Start a 24 Hour Drain Cleaning Business

Wednesday, 22 May, 2013

in Real World Jobs

You can start your 24 hour drain cleaning business on a shoestring, with just a pile of drain rods. There is more to it than that, but drain rods will allow you to solve 90% of problems you come across.

On Your Own or Franchise?

Franchises are expensive to buy into and most people will not have the $50K (£40K) that buying into a big name franchise will cost you. You can start on your own but you will need to do some marketing to get your name in front of people; franchisees have the marketing included as part of their package.

As an independent with lower costs and no franchise fees to pay you can do jobs for less than the big franchise drain cleaning companies.

Sewer Drain Clearingblocked drain - you get lots of these with a 24 hour drain cleaning business

This will be the core of your business. It is messy work and smelly, which is why so many householders will pay you to do it for them. Most blockages are caused by toilet paper and sanitary towels; all you need to clear these is a corkscrew-like breakup attachment on your drain rods.

Drain rods are a metre long and have brass fittings at each end so you can screw them together. To tighten them just turn clockwise as you usually would.

When in use always be sure to turn the rods clockwise as you push them into the drain. (if you turn the wrong way your rods could come apart in the drain, which would mean sending a robot down to pull them out  not cheap). You will need a lot of drain rods because some houses have sewer drains that stretch for 50 metres without an inspection cover.

What Do You Need to Start a Drain Cleaning Business?

You will need a bin to carry your drain rods upright. The rods then drain into the bin and you can use a power washer to wash everything off at the end of the day.

Your van will need to be large enough to carry your equipment and to look professional. Small vans look very amateurish and as you acquire more equipment to handle different jobs they will not have the space you need.

A power-washer is another useful tool to have in this business. You need it to clear up any mess and to wash any overflow back into the drain. An electric one means you either need access to your client’s electricity supply or you need to carry a generator in your van; a gas-powered power washer is better and is usually more powerful. Buy extensions that will allow you to jetwash any pipes you work on.

Clean overalls are another part of your professional image. You need at least 10 sets to allow you to change between jobs, necessary to keep your van clean inside as well as to impress your customers.

Anything else you can buy as you learn the job and have a  need for it.


A website is essential, though you can build it yourself easily enough. The first place people look for services is online rather than the phone book, so you have to be online. Make sure to include a landline phone number so that anyone searching with the area code in the search query will be directed to your site. You should also include photographs of yourself doing jobs and testimonials.

If setting up a website is a problem then I can do it for you – No charge; all you need to do is to buy your hosting through my referral link. Find out more about free website setup.

Your van is important but less so than your online presence. Nobody takes the details of services they hope never to need, so your van and business cards are very much secondary marketing.

It is possible to set up as an independent contractor without paying an arm and a leg for a franchise, but your business will grow more slowly and you do need to be on top of your marketing.

Image credit: Lee J Haywood

{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Don Sturgill September 19, 2013 at 17:13

There are so many potentials for business, it’s a shame anyone is out of work. In the USA, we have SBA small business centers where potential entrepreneurs can get free or low-cost help with a start-up. New business (not small business) grows the economy.


2 Phil September 20, 2013 at 06:40

Thanks Don
I think young people should be taught about being entrepreneurs at school. The culture of jobs for life is dead. Even government jobs are no longer as secure as they once were.
I tried to persuade my own daughters to become self-employed writers when they were unemployed in England. They were put off by the complications of the tax system and now are both unhappily employed in glorified call-centres. I think anyone with average intelligence and a bit of help can start their own business. All they have to do is to find a service that people will pay for, like having their drains unblocked.


3 chris October 23, 2015 at 15:57


i am just looking in to the idea of starting my own drain unblocking business i worked for a company in london for 7 years doing this type of work and loved it every senario was different ive moved back up north now and have been driving hgv`s but realy want to work for myself its just hard finding funding for the jetter required and a few other mechanical tools. in this day and age many clients require a cctv survey done after clearing the bloackage to ensure its not going to re occur over night or to asses why it happened in the first place but these systems are not cheap fingers crossed i can work round these problems and soon be up and running.


4 Phil October 23, 2015 at 16:31

Hi Chris
I hope you find a way to working for yourself – I would never go back to a day job. There is a lot of satisfaction in being able to do a job like unblocking drains. It’s an essential service that people need NOW when they need it. Maybe think about selling customers a 12 month maintenance contract when you have cleared their drains… promise of preferential service, etc.


5 Alex Brian Pamplona February 16, 2016 at 05:20

Hi Phil,
I am starting a drain cleaning business and I am really new. I am still studying about the business. You mentioned the maintenance contract, how does it work? What are the scope of the maintenance contract? Thank you.


6 Phil February 16, 2016 at 08:06

A maintenance contract in a drain cleaning business can be anything you choose.
You might bill people every month eg $10 and come out to them without charging when they have a problem.
You might bill $20 a month and include one call per year in that.
You would prioritise any calls from anyone with a regular contract.
Businesses need instant solutions to any problems they have and will be your main clients for contracts. Look for businesses in the country that are not connected to mains sewers because septic tanks need emptying regularly and when they do the drains clog up – which means work for you.


7 Charlie February 27, 2016 at 12:49

Hi I’m thinking of changing jobs I have a small fencing and landscapes company and want to sell up and start a drainage one just looking if any company’s sub contract some work to start off ? How you’d go about finding out ?


8 Phil April 10, 2016 at 17:19

It depends on personal contacts Charlie – Much business is done over a few pints at the local pub. Someone you know almost certainly knows someone in the drainage business, so start there


9 Diego May 19, 2016 at 18:38

Hi Phil, I did this job for 4 years in different country, now I’m back in England and I love that job , I do like to know how can I start this bussines here in England, if I need any license our just buy everything do the marketing and start work …
Please tell me what I need to do …
I work now as a delivery drive , and I want to do what I really like and be my on boss again …


10 Phil May 25, 2016 at 10:16

Hi Diego
As far as I know you do not need a licence, but you would need to check that out with a solicitor.

You will need a website, business cards, a van and the tools of the trade. That’s it.

Do let me know how you get on, please



11 Douglas O'Halloran June 1, 2016 at 14:50

Thanks phil for all your advice thanks Doug


12 Richard Baxter August 19, 2016 at 07:48


I have a plumbing business. I have been looking to extend our business into drainage but I am not sure exactly what I will need. I understand rods and an industrial plunger like the Rothenberger for toilets. Can anyone direct me a bit more – I would be willing to make a Paypal payment to someone with experience for a few hours of their time to make me a shopping list for a useful guide.


13 Allen h January 8, 2017 at 06:03

Well I have been doing drain cleaning for about 10 years and I know pretty much everything you need to know to at lease get started. I am looking to start my own drain cleaning company and so I’m starting to look into everything I will need to be legal and successful. Please email me and maybe we can exchange knowledge. Thanks!


Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: