Cost of unblocking a drain

Looking for a cost estimation for fixing your blocked drain? Learn more about the hourly rates, fees and typical costs associated with hiring a professional plumber to fix your blocked drain in South Africa

National Average rate
High-End Rate
Low-End Rate

*The rates above are estimates based on national averages.  Rates and prices can vary greatly based on specific circumstances, location, severity of your problem, etc.

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Comprehensive cost guide on fixing a blocked drain

In South Africa, a blocked drain is a common household issue that can cause inconvenience and even lead to more significant problems if not addressed promptly. Factors like the accumulation of debris, hair, grease, and the improper disposal of sanitary products can contribute to blocked drains. With a range of urban and rural landscapes, from the bustling streets of Johannesburg to the serene outlying areas of the Western Cape, each region may encounter unique challenges that affect the drainage system. Thus, understanding the costs and processes involved in fixing a blocked drain is essential for South African homeowners.

Average Repair Costs of Unblocking A Drain

The national average repair costs for unblocking a drain in South Africa can vary significantly depending on the severity of the blockage and the location of the property. Homeowners might expect to pay anywhere from R500 to R1500 for standard drain cleaning services. However, if there is a need for extensive repairs or replacements of pipes, the costs can escalate to several thousand Rands, especially in metropolitan areas like Cape Town or Durban where service rates are typically higher.

Estimated Costs Associated with Unblocking A Drain

Materials to unblock a drain:

  • Drain cleaner chemical: R100 - R300 per bottle
  • Drain snake or auger (if purchased): R200 - R800
  • Replacement piping (PVC): R50 - R200 per meter
  • Seals and other fittings: R20 - R100 each

Labour to unblock a drain:

  • Standard drain unblocking service: R400 - R1200
  • Extensive repair work (including pipe replacement): R1000 - R4000+
  • After-hours or emergency call-out fee: R300 - R1000 additional

Additional Fees for unblocking a drain:

  • CCTV drain inspection: R750 - R2000
  • Transportation fee (if applicable): R100 - R400
  • Disposal fee for waste material: R50 - R250

How is blocked drain typically fixed?

  • Assessment of the Problem: The technician will first assess the extent and location of the blockage.
  • Drain Cleaning: Utilization of a plunger or a chemical cleaner to attempt to dislodge the blockage.
  • Mechanical Removal: If the blockage persists, a drain snake or auger is inserted into the pipe to break up the obstruction.
  • High-Pressure Water Jetting: For stubborn blockages, high-pressure water jetting may be employed to clear out the drain.
  • CCTV Inspection: In cases of recurring or complex blockages, a CCTV inspection might be necessary to identify underlying issues.
  • Pipe Repair or Replacement: If the blockage has caused damage to the piping, repair or replacement of the affected sections will be undertaken.
  • Final Testing: The drain is then tested to ensure that water flows freely and the issue has been resolved.

How Long Does It Typically Take To Unblock A Drain?

The time it takes to unblock a drain can vary greatly depending on the severity and cause of the blockage. Here's a rough estimate based on the method used:

  • Plunger: If the blockage is minor and near the drain opening, using a plunger might clear it within 5 to 10 minutes.
  • Chemical Cleaner: Pouring a chemical cleaner into the drain can take anywhere from 15 minutes to overnight to work, depending on the severity of the clog and the effectiveness of the chemical.
  • Drain Snake or Auger: Manually snaking a drain could take between 15 minutes to an hour, assuming the blockage is not too far into the pipes.
  • Professional Service: If you need to call a professional, the process could take anywhere from 30 minutes to several hours, depending on the complexity of the job and the need to access internal plumbing.

In conclusion, a simple blockage might be cleared in as little as 5 minutes, while more complex situations could take several hours, especially if professional assistance is required.

DIY - How to Fix A Blocked Drain

For a minor blockage, you can attempt to clear it yourself by using a plunger or a drain cleaning chemical available at local hardware stores. Using a drain snake or homemade wire hook to pull out debris can also be effective. Always wear protective gloves and eyewear when dealing with chemicals or manual removal of waste.

When Should You Get Professional Help?

Professional help should be sought if the DIY methods fail, if the problem recurs frequently, or if there are multiple blockages affecting various drains in your home. Also, if you notice water damage or signs that the blockage may have caused pipe damage, it's crucial to call in the experts to prevent more extensive issues.

How to Save Money When Getting My Drain Unblocked?

To save money on drain unblocking services in South Africa:

  • Try DIY methods first for minor blockages.
  • Schedule regular maintenance checks to prevent severe blockages.
  • Compare quotes from different service providers in your area.
  • Avoid after-hours or emergency call-out fees by addressing issues during regular hours.
  • Clear visible debris regularly from drain covers to prevent blockages.


Dealing with a blocked drain can be frustrating, but it doesn't have to be with Home+. Home+ is the simplest solution for South African homeowners to resolve such issues. By booking a job directly online or downloading our app, you can have peace of mind and ensure that your blocked drains are addressed by vetted, skilled, and affordable tradespeople without the hassle of a lengthy search.

Frequently Asked Questions About Unblocking A Drain

Q: How often should I get my drains cleaned to prevent blockages?

A: It's recommended to have your drains professionally cleaned at least once a year to prevent build-up that can lead to blockages.

Q: What are the signs that indicate I might have a blocked drain?

A: Warning signs include slow draining water, unpleasant odors, gurgling sounds from drains, and water backing up out of drains.

Q: Can a blocked drain fix itself over time?

A: It is unlikely that a blocked drain will clear up on its own; intervention is typically necessary to remove a blockage.

Q: Is it safe to use chemical drain cleaners for blocked drains?

A: While chemical drain cleaners can be effective, they should be used cautiously as they can be harsh on your pipes and the environment. Always follow the manufacturer's instructions.

Q: How do I prevent my drains from getting blocked?

A: Prevent drains from blocking by avoiding disposing of oils, grease, and food scraps down the sink, not flushing sanitary products or wet wipes down the toilet, and installing drain strainers to catch hair and other debris.


The information provided in this Plumbing Cost Guide is intended for general informational purposes only. While we strive to keep the information up-to-date and accurate, we make no representations or warranties of any kind, express or implied, about the completeness, accuracy, reliability, suitability, or availability with respect to the guide or the information, products, services, or related graphics contained in the guide for any purpose.

The costs and estimates mentioned in this guide are based on averages and typical scenarios in South Africa and should not be taken as exact figures or quotations. Prices and rates can vary significantly based on specific circumstances, locations, and changes in market conditions.

This guide is not intended to substitute for professional advice. Always seek the expertise of a qualified and licensed plumber for any plumbing needs. The user's reliance on any information in this guide is strictly at their own risk. Click here to get a free and accurate quote on your plumbing related needs today.

In no event will we be liable for any loss or damage including without limitation, indirect or consequential loss or damage, or any loss or damage whatsoever arising from loss of data or profits arising out of, or in connection with, the use of this plumbing cost guide.

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