Unclogging a drain is almost a rite of passage for many homeowners. It's usually one of the first things that can happen to a house; fortunately, it's also one of the simplest fixes that you can perform.

That is, until traditional DIY fixes don't work. If that's the case, then you'll need to hire a professional drain cleaning service to help you out. Here's how to know when a clog is something you can handle on your own, and when you'll need to contact a plumber.

If the Clog is Deep

Wire hangers and hot water are great for unclogging a drain that's close to the surface, but if you've got a blockage that is past the p-trap, you'll need someone with advanced knowledge to clean the drain. Plumbers that offer professional drain cleaning services have equipment that can see the clog and scrub the inside of the pipes.

If the Clog Keeps Coming Back

The problem with most household or hardware store cleaners is that they punch a hole through the clog just wide enough for water to slip through, without offering a full drain clean. Because of that, the debris stays glued to the sides of the pipe, ready for a new clog in the future. Hydrostatic drain cleaning, also known as hydro jetting, uses high-pressure water to blast the gunk off the walls, actually cleaning the drain rather than providing a temporary solution.

If Your Pipes are Old

Old pipes are a breeding ground for plumbing problems. If your house pre-dates 1970, chances are your copper pipes are prone to some form of cracking or splitting, which can be made worse if you try to tackle your stubborn clog with just a DIY solution. Hydro jetting even has its limitations, so you'll need a plumber that has extensive experience in drain cleaning solutions to find the right type of approach in your specific situation. 

If You Have Multiple Clogs

An isolated clog in one pipe is indicative of a localized problem and can usually be fixed by a DIY solution. If you have multiple clogging issues, there's most likely a problem with your main water line which should only be handled by a trained technician. Drain cleaning professionals are able to get inside the main lines in and out of your house and clean up the pipes with minimal intrusion into your everyday life. Try as you might, major drain cleaning operations should not be attempted by a homeowner under just about any circumstance.

For more information on drain cleaning, reach out to a local plumber.