How to Unclog Drains with a Plunger or Plumbing Snake: Edmonton Plumber Approved Guide


Nasty smelling, inconvenient, aggravating, unsanitary clogs are an unfortunate fact of life that will be encountered by anyone who uses a plumbing system—and, as it turns out, that’s pretty much everyone. This is why it’s extremely useful to know the steps you can take to get wastewater flowing freely again with a plunger or plumbing snake. Plumbers from a team in Edmonton, like ours, are always happy to give you that guidance.

Most people in Edmonton have a toilet plunger because it’s very common for toilets to become blocked with a minor clog and need a little help. But, did you know a different kind of plunger can be used to unblock flat drains in fixtures such as sinks, bathtubs, and showers? And there are other drain cleaning tools, such as plumbing snakes, that can be helpful for certain kinds of clogs—such as a big clump of hair in a shower drain. This guide covers the steps you can follow to get your sewer lines operating again, including how to use a plumbing snake and a plunger.

Some people aren't prepared to use a plumbing snake on their own—or aren't interested in trying. That's understandable! It can be a messy and difficult job. If you would prefer to have someone take care of it for you, and clean up after themselves before they leave, call the team of skilled Edmonton plumbers at Mr. Rooter Plumbing of Edmonton. Our expert technicians have years and in some cases decades, of plumbing experience. We take pride in delivering the highest standard of workmanship and customer service with every job.

How to Remove Clogs with a Plunger, Plumbing Snake, and Other Methods

It isn't just plumbers who should know how to unclog a pipe using a plumbing snake. Edmonton homes are affected by blockages all the time, so everyone should have a basic idea of how to cope with them. Although, it’s possible to drastically reduce the occurrences with regular maintenance and Edmonton drain cleaning services. A lot of clogs can be handled with a plunger or plumbing snake and enough elbow grease, but there are situations where basic just isn't going to cut it. That is when you should call a qualified plumber in Edmonton.

1. Get Prepared

The very first step you take is to prepare the area near your clogged fixture. That’s true whether you’re planning to get rid of the blockage yourself or make an appointment for professional Edmonton plumbing repairs. To be completely honest, there could be some splashing. Something as quick and simple as putting down newspaper or old rags around the fixture that you will be working on will make cleaning up a lot easier. You should also change into old clothes you don't mind getting dirty and put on a pair of rubber gloves and safety goggles.

2. Clog Remover Tool Check

If you already have a plumbing snake and plunger on hand, you’re all set. But if you don't, you'll need to buy a plunger and buy, rent, or even make a plumbing snake. Get the plunger first, since it’s a good idea to have one on hand for dealing with minor clogs, and give it a try. If that doesn't work, look into getting a plumbing snake. There are many options available for homeowners when it comes to buying a plumbing snake at Edmonton hardware stores, so make sure you choose one that will meet your needs.

If you aren't able or willing to spend your time trying to extract gross substances from your pipes with a plumbing snake, our Edmonton experts are always happy to take care of it quickly and efficiently. We have advanced tools and techniques that exceed the abilities of a normal plumbing snake, and we even clean up after ourselves before we leave!

Did you know there are different types of plungers? It’s important to get the right kind for the drain you’re trying to unclog, or you won't get very far. Cup-shaped plungers are for unclogging relatively flat drains, like a bathroom sink drain or tub drain, because they can form a seal around the opening. But clogged toilets call for a bell or ball-shaped plunger that has a bulb head, usually with a flange on the end, and can form a seal in a toilet drain. Anybody in Edmonton planning to take care of their own blockages should try to have one of each.

There’s also a plumbing snake specifically for toilets called a toilet auger. It operates in the same way as a regular plumbing snake but has a rubber "bumper" to prevent the cable from scratching porcelain. Some plumbers in Edmonton use even more advanced tools, but those are best left to the professionals.

3. Try a Plunger

Once you have the correct type of plunger in hand, check the water level in your fixture. If there is standing water in it, fine. If there isn't, add an inch or two of water to help the plunger form a seal and suction properly. Then place your plunger over the drain, push down on the handle, and pull up sharply (but not too sharply the first few times until it's really firmly sealed on).

If you feel suction let up and water starts to flow out, let it go and then run some hot water in the fixture or flush your toilet to ensure the wastewater is emptying smoothly again. Don't get discouraged if it doesn't happen right away. It can take a considerable amount of plunging to work a clog loose. This method tends to work best on soft clogs, which are usually big clumps of hair, soap scum, solidified grease, and similar substances. If you accidentally let something hard like a small toy or a shampoo bottle cap fall down your drain, plunging is not going to get it out. In that case, you may need to make a trip to one of Edmonton’s hardware stores or get help from someone with the right tools and experience.

4. Time for the Plumbing Snake

If you've given the plunger a shot and it didn't work, it's worth trying a plumbing snake. Edmonton homeowners have had success using them for soft or fibrous blockages, particularly hair clumps. A plumbing snake is a long cable, also called a drain auger, that usually consists of a spiraled auger head on a flexible 25 - 100-foot cable. There are electric plumbing snakes and manual options. You can also get a battery-powered plumbing snake or one that can be connected to power tools, such as a power drill, for better performance. In any case, you should follow the manufacturer's instructions and safety rules closely when using a plumbing snake.

But, if you don't have an actual plumbing snake available to you at the moment and you can see the clog just a short distance down the sink or bathtub drain, you can make your own snake out of a wire coat hanger. Straighten out the hanger and bend one end into a long, narrow hook shape. The goal is to lower the hook into your drain, push it through the clog until you don't feel resistance anymore, then slowly pull it back up—hopefully with the debris attached. You might not get the entire clog in one go, so check if you can see any more remnants and pull them up as well. Then run hot water in your fixture to rinse out the pipe. Be careful not to scratch or damage your porcelain fixtures with this technique, or else you might need to make an appointment with your local Edmonton plumbers.

5. Call the Pros at Mr. Rooter Plumbing of Edmonton

When you've plunged until your arms ache and fished around with your plumbing snake, but nothing is working, you need to call in a professional—AKA, an experienced Edmonton plumber like our team. Even with the best available plumbing snake, Edmonton homeowners sometimes still struggle to clear blockages. Sometimes a stubborn clog is so deep there’s simply nothing you can do without professional equipment and expertise.

It could also turn out that your stubborn clog isn't really a clog at all. Extremely tough clogs, or blockages that recur frequently, could actually be a problem with tree root intrusion. That’s not something you’ll be able to fix with a makeshift plumbing snake. Edmonton homeowners suffering from serious plumbing problems should always call a licensed plumber.

Even if you don't have trees in your yard, far-reaching roots in Edmonton can wrap themselves around your buried pipes and constrict as they grow, squeezing the pipe until it cracks. Once the roots touch water inside the pipe, they begin to grow rapidly and fill up space—blocking the flow of wastewater and forcing the pipe further apart. The good news is, our skilled plumbers have plenty of experience using advanced pipe repair techniques in Edmonton. Whatever the problem is, we will resolve it efficiently.

Why is the Drain Blocked in My Edmonton Home?

While it’s important to note that tough clogs can be caused by more nefarious invaders such as tree roots, the number one cause of blockages by far is when people wash substances and items down the drain that really shouldn't be in there. The list of stuff that should be going down your drains is really short: wastewater, and in the case of toilets, human waste, and toilet paper. That's it. You can get away with some food scraps if you have a garbage disposal, and you can't really avoid soap scum, but everything else can and should be kept out of your drains. Need more info? Check out ourultimate guide to preventing clogged drains.


Fats, oils, and grease are among the absolute worst substances that can get into your sewer lines. In fact, they’re so notorious, they even have their own acronym in the plumbing industry: FOG. Stuff like bacon grease and cooking oil might be in liquid form when you pour them into your kitchen sink, but FOG coats the inside walls of the pipes and solidifies, creating a thick, sticky mess that grabs and holds anything that follows it down the drain.

What Do Plumbers Use for Clearing Clogs in Edmonton?

Our team of plumbers has a wide range of tools and equipment at their disposal to handle even the worst clogs. That includes electric drain snakes with a 25-foot reach or longer, but it also includes advanced technology such as HydroScrub® Jetting and video camera inspection.

Hydro jetting is a revolutionary drain cleaning technique that uses high-pressure water jets to blast away clogs from inside your sewer lines and push them into Edmonton’s municipal sewer system. It doesn't just unblock the drain, it scours the inside of your pipes clean, which makes it much more difficult for clogs to form in the future. Hydro jetting also extends your sewer line’s overall lifespan, so you can avoid repairs and replacements in the future.

If you need to find out the exact nature or location of a clog in your plumbing system, video camera inspection is particularly useful. A small video camera with bright LED lights is attached to a flexible cable and lowered into your drain, then maneuvered through the pipe while it records footage inside the line. Once it has been retrieved, your plumber can play back the footage and interpret it to discover exactly what the problem is and come up with a strategy to take care of it. Video inspection is also really helpful to confirm that pipes are in good condition when buying or selling a home in Edmonton.

No Luck with the Plunger or Plumbing Snake? Mr. Rooter Plumbing of Edmonton!

Whether you’re in Pleasantview, Gold Bar, or another part of the Edmonton area, the team of professional plumbers at Mr. Rooter Plumbing of Edmonton is ready to deliver top-quality workmanship and outstanding customer service.

Pick up the phone and get in touch with us today to schedule a convenient appointment. Or, chat with our friendly customer service staff about what we can do to get your plumbing system back in perfect working order, so you never have to look at another plumbing snake again.