What Is A Plumbing Snake?

Jul 1, 2022 | Plumbing

If you’re like most homeowners, you may not know what a plumbing snake is. A plumbing snake, also known as a drain auger, is a tool used to clear solid clogs and blockages in drains and pipes.

In this article, we’ll discuss everything you need to know about plumbing snakes, including how they work and when to use them. We’ll also give you a few tips on how to clear a clogged drain without a plumbing snake.

How A Drain Snake Works

A plumber using a drain snake in a bath tub

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Contrary to popular belief, they are not actually snakes! Though they may look like it, plumbing snakes are long metal cables with a spiral corkscrew on the end that can be inserted into clogged drains to break up the obstruction and clear the way.

The cable is fed through the drain until it reaches the blockage. Once the snake encounters the mass in the drain system, the operator will use a handle to twist the cable and break up the clog with the drain snake head.

Where Can You Use A Drain Snake?

There are several places where you can use a drain snake. The most common places are the kitchen sink, bathroom sink, bathtub, and shower drains.

When Should You Use A Drain Snake?

A man using a plunger on his toilet

If you have a slow-draining or clogged drain, chances are you can use a drain snake to clear it. Plumbing snakes are most effective on clogs that are located further down the drain line, as they can reach blockages that hand augers or plungers cannot. Additionally, if you have hair clogs or toilet clogs that won’t budge with a plunger, a drain snake may be able to clear them.

How Do You Use A Drain Snake?

A person using a drain snake

Now that we know what a drain snake is and when to use one let’s talk about how to use one. First, you’ll want to remove the cover of the drain so you can insert the snake into the pipe. Next, feed the cable down the drain until you feel resistance, which is likely the clog.

Once you’ve located the clog, begin twisting the handle to break up the obstruction with the drain snake head. Continue twisting and pushing until the clog begins to break up, and you can feel water draining through. Finally, remove the cable from the drain and flush it with hot water to clear any remaining debris.

If you don’t feel comfortable using a drain snake, or if the clog is located further down the line, it’s always best to call a professional plumber.

The Best Drain Snakes You Can Buy

A plumber using a drain snake

Depending on the type of clog you’re dealing with, there are different types of drain snakes you can use. These plumbing tools are divided into two categories: manual and powered. Below, we discuss the differences between the two to help you decide the best drain snake for your needs.

Manual Drain Snakes

A manual drain snake is a simple, hand-operated auger that is best for minor clogs located close to the drain opening. These are typically less than 25 feet long. Manually operated drain snakes are readily available at most home improvement shops.

They usually have a small hand crank to advance or retract the cable, and they can be one of the most efficient ways to clear little clogs in your toilet, tub, kitchen sink, or bathroom sink. The disadvantage of this kind of drain snake is that the user must manually turn the hand crank and rotate the drain snake, which might be tiresome if you are working for an extended time.

Powered Or Heavy Duty Drain Snakes

A powered drain snake is a motorized auger that is fed into the drain to clear blockages. These are best for tough clogs located further down the drain line, as they can reach blockages that manual augers cannot. Powered drain snakes are typically operated by a foot pedal or trigger, which makes them easier to use than manual augers.

Additionally, powered drain snakes have much more torque than manual augers, so they can break up tougher clogs. The only downside to using a powered drain snake is that they can be expensive, and you may need to rent one from a home improvement store or plumber.

Now that we’ve gone over the basics of drain snakes, you should have a better understanding of what they are and how to use them. If you’re dealing with a clog, don’t hesitate to give one a try. And, as always, if the clog is located further down the drain line or is proving to be difficult, it’s best to call a professional plumber.

Need A Professional Plumber In Maryland? Contact Us!

If you’re looking for a professional plumber in Maryland, look no further than Maryland Sewer and Plumbing Services. We have been providing quality plumbing services to the Maryland area for over 35 years. Contact us today to request a quote!


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