Perhaps one of the most useful skills to have, knowing how to snake a drain is the knowledge that pays dividends over time. While you can probably clean a trap or grab a plunger first, these methods aren’t effective for every type of clog. If they don’t work, you’re next best option is to use a plumber’s snake, or drain auger. Snaking a drain can clear things up quickly, with a little practice. Here is a quick guide on how to snake a drain.

How to Snake a Drain

Obtain a Plumber’s Snake

A drain auger is a useful tool to have around the house. You can find one at a home improvement store. The options range from smaller manual models made of plastic to longer, sturdier metal coils. High-end electric models are available as well. Owning an auger can avoid spending money on a plumber, but you also have the option of renting one from a local home improvement store.

Insert the Snake into the Drain Opening

You should have a pair of rubber gloves and goggles on. If you used a chemical drain cleaner, it can very well spew up and irritate your skin and eyes. Also, have a bucket handy to capture any water or waste. Then start inserting the snake into the drain slowly while turning the handle that controls the coiled-up tool. When cranking the handle, you may need to apply pressure; there’s a curve in the trap under the sink as well as under a toilet. Continue until you feel some resistance.

Rotate the Snake Against the Blockage

There might be some resistance as the coil passes the curve in the pipe. But it should keep going. You should feel the blockage when the auger reaches it. Continue rotating the handle until the snake grabs onto the clog; it will either break it up or push it away. However, if the object entangles with the auger head, it will come out with the coil.

Remove the Snake from the Drain

Once the coil is at its full length and you can feed it anymore, turn the handle in the opposite direction. The snake will then wind its way back out of the drain. You might see the clog at the end of it. The debris may be a solid chunk or have broken up into pieces. If the debris is present, wipe it away with a towel and dump it into a bucket. Run the faucet or flush the toilet to see if the water drains properly. If not, repeat the entire process over again.

How to Use a Drain Auger Properly

The plumber’s snake is deceptively simple. However, you must know the correct way to use it to achieve the desired results. First, remove any hair trap or tub screen present. When inserting the snake, push it along slowly while turning the handle clockwise. Grab the handle with two hands if the tool is hard to push. Once you hit any debris, pull back slightly to feel if there’s extra weight on the auger, then continue prodding the material to break it up, until you can push through to the other end.

When drawing the snake out, rotate the handle counterclockwise and be careful as to not lose the clog. Run the water for a few minutes to flush away any remaining material. Run hot water in a sink, unless it’s the garbage disposal (in which case use cold water), or pour a kettle of hot water down a shower drain. If you’re still having drain trouble, you can use a homemade remedy, but it’s best to call a professional plumber.

Contact Express Plumbing Heating & Air

Serving the entire Boise area and Treasure Valley, we provide drain cleaning services to quickly resolve your plumbing issues. If necessary, we can perform sewer and drain camera inspection to identify stubborn pipe blockages, decay, and even tree root intrusion. Contact us to learn more about our services, protection plans, specials, and financing.

Brad Jordan

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