before hiring a contractor check your home insurance as many polices cover drain unblocking and they may be able to contact a drain cleaning company for you. Another option is to purchase emergency cover from companies like Homeserve or British Gas. You simply pay a small monthly fee and are covered for a wide range of emergencies which includes drain cover but also usually plumbing/heating and electrical emergencies too.
Finding out your responsibilities as a homeowner or occupier for blocked drains can be difficult. But essentially with drains homeowners and occupiers are responsible for their property's drains right up to the property boundary. Public and private sewers are the responsibility of waste and sewerage companies so you should contact your water company if you encounter a problem. If a neighbour's drain is overflowing and the water is causing you problems, you can contact the local council who'll advise you on the action required.
A drain is a single pipe which transports sewerage from your property. A sewer is a pipe that takes sewage and waste water from the drains of 2 or more properties. A lateral drain is a drain that lies outside of your property boundary and connects to a sewer.