A drain auger, also known as a “plumbing snake,” is one of the most useful tools in any plumber’s arsenal. Snakes are used to clear away the heavy-duty clogs when plungers won’t cut it.
Snakes are a very effective means of clearing out even the toughest pipe clogs, but they’re a little harder to use than home plumbing tools. They’re also a little riskier. If you snake a drain improperly, not only will you fail to remove the clog effectively, but you might also damage your pipes. To avoid that, we’ll teach how and when to use a plumbing snake properly. Here’s everything you need to know snake your drains safely:
What is a plumbing snake?
A drain auger, or plumbing snake, is a tool inserted directly into drains and pipes to remove blockages directly. It consists of a long, flexible metal cable with a crank on one end and an auger on the other (an auger is a hard spring with a pointed tip).
To operate a plumbing snake, uncoil the metal cable and insert the auger into the drain directly. Thread or rotate the crank to move the auger further into the drain until it reaches the blockage. When your snake reaches the blockage, use the crank to rotate the auger. The auger should break up the clog, allowing water to flow normally once more.
When should I use a plumbing snake?
Plumbing snakes are for clogs that are too stubborn for plunging, but not big enough to require hydro-jetting. Snakes require more skill to use than more entry level at-home drain clearing agents, so you should only use one if you’ve done your research. This blog is a good start!
How do I snake a sink drain?
Before you use a snake, make sure to lay down towels around the base of the sink. Depending on how severe the clog is, things can get messy. After that, you can begin. Follow each of the following steps in order:
- Manually thread your auger head into the drain. Gently feed it into the drain. Don’t force it or you’ll end up damaging the pipe.
- Use the handle to uncoil the snake. Keep the handle close to the mouth of the drain. You want your auger to have slack so you can’t accidentally force it somewhere you don’t want it to go… like through a pipe wall. Rotate the crank slowly and steadily.
- Reach the obstruction. When you’ve reached the obstruction, you’ll know because your auger will stop moving forward. Rotate the crank back and forth while working the auger up and down with the crank to break up the clog. It might take a while, but if you’re consistent with the movements, the auger tip will do the job.
- Crank it back up slowly. You’ll know if you got the obstruction based on what’s attached to the end of the auger. You might need to repeat the previously listed steps a few times. Once you’re done, flush the drain with hot water to remove any leftover debris. You’ll know you were successful if the drain works properly!
Using a plumbing snake is a good first step for someone trying to attempt more do-it-yourself plumbing projects. As long as you use it carefully and take your time, an auger or drain snake will be immensely useful.
That said, not all clogs are the same. Sometimes you’ll require a professional. When that happens, you can call the team at Ben Franklin Plumbing. We have the tools, techniques, and know-how to clear any clog–even the most stubborn ones.