How to Use a Drain Snake to Solve Your Plumbing Woes

Jul 1, 2023 | Blog

Clogged drains can be a real nuisance, particularly when you’re unable to unclog them using the regular methods. Using a drain snake can help you get to the root of the problem and save yourself the cost of hiring a plumber. However, using a drain snake is not as straightforward as it may initially seem. In this blog post, we will take you through a step-by-step guide on how to use a drain snake to solve your plumbing woes.

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What is a Drain Snake?

Clogged drains can be a nuisance, and it’s something homeowners and renters alike want to avoid. One of the most common ways to get rid of blockages is by using a drain snake. If you’ve never used one or have limited knowledge about this tool, read on to learn more about what it is and how it works.


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A drain snake, also known as a plumbing snake or auger, is a flexible metal cable with a coiled spring on the end. It comes in various lengths, determined by the size of the drain it’s meant to clear. When unclogging a drain, you insert the cable into the pipe and turn the handle, which rotates the coil. This movement helps break up and remove any objects obstructing the flow of water.

The type of drain snake you use depends on the nature of the clog. For example, an electric auger may be needed for tougher blockages. This equipment uses electricity to spin the coil faster, providing extra power to clear out more stubborn clogs. You can purchase drain snakes in most home improvement stores or online hardware outlets.

Simple clogs can often be removed with a plunger, but when that doesn’t work, a drain snake can do the job. Common culprits include hair, soap scum, minerals, grease, and food particles that accumulate over time and obstruct drainpipes. The snake is especially useful in unclogging sink, shower, and bathtub drainpipes, which can be difficult to access and clean.

Using a drain snake correctly is key to avoiding further plumbing damage. If not used properly, the force of the coil can damage pipes, especially older or delicate ones. Always make sure to read the instructions carefully, and if in doubt, consider calling a professional plumber to do the job.

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The Different Types of Drain Snakes You Need to Know About

Clogged drains can be a real headache, and if you don’t have a drain snake, you might have to spend a lot of money on a plumber. A drain snake is an incredibly effective and cost-efficient way to remove clogs from your pipes. However, with so many types of drain snakes available in the market, it can be hard to choose the right one.

Manual Drain Snakes

A manual drain snake, can also be known as a drain auger, is a simple, handheld tool that is perfect for minor clogs. They’re made up of a flexible steel cable with a handle and come in sizes from 25 feet to 100 feet. When you insert the cable into the clogged drain and turn the handle clockwise, it wraps around any obstructions and pulls it out.

Closet Augers

Closet augers, also known as a toilet snake or a toilet auger, are used for a clogged toilet. These drain snakes have a shorter cable that’s more rigid than those of manual drain snakes. It’s designed specifically to navigate the twists and turns of a toilet’s p trap. Keep your toilet bowl clean making sure you only flush waste and toilet paper.

Electric Drain Snakes

Electric drain snakes are a bit more advanced than manual drain snakes. These drain snakes feature a motor that rotates the cable, making them perfect for more significant and tougher clogs. Additionally, they’re available in different sizes, lengths, and power options.

Sectional Drain Snakes

Sectional drain snakes come in different sections. For instance, the snake cable in one kit might be 50 feet long, but it’ll come in ten sections of five feet. The cable can be joined together, increasing the length of the drain snake to suit your needs.

Drum Drain Snakes

Drum drain snakes are the largest and most powerful type of drain snake available. They’re commonly used for cleaning sewer lines or lines with significant blockages. You can move them manually or using an electric motor.

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How To Use A Drain Snake

Gather the Necessary Materials

The first step to using a drain snake is to gather all the things you’ll need. A plastic bucket, rubber gloves, a drain snake, and a flashlight are the essential materials you need. Turn off the water supply before you start and wear gloves as this process can become messy.

Inspect the Drain

Before inserting the snake into the drain, take a flashlight and inspect the drain. This will give you an idea of the root cause of the clog, whether it is hair, grease, or a foreign object, and the location of the clog. Once you have your assessment, you can get to work.

Insert the Drain Snake

Insert the drain snake into the drain, pushing it gently but firmly until you feel resistance. The resistance is the sign that you have reached the clog. Keep twisting the snake to break up the clog. However, be careful not to push too hard to prevent damage to your plumbing.

Remove the Clog

After you have broken up the clog, you can now remove it. Pull gently but steadily on the snake until it comes out. It is important to note that some clogs, particularly those caused by grease may require multiple passes to remove entirely. Keep repeating the process until the drain is free from clogs.

Test the Drain

After removing the drain clogs, turn the water on to test the drain’s functionality. If the water is flowing freely, you have successfully unclogged your drain. However, if the water is still sluggish going down the drain opening, it may be an indication that you have not removed the clog entirely. Some clogged drains need a professional plumbing snake.

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How to Keep Your Drains Flowing: Tips to Prevent Drain Clogs

Clogged drains are a common plumbing problem that can be a major headache to homeowners. They can cause water backing up in sinks, tubs, and showers, and even lead to sewage backups. Plus, the expense of having a plumber come to your rescue can be steep. However, the good news is that there are simple steps you can take prevent your drains from clogging.

Use a Drain Cover

A drain cover can be a helpful tool in preventing clogs in your sink drain, shower drain, and bathtub drain. It can help to catch hair, soap, and other things that can block your pipes. These covers are inexpensive and can usually be found at your local home improvement store.

Keep Food Scraps Out of the Kitchen Sink

Your kitchen sink is prime real estate for a clogged drain. To prevent this from happening, it’s important to keep food scraps out of the sink. Invest in a good quality garbage disposal or compost bin. Don’t put large pieces of food or grease down the drain, as they can easily get stuck in your pipes.

Pour Boiling Water Down the Drain

Once a week, pour a pot of boiling water down the drain. This can help to remove any accumulated gunk and debris in your pipes and will prevent buildup, which can clog your drain. Be careful to avoid pouring boiling water down PVC pipes, as it can soften and damage them.

Use a Natural Pipe Cleaner

Chemical drain cleaners can be harsh and damage your pipes. Instead, try a natural pipe cleaner. Baking soda and vinegar is a popular and effective option. Pour 1/2 cup of baking soda down the drain followed by 1/2 cup of vinegar. Let the mixture sit for 10-15 minutes, then pour boiling water down the drain. This homemade concoction can help remove buildup and deodorize your drain.

Seek Professional Help

Sometimes, despite your best efforts, a clogged drain may happen. A slow-moving drain can be a warning sign. If this is the case, it’s time to call a plumber. A professional can help assess the cause of the clog and clear it safely and effectively.

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Do You Need Professional Plumbers?

Being a homeowner comes with its fair share of joys and challenges. From picking out paint colors to unexpected emergencies like a clogged drain, it can feel overwhelming at times. While it may be tempting to try and tackle the clogged drain yourself, a professional plumber can save you time, money, and frustration. At MD Sewer and Plumbing, we have the expertise and tools needed to quickly and efficiently unclog drains of all kinds. Whether it’s a sink, toilet, or shower drain, leave it to the professionals and reach out to us for help. We are dedicated to providing top-notch service and getting your plumbing back to functioning properly.

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Conclusion

In conclusion, using a drain snake is an effective method for unclogging a drain. By following the steps outlined in this blog post, you can save yourself the cost of hiring a professional plumber and solve your plumbing woes easily. Remember always to gather the necessary materials, inspect the drain, insert the snake, remove the clog, and test the drain’s functionality. If you’re hesitant about using a drain snake, it is always best to leave the job to a professional plumber.

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