How to Use a Plumber’s Snake to Unblock the House Drain?

Plumber’s Snake

Are you a handyman or handywoman for that matter? Great, because you might know about Plumber’s snake or, in some quarters, what they call snake drain. If not, don’t fret. This post has everything and anything you may want to know about this handy tool. Specifically, it helps you to understand how to use a plumber’s snake.

Does that feel like the kind of information you require? Stay put and take the ride with us to the last syllable of this post. It is going to be a thrilling read.

What is a Plumber’s Snake?

Plumber Snake

A plumber’s snake is a long, supple metal cable with an uncoiled spring in one end and a handle on the other side. It is used to remove clogs that cause blockage in pipes and drains. In case your pipes are experiencing stubborn clogs that plunger cannot remove; the plumber’s snake is your solution.

Plumber’s Snake vs Drain Strainer

Drain Snake vs Drain Strainer

It is pretty possible to confuse a plumber’s snake with the drain strainer, especially for beginners. However, these two are different. While a drain strainer is a fundamental screen installed to allow only water to pass through a drain and trap larger items, a plumber’s snake removes clogs from the drains or pipes.

In a drainage system, plumbing traps are an essential component. They prevent foul air, insects and vermin from entering the building from the sewers, and resist the spread of illness. Find out more about it here – What is a Plumbing Trap and Its Ideal Requirements?

How Does the Plumber’s Snake Work?

Drain Unclogging with Plumber's Snake

Many of Plumber’s snakes are operated by hand. Usually they are 25 or 50 feet long. They work by entering directly into the drain to contact physically and clear away any obstruction causing the clog. What you need to do is inserting the auger end of the snake manually into the drain and then coil it by rotating the handle. As it uncoils, the auger penetrates farther in the drainpipe hence breaking through the obstruction.

How to Use the Plumber’s Snake

How to Use the Plumber’s Snake

Although using Plumber’s snake to remove clogs is an ABC thing, it can be a messy job depending on the nature of the clog. Before beginning the process, put on clothes you won’t care getting soiled. Also, place a towel on the pipes you’re working on, especially if you’re planning to remove the p-trap. Then, follow the basic steps below of using the handy tool. By the time you’ll be reading the last step, you’ll be a pro;

01. Remove the p-trap – Use your adjustable wrench to remove the p-trap. If you don’t have one, don’t worry; use your hands. Once you’re done, inspect and clean it thoroughly. In case you find any obstruction there, you don’t need to snake it. If you can’t find anything, use the Plumber’s snake to remove it. Since there would be no trap, the process will be much easier.

02. Remove the trap arm –To get closer to the drain; remove the trap arm, and look for any obstruction inside the drain pipe. If you can see any blockage, try to remove it from where you are. If it’s impossible, use your Plumber’s snake.

03. Put the head of the auger into the clogged pipe – If you have not removed the trap, put in the snake’s head into the drain and run cold water into it as you snake it. Don’t force the auger into the drain as this can damage the pipe or the drain entrance. Always ensure that the cable and the head are not longer than the drain you’re snaking.

04. Use the handle to uncoil the snake down the pipe – Keep the snake’s grip closer to the pipe’s entrance since the looser the cable is, the less effective it would be since you would be supplying less effort into it. At a consistent pace, rotate the handle; you shouldn’t turn it too slowly or try to rush it. If at any point you feel pressure as the cable moves through the pipe, know that you’ve come across the blockage.

05. Rotate the snake in a circular motion when you reach the obstruction and then up and down – After ensuring that you have reached the blockage, break it thoroughly. However, make sure you don’t jam the auger into the pipe’s walls. So, when you feel a scraping sound when snaking, stop it and re-adjust.

In case you feel that the auger has stuck in the obstruction, pull the snake out of the pipe; here, the blockage will come out with the snake. Continue snaking until you feel that there are no obstructions in the pipes. The snake should uncoil to its full length as an indication that there are no more obstructions.

06. Remove Plumber’s snake from the pipe by coiling the snake back up –Check the remains of the obstruction on the auger’s head and clean it. If you had removed the p-trap and the trap arm, put them back to their rightful positions.

07. Check whether the pipe is clear by running water in the sink – Now, check the clogged drain pipe which you’ve snaked whether it is clear by turning on the faucet and run water through. If not, try to repeat the process. However, too much snaking can harm the drains or the pipes. If a thorough snaking doesn’t work out, consider calling an expert.

Is there any alternative to the Plumber’s Snake?

Yes, there are chemical drain cleaners. They come in three different forms: liquids, powder, and gel form. Also, they come in 3 different types;

  • Caustic drain cleaners
  • Acidic drain cleaners
  • Oxidizing drain cleaners

Although they are easy to use, their cons outweigh the pros. Otherwise; this will be a story for another day.

Types and Prices of Plumber’s Snake

Plumber’s snake comes in different types and sizes depending on your needs and budget. So if you’ve already decided to get one from the market for your clogged pipes, worry less. Check the reviews below to help you get the newest industry-leading models that will best suit your budgets and needs.

01. MIBOW Drain Snake Cleaner

MIBOW Drain Snake Cleaner

This type of Plumber’s snake can stretch over 3 feet down the curved pipes. To use it, you’ve to hold the silicone handle and twist it. The burrs on the snake’s steel spring cable would latch onto the rolls of hair and any other material that might be blocking the pipe. Then you can pull up the clog and remove it from the snake. With only $8.99, you can get one from Amazon.

02. Liquid-Plumr Toilet Snake

Liquid-Plumr Toilet Snake

This type of Plumber’s snake is unique in that its spring coil is enclosed with a vinyl sleeve, which prevents your toilet’s porcelain from scratching as you snake around the bowl. It operates just like any other plumber’s snake. You only feed it manually down the pipe and then twist it in a circular motion. It would then grasp the clogged material, and allow you to pull it out of the pipe. In Amazon, you can get one at only $ 9.98.

03. Cobra Plumbing-Drain Auger

Cobra Plumbing-Drain Auger

If you’ve a deep-rooted clog, all you need is this type of plumber’s snake. It’s made of rustproof steel wire and has a length of over 50 feet to ensure that it can pull up obstacles deeply buried in a long pipe. So if you need to clear a backyard pipe, this snake drain is up to the task. The good news is that at $ 24.41, you can get one from Amazon.

Final Thoughts

Drain snaking is surprisingly an accessible and easy homeowner project. If you understand how to use your plumber’s snake correctly, your pipe clogs would be a forgone case. So, get one from the market to keep clogs in your pipes at bay.

Before you leave this intriguing blog, Gharpedia has written other exciting plumbing-related Articles. Read here, for more information –

Residential Plumbing System: All You Need to Know!
Tips for Choosing or Hiring the Right Plumbing Contractor
Most Useful Plumbing Tools for Plumbing Project and Repair
17 Plumbing Maintenance Tips for Your Home

(We earn a commission for the products purchased through some links in this article)

Author Bio

Fidelis Kinai – Fidelis Muti possess a bachelor’s in English and Journalism and have over four years of professional experienced writing and proofreading materials for print and online platforms, including newspapers, magazines, websites, blogs, and social media accounts. He also have over three years of experience as a marketing assistant and social media manager.

He is versatile and diligent and will produce exemplary content within time to meet your deadline.

He can deliver most work within 2-3 days; rush orders are accepted whenever possible. He is based in the Kenya but travel often and work for clients all over the world.

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