How to Use a Drain Snake

How do you use a drain snake? We'll tell you. Learn how to unclog a blocked drain yourself without paying for a plumber.

Drain Snakes: How To Unclog A Sink, Toilet, or Tub

If one of your home’s drains is clogged, then you may be considering getting your hands on a drain snake. Made to help clear out clogged pipes, drain snakes are a fantastic tool for those who want to try and clean out their own drains instead of having to call in a pricey professional.

If this is your first time using a drain snake, keep reading to find out what exactly they are, how to use them, and what benefits they can have on your home and pipes.

What Is a Drain Snake?

Drain snakes are known by quite a few names, including a plumbing snake, a toilet jack, and a rooter. At their basis, drain snakes are long, coiled augers that are made to clear out drains when drain cleaners and other solutions fail.

The way drain snakes work is by cutting apart and removing clogs. Drain snakes are inserted directly into the clogged piping and can be a quick and easy way to fix any clogged drain.

What Are the Different Types of Drain Snakes?

Just because they share a common purpose doesn’t mean that all drain snakes work in the same way. Hand spinners, toilet augers, drum augers, and electric augers all have different specifications that make them better for some scenarios and less helpful in others.

Hand spinners are ideal for using in sink and bathtub drains because they are most useful in narrow plumbing. If used in wider drain pipes, such as the toilet, they can become tangled.

Toilet augers, also known as closet augers, feed a hook-shaped tube into the toilet to remove clogs. These tools have a short cable, only allowing them to reach blocks that are close to the toilet bowl.

Drum augers cut through clogs with modular blades, making them great for difficult clogs. However, because of their sharp edges, drum augers should really only be used by professionals so as not to damage any pipework.

Electric augers are one of the earliest drain snakes. Also known as roto rooters, electric augers make use of rotating blades that were originally made to cut through tree roots that get lodged in sewer pipes.

How to Use a Drain Snake

Depending on what kind of drain snake you purchase, the directions may be different. However, generally speaking, drain snakes follow a specific pattern for use.

Firstly, push the snake’s end into the drain’s opening and then turn the handle so that the auger can make its way deep into your drain. You’ll want to keep pushing the drain snake until you feel resistance. Sometimes you might hit a bend in the pipe, so don’t be afraid to apply a little extra pressure if need be to get around it.

Once you feel that the drain snake is pressed firmly again a clog or blockage, rotate the snake’s hand to cut apart whatever is causing the clog. After it feels that twisting the snake is no longer cutting through anything, you can remove the snake from the drain. Most likely, the clog will come up with the drain snake.

Why Use a Drain Snake?

There are quite a few benefits to using a drain snake. For starters, some drain cleaners contain harmful chemicals that are both dangerous to you and harmful to your pipes. Drain snakes don’t require any chemical use, as they simply function by cutting clogs apart.

Drain snakes are also more powerful when it comes to clearing drains. Many times, a drain snake can break through blockages that a typical drain cleaner cannot. Overall, drain snakes are a faster, more efficient way to improve your drain life. Not only can they get rid of tough clogs, but they can also help prevent clogs from forming in the first place.

Should You Buy a Drain Snake?

Our final verdict is an easy one: yes, you should absolutely invest in a drain snake. These powerful tools can be used on their own or in conjunction with drain cleaners, ensuring that your pipes stay clean, clear, and odor-free.

Because of their reusable nature, purchasing a solid drain snake can last you years, saving you money and professional assistance in the long run.

Resources— Meticulous Plumbing, Dummies, Dr. Pipe