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How to Use a Plumbing Snake

How to Use a Plumbing Snake

When big clogs come knocking, it’s time to whip out a plumbing snake. Plumbing snakes are a staple in the DIY home improvement world. 

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Outside of a plunger, a plumbing snake is perhaps the most popular method to push out nasty drain clogs that are flooding your sinks, showers, and bathtubs. 

However, unlike a plunger, they do present homeowners with a bit of a learning curve. They aren’t as intuitive as plungers and have a few more pieces. Learn how to use a plumbing snake so clogs never get you down again.  

What Is a Plumbing Snake? 

A plumbing hose is a flexible, slim metal cable with an auger and handle. The auger (or sometimes an uncoiled spring), will push down the drain to break up a clog and clear obstructions. 

These are great to use if a plunger doesn’t quite have the muscle to unclog a blockage. Plumbing snakes are also great because they can work on pretty much any sink. However, there is one exception: if you’re using a snake for a clog in a toilet, you’ll need to get a specific toilet snake. This is because plumbing snakes can damage toilets.

Types of Plumbing Snakes

There are various types of plumbing snakes available for purchase. You can buy such plumbing snakes like toilet augers, top snakes, medium drain machines, and large drain machines. 

A toilet auger is a specialty type of auger that is used for clogs in your toilet. These drain snakes are designed specifically for removing stubborn blockages. If you have urinals in your home or business, you can also buy specialized urinal augers that can effectively clear stoppages.

Top snakes are the typical plumbing snakes, and are designed to clean kitchen sink drains and deeper blockages. These augers are the most effective with a cable length of 50 to 75 feet. 

Meanwhile, medium or heavy duty drain snakes are tools that can clear the toughest blockages. These snakes can be as long as 50 to 100 feet. 

When to Use a Plumbing Snake 

Are you having trouble unclogging your drain with a plunger? It may be time to use a plumbing snake. 

If the plunger isn’t effective, it’s likely that the clog is too large or too far down the pipe to be dislodged with pressure alone. A plumbing snake will provide the necessary leverage to remove stubborn blockages.

However, if the snake doesn’t work after trying it three times or more, it’s best to seek professional help. It’s important to consult a trusted plumber to avoid causing further damage. 

Plumber using drain snakeSteps to Use a Plumbing Snake

Learning how to use a plumbing snake to fix a clogged drain is easy to do. Simply check out these steps below to begin using your auger. 

Insert the Auger

The first step to clear the blockage is to insert the auger into the drain. You can also decide to remove the p-trap, which is the curved pipe located underneath the sink. 

Removing the p-trap can make the snaking process easier. Once you know where the clog is, it can make fixing the clog that much easier. 

To remove the p-trap, you can either use a wrench or remove it with your hands. Keep in mind that if you do indeed remove the p-trap, you will need to insert the auger directly into the pipes rather than through the drain.

Begin Uncoiling the Plumbing Snake

Once your snake is in the drain (or the pipes if you’ve removed the p-trap), you can uncoil the spring by turning the handle. 

Though this may seem like the easiest step, it’s still important to move at a careful, controlled pace. As you rotate the handle, don’t go too fast. Moving too fast or using excessive force will cause damage to the drain entrance or pipe.

Once you’ve gotten the right pace, continue to rotate the handle. In a few moments, the coil should progress through the pipe. When you encounter resistance, you’ll know that you have reached the blockage. 

Uncoil the Snake until You Reach the Blockage

To clear a blockage, gently move the head of the auger back and forth to loosen it. If the auger becomes stuck, try to remove it from the pipe as it may dislodge the obstruction. 

Keep using the auger until you no longer feel any resistance or pressure.

Remove Plumbing Snake and Test if the Pipe is Unclogged

After using the snake to unclog the sink, make sure to remove it and reassemble the sink. 

Check to confirm that the clog has been removed and the sink is now draining properly. If it still isn’t, repeat the snaking process and try again. If the issue persists, it’s best to seek professional help.

When to Call in the Pros at Elite Heating & Air 

No matter how well you wield that plumbing snake, sometimes there are clogs too big for a homeowner to clear. When this happens, call a certified technician at Elite Heating & Air. 

When you book an appointment, you can take advantage of plumbing services such as: 

Call our team today to get started.