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What Is a Sink Auger?


When it comes to homeowners tackling clogs in the kitchen sink, bathroom sink or other sink drains, few things can be as effective on a clogged drain as a sink drain auger, or drain snake. While using a plunger first can help remove the blockage, opting to use a plumbing snake to auger or “rooterstubborn clogs instead of drain cleaners/chemical drain clog remover is preferable and potentially more safe. The flexible drain snake auger can maneuver around the p-trap and get to drain clogs farther down the drain pipe. If the clog is down your mainline and you do not have the appropriate tools and cleanout, please call a professional plumber or drain cleaning company to use heavy duty drain cleaning tools to clear the drain lines, which can be the cause of some sink clogs and why a sink snake may not have a long enough drain cleaning cable.

With a sink auger, you can eliminate clogs in your sink and even hair clogs in your bathtub drain (Its use does not extend to toilets, however, and you may need a water closet auger/toilet auger to deal with a clogged toilet.) A sink auger is known by other names, which include “canister auger”, or brand names such as Flexisnake Drain Weasel, Brasscraft, Ryobi, Ridgid and more , to types like a “drum auger”. That is because the largest part of the auger is the spinning drum canister, which helps in drain cleaning and removing drain clogs. These can be found at local home improvement retailers, as well as Amazon and other online sources.

There is a stubby handle that juts out of the spinning drum canister. Inside of the canister, there is a metal cable coil. On the other side of the canister, a longer, tapered auger bit sticks out. The auger bit is attached to one end of the cable coil. By turning the handle, you’ll be turning the drum, and the cable and auger bit as well, which is how you can attack the clog in your shower drain and tub drain.

How to Unclog a Sink with an Auger

How does it work? Just above the auger bit, there is a set screw. If you loosen the setscrew, then you can feed the auger cable down the drain (you’ll have to take out the sink’s stopper first). Then:

  1. Extend the cable until it hits against the clog.
  2. At this point, you can take out a foot more of cable before you tighten the setscrew.
  3. Now turn the handle steadily until you hit the clog again.
  4. Loosen the setscrew, take out more cable, then crank the handle again. Do this process as many times as it takes to work through the clog.
  5. If the standing water now starts to empty down the drain, turn on the hot water to rinse out the drain.

What happens if this process doesn’t work? If you sent the auger cable past the sink trap, then the clog may not be in the sink trap, but in the waste trap instead. In this case, you will need to:

  • Put a bucket under the sink trap to collect water.
  • Use a pipe wrench to unloose the slip-nuts at both ends
  • Take out the slip-nuts, and remove the trap, dumping its water over the pail.
  • You can now feed the auger cable into the trap. Loosen the setscrew.
  • Go through the same process of taking out 12 inches of cable, tightening the screw, then turning the handle.
  • Repeat until you can feel that the clog has disintegrated.
  • Put all pieces back and run the hot water to flush out the pieces of the clog.

Cleaning a Sink Auger After Use

Whichever way you eliminate the clog, you’ll need to take care of the auger itself before putting it back. You can hold it under running water, making sure that no debris stays on the tool. You can leave the auger out to dry, and ideally, you can also apply a spray (like WD-40) to take even better care of this plumbing tool. Don’t forget to replace the strainer in your sink when finished.

If you are still experiencing trouble with your sink drain or water flow, don’t hesitate to call A-1 Sewer & Septic Service Inc. to get Kansas City plumbers on the case. Our team can provide friendly service that is backed by decades of plumbing experience. Call today!