How to Use a Drain Snake

Homeowner wondering how to use a drain snake.

Are your drains constantly clogged? Are you tired of clearing clogs using plungers and drain cleaner only for them to return weeks later? If so, it’s time to learn how to use a drain snake; it can help you tackle stubborn obstructions more effectively.

These handy tools can be found at most hardware stores and are a great way to address difficult clogs that don’t quite require professional intervention. 

Explore the following sections to learn more about drain snakes and how to use them.

What Are Drain Snakes?

A drain snake, also known as a plumber’s snake or a drain auger, is a long, flexible tool used to clear clogs. They typically have a helix-shaped metal wire at one end and a crank handle on the other. The helix end is inserted into a drain to grab or break up any obstructions in the pipe. The auger can even break up mineral deposits, preventing clogs caused by sediment buildup.

There are a few types of drain snakes, including:

  • Hand augers: Hand augers clear clogs in sink and bathtub drains, though they do not work for toilets. They have a thin profile, enabling them to fit down small drains. These augers vary in appearance, with some featuring drum-shaped crank handles and others with a simple crank on the non-drain end. Despite their differences, they all accomplish the same task.
  • Closet augers (toilet augers): Closet augers clear clogs in toilets. They are wider than drain augers, and the snake emerges from a large, hook-shaped pipe. This pipe makes it easier to navigate the auger into the toilet drain without damaging the bowl.
  • Drum augers: Drum augers are motorized drain augers that use blades to clear obstructions. They are powerful enough to cut through solid objects like tree roots and can damage pipes if used carelessly. These augers are usually reserved for professional use.

Proper Drain Snake Technique

Using a drain snake is straightforward, but it’s still essential to ensure you’re doing it correctly. Incorrectly using these devices can damage your drains, sinks, and tubs. Here’s how to use a drain snake correctly:

  1. Push the coiled end of the snake into the opening of the drain. Turn the handle on the auger as you lower it into the drain.
  2. Continue to feed the snake into the drain while rotating the handle. You may need to push a little harder wherever the pipe bends. Once you make it past the bend, the snake should move smoothly until it reaches the clog.
  3. Once you hit the clog, rotate the snake handle clockwise. The auger should dig into solid objects and break up softer obstructions. If the snake gets easier to twist, you’ve likely broken through the clog. If the twisting motion remains difficult, the snake is embedded in the clog and ready to be pulled out.
  4. After breaking or grabbing the obstacle, carefully pull the tube out of the drain. Discard any clog material in a trash can.
  5. Run the water at full force for a few minutes to ensure the clog is cleared. If the water flows down the drain smoothly while the tap is on, the clog is gone.

Drain Snake FAQs

Are drain snakes bad for pipes?

Drain snakes are safe when used correctly; misusing them could result in pipe damage. They can scratch up metal pipes if too much force is applied. These scratches expose the metal of the pipe, leading to rust buildup, cracks, and corrosion over time.

You can also damage your pipe with a drain snake by attempting to clear a clog in a corroded drain. Feeding a snake down a corroded pipe can scrape off bits of metal, worsening the clog.

Drain snakes can also damage pipes if you use the wrong snake type. This tends to occur when home plumbers use a drain snake in their toilet and scratch the bowl. In a worst-case scenario, a small drain auger can get lost inside the toilet drain, causing clogs and other damage that might require pipe replacement.

If you’re concerned about these issues, it’s best to rely on the professional plumbers at Mr. Rooter® Plumbing for clog clearing.

Do You Have a Clog Your Drain Snake Can’t Clear? Call Mr. Rooter Plumbing

Knowing how to use a drain snake can help you clear stubborn clogs in your sink and shower, but they can’t resolve every issue. If you have a clog deep in your pipes or are going up against an obstruction too tough for a home auger, you need professional help.

Thankfully, the plumbers at Mr. Rooter Plumbing have the tools to clear even the most troublesome obstacles in your drain pipe. Contact us today and let our team restore your drain’s functionality.