A drain auger or plumber’s snake is a plumbing tool used to remove clogs that cause blockage within drain pipes.
Snakes are ideal for unclogging drains, especially when dealing with stubborn clogs that can’t seem to be removed by a plunger. Thus, if you have tried a plunger and it fails to solve the problem, your next bet should be a snake.
Snakes are more effective than plungers. However, they’re more challenging to use. For instance, using a snake improperly can damage the pipes and lead to major leaks.
You can avoid such problems by learning how to snake your drain the right way. Here’s what you need to know about snaking a drain.
How do snakes work?
Basically, a drain snake or auger is a flexible and long metallic cable with an uncoiled spring or small auger attached on the end that gets into the drain pipe. The other end of the cable has a handle.
The auger comes with the design of a corkscrew or drill bit. Plumber’s snakes used for domestic purposes measure approximately 50 feet in length.
The snake is usually coiled up when not in use. Most snakes used at home come with a manual, hand-operated crank or handle.
The snake works by getting into contact with the clog upon insertion into a drainpipe, thereby clearing the clog. The end with the auger is what you’ll insert into the clogged drain pipe.
You can insert the snake manually into a drain pipe and rotate the crank or handle to uncoil the snake. As it uncoils, the snake moves deeper into the drain until the auger penetrates through the clog and breaks it up.
Steps to Follow When Using a Drain Snake
Wear some clothes that are meant for doing dirty work. Lay some rags or old towels below the drain pipe you’re unclogging.
The snaking process might get messy for some clogs, especially when you’re forced to remove a sink p-trap.
Removing the p-bend or p-trap may be optional. The p-bend or p-trap is a curved component of a drain system that is found below the sink. The role of this component is to connect the sink drain to the main drain pipe.
It’s usually curved with the aim of preventing sewer smells from going up through the drain into your home. It’s usually made of plastic, but some may be metallic.
The sink p-trap can be removed manually by hands or using an adjustable pipe wrench. Inspect it carefully after removing it. Then clean it thoroughly.
If there are any obstructions, remove them. Doing so might eliminate the problem and save you from snaking the drain. Even when you fail to find anything in the trap, removing it will make the entire snaking work easier.
You can also remove the drain trap arm. However, this is optional. The drain trap arm refers to the pipe section between the main drain pipe passing through the wall and the sink p-trap.
The arm keeps the trap well-positioned in place. It may curve through the wall as it connects to the main drain pipe. You can remove the arm by loosening the metallic or plastic nut that connects it onto the wall.
In case the arm doesn’t have a nut, then it might be held in place with glue. If it’s glued onto the wall, don’t remove it. Clean the arm thoroughly to get rid of any clogs.
If it’s possible to remove the sink trap arm, then you’ll be closer to the main drain pipe. Try to look through the drain for obstructions.
In case you spot an obstruction, you can try to pull it out with a hanger wire. If you’re unable to remove it, then it’s time to use a snake.
Thread the head of your snake through the drain pipe. In case you never removed the trap, then run some cold water through the drain while snaking.
Avoid forcing the auger through the drain. Forcing it too hard may damage the pipe. Also, observe patience and ensure the auger and snake cable are not too lengthy for your drain pipe.
Start uncoiling the drain snake by rotating the handle. Ensure the handle goes as close as possible to the pipe entrance. If the auger has more slack, then you’ll supply less force.
Keep rotating the handle. The pace at which you rotate it should be consistent. Avoid rotating it too slowly or too quickly. In case you feel some resistance while snaking, then you might have reached the clog.
Upon getting to the clog, rotate the auger through the obstruction. Clear the clog thoroughly by breaking it up.
However, don’t jam the snake auger onto the pipe walls. In case of any scraping noises, stop working the snake until you re-adjust it.
In case you feel that the auger is stuck within the clog, pull out the snake from the pipe. The snake might pull out the stuck clog from the drainpipe. Work the snake until there’s no more resistance or when the drain snake uncoils fully.
Pull out the snake. Then re-assemble all the sink drain components you had removed. Clean the auger of any clog remains.
By now, the snake may have removed the clog successful. Check whether the sink is draining smoothly to know whether you’ve unclogged the drain.
In case the problem is yet to be solved, try snaking again. If the second round of snaking fails, then consider contacting professional plumbers.
Snaking is an easy DIY project that any homeowner can try. All you need to do is to know how you’ll use the snake properly to avoid creating new problems.
However, DIY snaking may not remove extremely stubborn clogs. If you’ve snaked your drain and the clog doesn’t clear, simply contact us for effective unclogging services.
We have all the required expertise and tools to trace and clear clogs regardless of how stubborn they might be. For more information, visit our blocked drains service page.