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How to Use a Snake to Unclog a Drain

A plumbers snake otherwise known as a drain snake in front of a white background.

Whether you are using your bathroom sink or kitchen sink or ready to feel the hot water hit you as you shower. Whenever there is a blockage, and you have a clogged drain, life can feel like it stops until that backup clears and the drain opening is restored. 

Often, the best way to deal with stubborn clogs is to prevent them from happening at all. Homeowners use many DIY drain cleaning tricks, from baking soda, vinegar, and drain cleaner to corkscrews and other items to keep the build-up to a minimum, for floor drains, main drains, shower drains, bathtub drains, sink drains, drain pipes, p-traps and more. 

If you are past being able to prevent a clogged drain, however, there are a number of options and tools at your disposal. The most common being a plunger and drain snakes. While cleaning and plunging can often do the trick, sometimes, you need something with more power to clean out that drain line. This post will discuss how you can use a drain auger, or plumber’s snake, to get rid of tough clogs.

First of all, what is a drain auger or drain snake? This is a quarter-inch thick coil that has a handle. They go by various names, snake cable, toilet auger, auger, plumbing snake, plumber’s snake, and more. You would send the snake down the drain through the clog, sending parts of it down or pulling the obstruction out. This auger can be a powerful unclogging tool, as it can reach clogs that are far down the pipe, well beyond the stopper. Where can you find this snake tool? One option is to rent it, either one that you will turn on by hand or an electrical auger. Having rubber gloves and safety glasses on hand is also a good idea when unclogging a blocked drain.

How to Snake a Drain

Even though using this tool can be straightforward, you should still talk to the dealer about how to use the tool. Generally speaking, though, this is what you should do and how plumbing snakes work:

  1. Insert the end of the snake (auger head) into the drain, then crank the handle to send the snake along.
  2. You might also need to push the snake down as you crank, giving it the force necessary to navigate that bend in the pipe (the drain trap/p-trap and the trap arm between the p-trap and wall) under your sink. After that point, the only thing that should slow the snake down is the clog.
  3. When the snake finds the clog, keep turning. This can break the clog up or attach the snake to the clog so you can pull both out simultaneously.
  4. Turn the water on all the way for several minutes. Check that the clog is really out of the way and that your tub drain/sink drain/floor drain/main drain is open.

Other Methods for Unclogging a Drain

If you’re unsure about your home’s plumbing or don’t have much experience with home improvement, it’s best to contact a licensed plumber to handle and drain clogs or sewer line issues. But if you have some experience with plumbing and home improvement, here are some DIY tips you could try before immediately calling a plumber to unclog your drain.

Do not use Chemical Drain cleaners

We don’t recommend using chemical drain cleaners like Drano. Chemical drain cleaners can cause more harm than good for your plumbing system. Even though most homeowners immediately consider applying a chemical drain cleaner to their clogged drains, we recommend trying a different method to save you the headache.

Using a natural drain cleaner instead of a chemical one

Using a natural drain cleaner is highly recommended instead of a chemical drain cleaner. There are several solutions homeowners can use that are made with natural ingredients that will not harm your plumbing system and have more benefits than any chemical drain cleaner.

Mechanical Drain Cleaners are King

Mechanical drain cleaners include plungers, wire hangers with a hook at the end, Zip-Its, water-powered devices, and drain snakes (augers). These drain cleaners are safe, effective, affordable, and a fast-acting remover when there’s standing water in your shower drain, kitchen sink, or other clogged drain.

For more detail and a complete list of ways to clear out a drain, you can find that here.

Other Methods for Unclogging a Drain

As a homeowner, you can save a lot of money, time, and headaches if you can maintain a healthy plumbing system. Having the knowledge to keep your drains cleaned will give you the know-how of what to do next time you have a clogged drain, slow drain, or general issue with your running water. 

Some people have their own opinions of what they think is the best way to keep a drain unclogged, but the real answer is to stay ahead of any trouble in the first place. Relying on a professional plumbing service to care for your plumbing system will be your best bet in combating clogged drains or general plumbing issues. A-1 Sewer & Septic Service are trusted Kansas City professional plumbers that get the job done every time. 

Call A-1 Sewer & Septic Service for Expert Help 24/7

At whatever point you experience trouble with your drains, you can find the friendly assistance you need at A-1 Sewer & Septic Service, Inc. We’ve been serving the Kansas City area for more than four decades with expert plumbing services. No job is too small or too great for our expert plumbing team to handle. We can handle nearly all kinds of drain cleaning for any type of drain, including removing tree roots, gunk build-up, grease, or any other blockages. We can also service garbage disposals, main drains, sinks, faucets, clogged toilets, septic tanks, and grinder pumps. Don’t hesitate to check out our online specials or to schedule your estimate. Call a trusted Kansas City professional plumber today!