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Using a Plumbing Snake: When, How, and Why

First things first: drain snakes aren’t actual snakes. If you’re here for adorable legless reptiles, we can’t help you. If you’re here for assistance in making the most of a useful and versatile plumbing tool, we have you covered.

A drain snake, also referred to as a drain auger or plumbing snake, is a long flexible metal cable with a cone-shaped rotating bit on the end. They’re used by DIY and professional plumbers alike to reach down into pipes to remove clogs and blockages. They’re the next step when plungers don’t work because they have the flexibility to easily move through twists and turns inside pipe structures.

If you’ve ever wanted to know more about when, why, and how to use a plumbing snake, you’re in the right place.

How do you use a plumbing snake?

  1. Before you do any work, spread out some old towels or other linens out on the floor around the clog. Anything you don’t mind getting dirty or wet. Since you’re using the auger to pull out a clog, which is likely going to be kind of gross, you want to make sure that mess doesn’t get on your floor. In that same vein, put on a pair of sturdy work gloves (the coils of an auger can rip latex or rubber ones) to assist and protect you during the process.
  2. Take the auger (cone-shaped) end of the snake and put it into the drain. Feed it in, turning it as you push. Push and twist, push and twist.
  3. When you hit the blockage, you’ll feel it. You won’t be able to push your cable through anymore and you’ll feel it back up when you try. Crank the cable a bit more now, until you feel a resistance to your turning.
  4. Now it’s time to pull the cable back out. Your previous turning will have latched the auger onto the clog and now you just have to slowly and gently pull it back out.
  5. You can repeat this process more than once if you think there is more than one clog.
  6. After you’ve pulled out the obstruction, run some water down the drain to clear out any loosened material.
  7. Pat yourself on the back. You just successfully snaked a drain. Make sure to clean your plumbing snake before putting it away to be used next time.

When is it the right time to use a plumbing snake?

Plumbing snakes are for clogs that couldn’t be removed with a traditional plunger. They’re a middle ground between just plunging and having to call in for a professional drain cleaning. They’re especially useful for clearing pipes that have a lot of curves like the one found under your sink or behind your toilet.

Why should you know how to use a plumbing snake?

Because clogs happen, and sometimes those clogs aren’t easy to clear. While it’s always a good idea to call the professionals when you’re struggling with your home plumbing, there’s nothing wrong with having some basic DIY plumbing knowledge. Speaking of basic plumbing knowledge, don’t forget the basics when it comes to preventing clogs in the first place! Don’t dump solids down the drain, use drain screens to keep stray hairs from clumping up in your shower, and invest in regular professional drain cleanings.

When it comes to professional drain cleanings, no one can serve you better than the pros at Ben Franklin Plumbing in Dallas.