How to Start a Drain Cleaning Business in 14 Days (In-Depth Guide)

Updated: March 26, 2024 is reader-supported. When you buy through links on my site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more

Starting a drain-cleaning business might be the perfect solution for you! The residential cleaning services market reached a whopping $943 million in 2022, showcasing the immense potential for growth and profitability in this sector.


Imagine being your boss, setting your schedule, and providing a valuable service to your community. As a drain cleaning professional, you’ll be the hero homeowners and businesses turn to when they’re faced with clogged pipes, backed-up sewers, and other plumbing nightmares.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll walk you through how to start a drain-cleaning business. From understanding the market demand and necessary equipment to developing a solid business plan and attracting clients, we’ve got you covered.

1. Conduct Drain Cleaning Market Research

Conducting thorough market research is crucial when starting a drain-cleaning business. It helps you understand the industry landscape, identify potential customers, and assess the viability of your venture.


To better understand your local market, start by analyzing demographic data. Identify the number of households, businesses, and industrial facilities in your target area. Additionally, research the average age of properties in your area, as older buildings tend to require more frequent drain cleaning services.

Conduct a simple online search to identify existing drain-cleaning businesses in your area. Analyze their services, pricing, and marketing strategies. Look for gaps in the market that your business can fill, such as offering 24/7 emergency services or specializing in eco-friendly drain cleaning methods.

Consider the potential customer segments for your drain or gutter cleaning business. Residential customers, including homeowners and renters, will likely make up a significant portion of your clientele. However, don’t overlook the commercial sector, which includes restaurants, hotels, schools, and office buildings.

To gain a deeper understanding of your target market’s needs and preferences, consider conducting surveys or interviews with potential customers. Ask about their experiences with drain cleaning services, their expectations, and the factors that influence their decision to hire a professional.

Stay informed about industry trends and technological advancements. By conducting thorough market research and staying informed, you’ll be well-positioned to launch a successful drain-cleaning drain-cleaning business that meets the needs of your local community.

2. Analyze the Competition

When starting a drain cleaning business, analyzing your competition is essential to understanding the market landscape and identifying opportunities for differentiation. Begin by conducting a local search for drain-cleaning businesses in your area.


Visit your competitors’ websites to analyze their online presence. Evaluate the quality of their website design, content, and user experience. Check if they have a blog, informative articles, or videos that educate potential customers about drain cleaning services.

Assess your competitors’ social media profiles to understand their engagement with customers and marketing strategies. Look for the types of content they share, the frequency of their posts, and the level of interaction they receive from followers.

If your competitors have brick-and-mortar locations, visit them in person to experience their services firsthand. Observe their customer service, professionalism, and the quality of their work. Take note of their equipment, vehicles, and any unique selling points they may have.

Additionally, research your competitors’ online reputation by reading customer reviews on various platforms. Pay attention to common praises and complaints to understand what customers value and what they find lacking in the current market offerings.

By thoroughly analyzing your competition, you can identify gaps in the market, develop unique selling propositions, and create targeted marketing strategies to attract customers and establish your drain cleaning business as a top choice in your local area.

3. Costs to Start a Drain Cleaning Business

Starting a drain cleaning business requires careful planning and budgeting to ensure success. Let’s break down the start-up and ongoing costs you can expect when launching your venture.

Start-up Costs

  • Business Registration and Licenses: Depending on your location, you may need to register your drain cleaning company and obtain the necessary licenses and permits. Expect to spend between $100 to $500 on these administrative costs.
  • Equipment: Investing in high-quality drain cleaning tools is essential. You’ll need drain cleaners and machinery (around $3,000 to $10,000), various cables and blades ($500 to $1,500), a plumbing snake or auger ($200 to $1,000), and a high-pressure water Jetter ($2,000 to $8,000).
  • Vehicle: A reliable service vehicle is crucial for transporting your equipment and reaching customers. Depending on your needs, you can purchase a used van for around $15,000 to $30,000 or lease one for $500 to $1,000 per month.
  • Inventory: Stock up on essential supplies like drain cleaning chemicals ($500 to $1,500), safety gear ($200 to $500), and miscellaneous plumbing parts ($500 to $1,000).
  • Business Insurance: Protect your business with general liability insurance, which typically costs between $500 to $2,000 annually, depending on your coverage needs.
  • Marketing and Advertising: Allocate a budget for creating a website ($500 to $2,000), designing a logo and business cards ($200 to $500), and initial advertising efforts like online ads and promotional materials ($500 to $2,000).

Ongoing Costs

  • Vehicle Maintenance and Fuel: Regularly maintain your service vehicle and budget for fuel costs. Expect to spend around $500 to $1,000 per month on these expenses.
  • Equipment Maintenance and Replacement: Set aside funds for regular maintenance and eventual replacement of your drain cleaning equipment. Plan for around $1,000 to $3,000 annually.
  • Inventory Replenishment: Keep your inventory of drain cleaning chemicals, safety gear, and plumbing parts well-stocked. Budget approximately $500 to $1,500 per month for these supplies.
  • Business Insurance: Maintain your general liability insurance coverage, which typically costs between $500 to $2,000 annually.
  • Marketing and Advertising: Continue investing in marketing efforts to attract new customers and maintain brand awareness. Allocate around $500 to $1,500 per month for ongoing advertising, website maintenance, and customer retention strategies.
  • Employee Salaries (if applicable): If you plan to hire employees, factor in their salaries and benefits. A skilled drain cleaning technician can expect to earn between $35,000 to $60,000 annually, depending on experience and location.
  • Rent and Utilities (if applicable): If you operate from a physical location, account for monthly rent and utility costs, which can range from $1,000 to $3,000, depending on the size and location of your facility.
  • Professional Services: Set aside funds for professional services like accounting, legal advice, and bookkeeping. Budget around $200 to $500 per month for these services.

Starting a drain cleaning business can require an initial investment of $30,000 to $80,000, depending on factors like equipment quality, vehicle type, and marketing efforts. Ongoing monthly expenses can range from $3,000 to $10,000, with annual costs between $36,000 to $120,000.

4. Form a Legal Business Entity

When starting a drain cleaning business, choosing the right legal entity is crucial for protecting your assets, managing taxes, and facilitating growth. Let’s explore the four main types of business entities and their pros and cons specifically for a drain cleaning business.

Sole Proprietorship

A sole proprietorship is the simplest and most common business structure. As a sole proprietor, you have complete control over your drain-cleaning business, and all profits are yours. However, you are also personally responsible for all debts and liabilities incurred by the business.


A partnership involves two or more individuals who share ownership of the drain-cleaning business. Partnerships can be either general partnerships or limited partnerships. In a general partnership, all partners are equally responsible for the business’s debts and liabilities.

Limited Liability Corporation (LLC)

An LLC is a popular choice for drain-cleaning businesses as it combines the personal liability protection of a corporation with the tax benefits and flexibility of a partnership or sole proprietorship. As an LLC owner, you are not personally responsible for the debts and liabilities of the business, protecting your assets.


A corporation is a separate legal entity owned by shareholders. Corporations offer the most robust personal liability protection, as shareholders are not personally responsible for the business’s debts and liabilities. However, corporations are subject to double taxation as the business pays taxes on its profits.

5. Register Your Business For Taxes

When starting a drain cleaning business, one of the essential steps is to register your business for taxes. This process involves obtaining an Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

An EIN is required for several reasons. First, it allows you to open a business bank account and establish credit in your business’s name. Second, it is necessary for filing business tax returns and hiring employees.

Applying for an EIN is a straightforward process that can be completed online through the IRS website. Visit the IRS EIN application page and follow these steps:

  • Determine your eligibility: Ensure that you have a valid Taxpayer Identification Number (SSN, ITIN, or EIN) and that your business is located in the United States or U.S. territories.
  • Prepare required information: Have your business formation documents, including your LLC operating agreement or corporation bylaws, and the SSN or ITIN of the responsible party (the principal officer, general partner, grantor, owner, or trustor).
  • Complete the online application: Provide your business details, such as the legal name, address, and type of entity, as well as the reason for applying for an EIN.
  • Apply: Review your information for accuracy and submit the application. If everything is correct, you will receive your EIN immediately.

The online EIN application process is free and typically takes less than 15 minutes to complete. Once you have your EIN, you can use it to open a business bank account, file tax returns, and hire employees for your drain cleaning business.

In addition to obtaining an EIN, it’s crucial to register your drain cleaning business with your state’s tax department for sales tax purposes. Sales tax requirements vary by state, so visit your state’s tax agency website to learn about registration procedures, filing frequencies, and any associated costs.

By obtaining an EIN and registering for sales tax, you ensure that your drain cleaning business is compliant with federal and state tax requirements. This not only helps you avoid potential legal issues but also demonstrates your professionalism and commitment to operating a legitimate business.

6. Setup Your Accounting

Setting up your accounting system correctly is crucial for the success of your drain cleaning business. Accurate financial records not only help you make informed business decisions but also ensure compliance with tax laws and regulations.

Accounting Software

Investing in accounting software like QuickBooks can automate much of the accounting process, saving you time and reducing the risk of errors. QuickBooks integrates with your bank accounts and credit cards, automatically categorizing transactions and generating financial reports.

Hire an Accountant

Working with a professional accountant can provide additional benefits. An accountant can offer services such as bookkeeping, financial statement preparation, tax planning, and compliance. They can help you identify tax deductions specific to your drain cleaning business, such as equipment depreciation and vehicle expenses.

Open a Business Bank Account

One of the most important aspects of managing your drain cleaning business’s finances is separating your personal and business finances. Mixing personal and business expenses can create a bookkeeping nightmare and raise red flags with the IRS. Open a business bank account to keep things separate.

Apply for a Business Credit Card

In addition to a business bank account, consider applying for a business credit card. A business credit card can help you manage cash flow, track expenses, and build your business’s credit history. Unlike personal credit cards, business credit card limits are determined based on your business’s revenue and credit history.

7. Obtain Licenses and Permits

Obtaining the proper licenses and permits is a critical step before officially opening your drain-cleaning business. Find federal license information through the U.S. Small Business Administration. The SBA also offers a local search tool for state and city requirements.

One of the most important licenses for a drain cleaning business is a plumbing contractor license. This license demonstrates that you have the necessary skills, knowledge, and experience to perform drain cleaning and plumbing services safely and effectively.

In addition to a plumbing contractor license, your drain cleaning business may need to obtain a general business license from your local city or county government. A general business license ensures that your business complies with local zoning regulations and building codes.

If your drain cleaning business plans to operate vehicles, you’ll need to obtain commercial vehicle licenses and registrations. These licenses ensure that your vehicles meet safety standards and are properly insured.

Depending on the nature of your drain cleaning services and the types of waste you handle, you may also need to obtain environmental permits. For example, if your business generates hazardous waste, such as certain drain cleaning chemicals, you may need to obtain a hazardous waste generator permit.

It’s also important to consider local permits that may be specific to your business location or the services you offer. For example, if you plan to operate your drain cleaning business from a commercial property, you may need to obtain a certificate of occupancy from your local building department.

8. Get Business Insurance

Business insurance is a critical component of running a successful drain-cleaning business. It provides financial protection against various risks and liabilities that could potentially damage or destroy your company. Investing in the right insurance coverage can give you peace of mind.

The primary reason to obtain business insurance for your drain cleaning business is to protect your company from financial losses due to accidents, injuries, property damage, or legal claims.

If one of your employees accidentally damages a customer’s property while performing a drain cleaning service, your business could be held liable for the repair costs. Without adequate insurance coverage, you would have to pay for these expenses out of pocket, which could significantly impact your business’s financial stability.

Consider these three scenarios where not having business insurance could put your drain-cleaning business at risk:

  1. An employee slips and falls while on a job site, sustaining a serious injury. Without workers’ compensation insurance, your business would be responsible for covering the employee’s medical expenses and lost wages, which could amount to tens of thousands of dollars.
  2. A customer claims that your drain cleaning services caused damage to their plumbing system and filed a lawsuit against your business. Without professional liability insurance, you would have to pay for legal defense costs and any settlement or judgment out of pocket, potentially bankrupting your business.
  3. A fire breaks out at your business premises, destroying your equipment, inventory, and customer records. Without property insurance, you would have to bear the cost of replacing your assets and rebuilding your business from scratch, which could be financially devastating.

To protect your drain cleaning business from these and other risks, it’s essential to obtain the right types of business insurance. The process of getting business insurance typically involves assessing your business’s risks, determining the types of coverage you need, shopping around, and purchasing the policy.

9. Create an Office Space

Having a dedicated office space for your drain cleaning business can provide numerous benefits, even if most of your work is performed on-site at customer locations. An office space can serve as a central hub for administrative tasks, storing equipment and supplies, and meeting with clients or employees.

Home Office

For many small drain cleaning businesses, a home office can be a practical and cost-effective solution. If you have a spare room or dedicated space in your home, you can set up a functional office without incurring additional rent or lease expenses. A home office is particularly suitable if you have a small team.

Coworking Office

If you prefer a more professional setting outside your home, a coworking office can be a great option. Coworking spaces like WeWork offer flexible, affordable office solutions for small businesses and entrepreneurs. With a coworking office, you can rent a dedicated desk or private office space every month.

Retail Office

If your drain cleaning business involves selling products or services directly to customers, a retail office may be appropriate. A retail office combines a storefront with a workspace, allowing you to display products, interact with customers, and handle administrative tasks in one location.

10. Source Your Equipment

When starting a drain cleaning business, sourcing the right equipment is crucial for providing efficient and effective services to your clients. The required materials and equipment may vary depending on the scope of your services, but some essential items include drain-cleaning machines, plumbing snakes, and augers.

Buying New

Purchasing new equipment ensures that you have reliable, high-quality tools that are ready to use and covered by manufacturer warranties. You can buy new equipment from local plumbing supply stores, hardware stores, or online retailers like Home Depot or Grainger.

Buying Used

Purchasing used equipment can be a cost-effective way to acquire the tools you need, especially when starting your business on a tight budget. You can find used drain cleaning equipment on online marketplaces like Facebook Marketplace, eBay, Craigslist, or LetGo.


Renting drain cleaning equipment can be a smart choice if you’re just starting or if you need specialized tools for a specific job. Renting allows you to access high-quality equipment without the significant upfront investment of purchasing. You can rent equipment from local tool rental shops, and home improvement stores.


Leasing drain cleaning equipment is another option that allows you to spread the cost of equipment over time while using the latest tools. Leasing is similar to renting but typically involves a longer-term commitment and may include maintenance and repair services.

11. Establish Your Brand Assets

Establishing a strong brand is crucial for any drain-cleaning business looking to stand out in a competitive industry. A well-defined brand helps customers recognize and remember your business, builds trust and credibility, and ultimately leads to increased customer loyalty and revenue.


Getting a Business Phone Number

Having a dedicated business phone number is essential for presenting a professional image and ensuring that customers can easily reach you. A service like Ring Central offers virtual phone systems that allow you to maintain a separate business line, even if you’re using your phone.

Creating a Logo and Brand Assets

A well-designed logo is the foundation of your brand identity. Use a tool like Looka to create a professional logo and complementary brand assets, such as color palettes, fonts, and imagery, that you can use consistently across all your marketing materials.

Creating Business Cards and Signage

Business cards are a tangible representation of your brand and a powerful networking tool. If a satisfied customer wants to refer you to a friend, a business card makes it easy for them to pass along your information. Vistaprint offers a wide range of business card templates.

Purchasing a Domain Name

Consider investing in a “.com” domain, as it is the most widely recognized and trusted domain extension. Use a reputable domain registrar like Namecheap to search for available domain names and register your chosen one before someone else does.

Building a Website

Your website is often the first point of contact between your drain cleaning business and potential customers. Tools like Wix offer user-friendly drag-and-drop interfaces that allow you to create a professional-looking website without any coding knowledge. Hiring a professional web designer from a platform like Fiverr can be a great option.

12. Join Associations and Groups

Joining associations and groups is a powerful way to network, learn from industry experts, and grow your drain-cleaning business. These communities provide valuable opportunities to connect with fellow professionals, share experiences, and stay up-to-date on the latest trends and best practices in the field.

Local Associations

Joining local trade associations is an excellent way to establish your presence in the local business community and build relationships with other drain-cleaning professionals. Start by searching for plumbing or drain cleaning associations in your area, such as the Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors Association (PHCC).

Local Meetups

Attending local meetups and trade shows is another effective way to connect with industry professionals and stay informed about the latest developments in drain cleaning. Use platforms like Meetup to find relevant events in your area.

Facebook Groups

Facebook groups have become a valuable resource for businesses looking to connect with others in their industry, share knowledge, and seek advice. Join groups like Commercial & Residential Cleaning Business Owners and Sewer & Drain Cleaning Talk.

13. How to Market a Drain Cleaning Business

Marketing is the lifeblood of any successful business, and a drain-cleaning business is no exception. To attract new customers, retain existing ones, and ultimately grow your business, you must implement a comprehensive marketing strategy that reaches your target audience effectively.

Personal Networking

When starting your drain cleaner small business, your most valuable marketing asset is your network. Leverage your personal and professional connections to spread the word about your services, and encourage satisfied customers to refer their friends and family.

Digital Marketing

  • Implement a search engine optimization (SEO) strategy to improve your website’s visibility in search results for relevant keywords like “drain cleaning services” or “clogged drain solutions.”
  • Run targeted Google Ads campaigns to reach potential customers actively searching for drain cleaning services in your area.
  • Create engaging social media content on platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to showcase your expertise, share helpful tips, and interact with your audience.
  • Develop a content marketing strategy by starting a blog on your website, covering topics related to drain cleaning, plumbing maintenance, and DIY tips for minor issues.
  • Utilize email marketing to stay in touch with past customers, offer promotional deals, and provide valuable information to keep your business top-of-mind.

Traditional Marketing

  • Distribute eye-catching flyers and door hangers in targeted neighborhoods to raise awareness about your drain cleaning services and special promotions.
  • Sponsor local events or sports teams to increase brand visibility and establish your business as a committed member of the community.
  • Consider placing ads in local newspapers, magazines, or directories that cater to homeowners and property managers.
  • Attend local home and garden shows or trade fairs to showcase your services, network with potential customers, and generate leads.
  • While traditional marketing methods like billboards or radio ads can be effective for certain businesses, they may not always provide the best return on investment for a drain cleaning service. Focus on targeted, cost-effective strategies that directly reach your ideal customers.

In addition to these marketing tactics, prioritize delivering exceptional customer service and building a strong reputation in your community.

14. Focus on the Customer

Customer service is the cornerstone of any successful drain-cleaning business. In an industry where customers often seek help during stressful and urgent situations, providing exceptional service can make all the difference.


As mentioned earlier prioritizing customer service, demonstrates a commitment to client needs. For example, when a customer calls with a backed-up sewer line, responding promptly, communicating clearly, and resolving the issue efficiently can turn a stressful situation into a positive experience.

Satisfied customers are more likely to recommend your services to friends, family, and neighbors, in residential and commercial jobs. By consistently delivering top-notch service, you can turn one-time customers into lifelong advocates for your drain cleaning business.

To excel in customer service over the long haul, new entrepreneurs should focus on clear communication, transparency, and follow-through. Provide accurate estimates, explain the work you’ll be doing, and keep customers informed throughout the process.

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