How to Start a Drain-Cleaning Business

by Shanika Chapman - Updated September 26, 2017
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Drain-cleaning companies service residential, commercial or industrial clients by cleaning toilets, laundry drains, sewer lines, kitchen sinks, bath sinks, dishwasher drains, catch basins, roof drains, pool drains and floor drains. Work that is beyond their scope is contracted out to qualified plumbers. If you don’t mind getting your hands dirty and there is a demand in your local area for draining services, you could do well to start your own drain-cleaning business.

Starting the Business

Contact your state licensing department to learn what, if any, licenses you will need and what services you are qualified to provide. You may be required to hold a contractor’s license, sewage contractor’s license or a plumbing license. Then purchase bonding coverage and liability insurance for your sewer-cleaning business. For help on securing a bond, refer to your state’s employment department. Your insurance company may be able to connect you with a liability provider.

Gain experience by working under a licensed master plumber or sewer and drain cleaner.

Procure drain-cleaning equipment, if necessary, such as a camera system, rubber gloves and boots, high velocity jet, augers, cables and a drain cleaning machine. Popular machines include the Ridgid K-50, K-60 and K-75.

Be honest about the work you can do. Refer your clients to qualified plumbers if the job is beyond your scope. Not only will clients recognize your lack of skill, but you could face severe fines from your state for conducting work that you are not licensed to do.

Subcontract for plumbers as a way to get more work and build a name for yourself. Submit your business to the Better Business Bureau and directories such as Angie's List and the Yellow Pages to further market your business.


  • Prioritize the work based on the necessity. Toilet issues are always a much higher priority than a backed sink.

    Be prepared to work odd hours. If possible, offer emergency services.

    Don’t undercharge to compete with other drain-cleaning companies. Not only will this cut into your profits, but it will give clients the impression that you may not be providing the same quality of work as your competitors. Compete by offering faster or friendlier service.

    Wear booties when indoors to help keep client's floors clean. They will notice the effort you make to keep their kitchen or bathroom in order.

About the Author

Shanika Chapman has been writing business-related articles since 2009. She holds a Bachelor of Science in social science from the University of Maryland University College. Chapman also served for four years in the Air Force and has run a successful business since 2008.

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