How To Use A Plumbing Snake?

How To Use A Plumbing Snake

What You Will Need

  • Plumbing snake
  • Pipe wrench
  • Pliers
  • Rubber gloves
  • Eye protection
  • Sponge
  • Empty bucket

As a professional handyman, one of the most common calls I get is unclogging a drain. Unclogging most drains and plumbing systems in your own home can be done without spending additional dollars to have a handyman like me do the work for you. Sometimes a plunger works for little clogs. But when a plunger isn’t doing the trick, you’re going to have to use a plumbing snake, also called an auger.

Plumbing snakes come in different sizes for different applications. Every plumbing system in your home is unique and you need to make sure you are using the proper snake for the correct plumbing system. Your local hardware store and large home improvement stores will have plumbing snakes to buy, and places like Home Depot will have snakes or augers that you can rent. Be sure to let them know which system you are unclogging and you can rent or sell the right snake for the job.

How To Use A Plumbing Snake

To use a snake in a bathtub drain, first, remove the overflow plate that sits above the bathtub drain. Insert the wire into the overflow line. If you are going to unclog a shower drain, you will need to remove the strainer on the floor of the shower and then run the cable to the drain. If it is a drain in the kitchen or bathroom sink, you may have to go under the sink and remove the trap. You can then run the plumbing snake through the drain pipes.

Plumbing Snake

Once the snake reaches the obstruction, you will need to turn the handle of the snake to the right so that the tip of the snake becomes obstructed. Then twist, push, and pull the cable to break the obstruction. With most drain pipes, you will encounter bends and twists in the pipes and will need to use moderate force to get through the turns.

Types Of Snakes To Use In Specific Drains

Inauguration Of The Toilet

A toilet auger is the only type of snake that is safe for unclogging your toilet. This auger will not damage your toilet bowl and the cord is designed not to close back on itself when it hits the clog.

Bathtubs And Showers

When winding a tub or shower, a thin wire should be used to make the bends in the trap and also to prevent damage to the drain line under the tub. A snake with a wire gauge of 1/4 “to 5/16” is ideal.

Kitchen And Bathroom Sinks

The best is snake sink drains under the sink. You will need to remove the trap located in and under the sink. Place an empty bucket under the pipes to catch the water trapped inside. Insert the snake into the drain line and use the same type of snake mentioned above for tubs and showers to unclog the drain – sometimes only the trap itself is clogged. However, I suggest snaking the drain to make sure there is no other stoppage.

Main Line Drains

Here’s a big one. Mainlines are generally 3 and rdquo; or larger and will require a large drain snake to clear the detention. This will require a much larger and more powerful snake. So far, we have been discussing manual or endless snakes that you can rent or buy. To unclog or clean your mainline, you will need an electric snake. It’s best to rent these machines from your local hardware store, as they can be very expensive to buy. You will need to find the cleanout plug located in your basement or outside your home where the mainline leaves the house. Make sure you get a quick lesson from the store where you rent on the proper use of the specific machine you are using.

Once you’ve cleared the clog and reconnected any plumbing fixtures, such as traps, strainers, or pipes that you had to remove, be sure to run the water and make sure there are no leaks and the drain is clear of debris.

Final Thoughts

Unclogging a drain or pipe can be a messy but necessary job. It can also be expensive to pay a professional to do it for you. You can do the job yourself, however, by following the simple instructions above. But be sure to use the right snake for the job, always wear protective gear, and follow the instructions that accompany the brand of snake you rent or buy.


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