Why Isn’t My Plumber Snake Working?

A plumber snake is a great tool for clearing drain clogs… if it’s working properly. If your snake isn’t unclogging your drains it could be because the thumbscrew is loose, the clog is too severe, or the auger is dirty, for example.

A drain snake (also known as an auger) is a simple, inexpensive necessity for every homeowner. But a broken or faulty auger can be extremely frustrating. That’s why it’s important to get your drain snake back in working order… and here’s how.

What is a plumbing snake?

A plumbing snake, drain snake, toilet jack, or auger is a slender device used to dislodge clogs in drains. It is commonly used when a clog can’t be loosened with a plunger.

Why isn’t my plumber snake working?

There are several reasons why your plumber snake may not work properly. If your auger isn’t unclogging a clog, it could be because:

  • The old clog is still attached. Are you using a drain snake that has been used before? Make sure the old clog isn’t embedded in the corkscrew end. Clean your drain snake before using it! 
  • The thumbscrew is loose. You need to make sure that you’ve securely tightened thumbscrew(the piece that secures the cable inside the drum or handle). If the thumbscrew is loose, the cable will not rotate at all when you twist the handle.  The cable rotation is how  the drain snake  picks up debris, so if it can’t do this, your auger won’t work. 
  • The clog is too severe. There are some clogs that are too dense for a hand drain snake. If this is the case, you’ll either have to rent a power auger or get a professional plumber’s help.
  • It’s the wrong type of drain snake. Toilet auger, small drum auger, and an extra-auger are the most common types of drain snakes. So, what kind of auger should you be using anyway?

What kind of plumbing snakes are there?

There are several different types of drain snakes, including:

  • Toilet Auger. This is a special auger with a long rod and short cable. It will not scratch porcelain surfaces. It is important not to use any other type of auger with your toilet. 
  • Small Drum Auger. This is the snake you would use for most routine kitchen or bathroom sink clogs. 
  • Extra Long Drain Auger. This is the type of plumbing snake you would use for clogs deeply embedded down the length of your drain or pipes.

What should I do if snaking my drain isn’t working? 

If your plumber snake isn’t clearing the clog properly, try: 

  1. Cleaning the drain snake. If you haven’t cleaned it since using it last, the old clog may still be embedded on the corkscrew end. You must clean this end for it to be effective. 
  2. Tightening the thumbscrew. To feed the wire into the drain, tighten the thumbscrew that locks the wire in place. Then, turn the handle of the auger clockwise and push to get the wire into the drain. Loosen the thumbscrew and slide the handle back up the wire. This needs to be repeated, tightening the thumbscrew, turning the handle, and pushing to clear the clog. 
  3. Using a different type of auger. If you’re auger isn’t doing the trick, then it may be time to look into using a different kind. Snaking a toilet? Use a toilet auger. Snaking a bathroom sink? Use a small drum auger.

If you’ve tried troubleshooting and your plumber snake is still not making the cut, it may be time to get in touch with a professional plumber. It’s crucial not to ignore a clogged drain. It could result in leaky, or even a burst, pipe. This could flood and damage your home. 

If you need help with a clogged drain, get in touch with the team at Benjamin Franklin! We can help keep your drains working their best!