clearing a clogged drain with a plumbing snake

A Step-by-Step Guide on How to Use a Plumbing Snake to Unclog Drains


Table of Contents

No more blocked drains – it’s time to use a plumbing snake and take care of the problem yourself! This effective tool allows you to tackle clogs without having to call in professional help.

Here is how: we’ll show you how easy it can be, with our guide on using a plumbing snake for smooth water flow again. No longer will shower-time become disrupted due to an unwelcome blockage, now your hero status awaits!

Short Summary

  • Understand the purpose and types of plumbing snakes.
  • Prepare for the task by gathering necessary materials, taking safety precautions, and wearing appropriate clothing.
  • Use a plumbing snake to locate and remove blockages from drains, then test & maintain pipes for future clogs.

Understanding Plumbing Snakes

A plumbing snake, otherwise known as a drain auger or drain snake, is an elongated metal cable having at one end a cone-shaped auger. This tool was devised to unclog sinks, showers and tubs from soft obstacles in the line where water flows out for up to 25 feet down.

Though unable to gather larger objects or break through blockages located inside drainage pipes, this apparatus remains invaluable when plungers are no longer effective against clearing troublesome clogs.

Types of Plumbing Snakes

Plumbing snakes come in many shapes and sizes, each designed for a particular purpose.

Commonly used to clear clogged drains or pipes, the standard snake can be coupled with an electric drill when extra force is needed to unblock more stubborn obstructions.

Specialized plumbing tools called toilet augers are suitable for toilets as they do not damage the porcelain coating while clearing out any blockages.

This type of auger involves inserting a long metal tube attached with cable into the toilet drain, which then turns around inside it until it breaks up what has caused the obstruction.

When to Use a Plumbing Snake

If a plunger is not successful in removing an obstruction deep within the plumbing system, then using a snake will be more effective. This device can also handle break up soft items such as hair and soap scum from clogging your drain.

Using this tool instead of calling out professional plumbers could save you both time and money when used correctly for what it was intended to do. Unclog blocked drains with obstructions that cannot be cleared by ordinary plungers.

Preparing for the Task

Before attempting to unblock the drain, make sure you have all of the required tools and safety measures in place.

Grab a snake or an auger depending on what is causing the obstruction. Wear clothing that won’t be affected if it gets dirty and keep some old towels close by for under your pipes as well.

It’s highly recommended to prepare everything ahead so no difficulties arise when dealing with this kind of task. Have nearby both a toilet-type auger along with a regular long drain snake just in case things don’t go quite according to plan!

Gather Materials

To make the task of using a plumbing snake or closet auger more manageable, you should also have some essential supplies like gloves and glasses as well as any necessary tools for taking out P-traps and trap arms.

Safety Precautions

For maximum protection, leather gloves and eye wear should be worn when working with plumbing equipment. The snake should never exceed three feet from the drain mouth for optimum results.

Don’t ever employ a plumbing snake to fix up blocked toilets as it could potentially lead to damage. Safety is essential in all activities related to pipes repairs and maintenance tasks!

Navigating the Drainage System

To be able to gain access and take out the blockage, it’s essential to know about the drainage system as well as how best to explore it. This may include taking away P-traps (a U-shaped pipe bend), along with trap arms which lie between a p trap and also a wall pipe.

Removing P-Traps and Trap Arms

Start by taking out the P-trap. Use a rag to grip the plastic nuts and loosen them up, then let go of it so that all water collected will pour into a container until full.

Afterward, detach the trap arm as well in order for snaking drains to be easier while skipping complex turns within piping. You should also clean off any residue before putting everything back together again.

Locating the Clog

After the P-trap and trap arm have been removed, it’s time to uncover any clogs that are causing a blockage. Use a flashlight if you need more visibility as you search through all of your drains and pipes for signs of an obstruction.

Once located, take out your plumbing snake and start carefully navigating into the affected drain in order not to damage it further. Remember to go slowly so that everything can be dealt with properly without issues arising due to negligence or inexperience!

Using the Plumbing Snake

Now that the clog has been identified and your drain is ready, it’s time to use a plumbing snake. Insert its head into either the pipe or access point on the wall, then start slowly turning the handle so as to thrust forward along with cable in tow.

As you steer this serpentine tool through pipes, sooner or later you’ll stumble upon any hindrance blocking up your system.

Inserting the Snake

First, loosen the thumbscrew on the snake’s drum by turning it counterclockwise. After that, insert its cable into the drain and manually extend it through until there is some resistance met.

To help with this movement process. Pour cold water over while snaking so as to aid in passing down along the pipe of your drain system.

Clearing the Blockage

When the snake has reached the clog, it is time to break up the obstruction. To do so, twist and turn the tool counter-clockwise until you have successfully dislodged any blockage in your drain.

Once everything seems clear again, it’s finally possible to remove the snake from your system without worrying about a recurrence of buildup or clogs.

Retrieving the Snake

Using a retrieval tip crafted by yourself, or your hands, you can safely remove the plumbing snake from its location inside the drain. Take care to grab and move the cable in such a way that it will not cause any harm to pipes.

With this tool at hand, simply catch onto the coil itself until it is able to be carefully pulled out with no problem. Damage caused.

Testing and Maintenance

Once the plumbing snake has been effectively used to eliminate the obstruction, it’s important to reassemble the pipe and check water flow for proof that any blockage is gone.

Maintaining standard practices in testing and upkeep can guarantee your pipes remain in optimum condition while preventing future clogs from occurring.

Reassembling the Pipe

Begin by cleaning the cable and clearing away any rubbish from the snake’s end before reattaching it to its drum. Subsequently, inspect the pipe carefully, putting back together anything that had been taken apart like for instance, the P-trap or trap arm.

Checking Water Flow

Once the pipe is together again, it’s time to assess its water flow. Open up a slight stream and check for any remaining blocks which could be hindering movement. As an extra precaution measure, let this trickle of liquid run by your snake cable for at least a minute or two.

If everything flows around it normally, then you have successfully cleared out the clog!

Cleaning and Storing the Plumbing Snake

After using your plumbing snake, it is crucial to clean and store it correctly for optimal results. Begin by submerging the snake in warm water mixed with antibacterial soap, then use a brush to scrub off any dirt or debris that has collected on its surface.

Rinse thoroughly before drying completely. Once done, you can wind up the apparatus and preserve it in a dry place until next time. By taking proper care of your plumbing tool in this way, you will be ready to tackle future issues without delay!

Preventing Future Clogs

Maintaining and caring for your pipes is essential in avoiding future clogs. To ensure everything keeps running smoothly, make sure to clean the plumbing snake after each use according to these guidelines.

By doing so, you can prevent any future problems. Blockages from forming in your drain or other pipework.

Proper Drain Care

Keeping drains clean is an important task that should be done regularly and can easily be avoided by not disposing of any items likely to form clogs. In the kitchen, it’s best to refrain from pouring greases or oils as well as food into them.

In a bathroom, make sure you brush out hair at all times in the shower strainer and only ever flush toilet paper down toilets, nothing else!

Regular Maintenance

Taking care of your drain is essential to avoid clogs in the future, and regular maintenance as well.

Scheduling professional inspections for sewer lines or septic tanks should be done periodically. Inspect all pipes, faucets, and fixtures for any possible leaks.

While using a garbage disposal, it’s important not to put fibrous materials which could cause blockages. Don’t forget that cleaning showerheads along with shut-off valves inspection has an immense importance on proper functioning from them both too.

Here are some ways you can maintain and prevent potential draining issues:

Drain TypeMaintenance RecommendationsTips & Tricks
Kitchen Sink1. Avoid pouring grease or oil down the drain. 2. Use a sink strainer to catch food particles. 3. Run hot water down the drain after each use. 4. Use a natural drain cleaner like baking soda and vinegar monthly.Pour a half cup of baking soda followed by a half cup of vinegar into the drain, wait 15-20 minutes, then rinse with hot water.
Bathroom Sink1. Regularly clean pop-up stoppers. 2. Use a hair catcher in the drain. 3. Run hot water down the drain after each use. 4. Use a natural drain cleaner like baking soda and vinegar monthly.Keep a plunger handy to deal with minor clogs.
Shower/Bathtub1. Use a hair catcher in the drain. 2. Clean the drain and stopper regularly. 3. Run hot water down the drain after each use. 4. Use a natural drain cleaner like baking soda and vinegar monthly.Avoid using bath oils as they can stick to pipes.
Toilet1. Only flush toilet paper and waste – no other products. 2. Keep a plunger handy to deal with minor clogs. 3. If clogs become frequent, it may indicate a larger problem requiring professional attention.Consider a toilet snake for tougher clogs.
Floor Drains1. Test the drain occasionally by pouring a gallon of water into it to ensure it’s not clogged. 2. If it doesn’t drain properly, consider using a plunger or snake, or call a professional.Avoid storing items near floor drains to avoid blockage.
Outdoor Drains1. Remove leaves and debris from drain covers. 2. Flush the drain with a garden hose regularly. 3. If clogged, try using a plumbing snake or a high pressure hose.Be mindful of potential impacts on local ecosystems.

Remind yourself to call in professional plumbers like Chambliss Plumbing Company, if any problems persist, or if unsure how best to address an issue that occurs. Regular professional inspections may help maintain your plumbing system’s health as well.


By learning to use and equip yourself with an adequate plumbing snake, you can effectively clear away clogs in your drains. Regular pipe and drain maintenance help avoid blockages from occurring again – saving money by eliminating calls-out costs for emergency plumbers.

Next time there’s an obstruction in one’s drainage system consider becoming their hero by whipping out that trusted old plumbing snake!

Frequently Asked Questions

Do plumbing snakes work better than plunger clogged toilet?

Snakes are the go-to solution for unclogging toilets because they’re more reliable in eliminating stubborn blockages and less likely to cause harm compared to using a plunger.

Although plungers can be used as an alternative, snakes offer greater efficiency when it comes to plumbing problems, making them far superior over their counterparts.

Improper use of a plunger may end up causing damage to your toilet system, which is why drains tend towards the safer snake option instead.

Is it hard to use a plumbing snake?

Using a plumbing snake is relatively straightforward, and most people can accomplish it with minimal experience.

Although it may take some time, anyone with basic plumbing knowledge should be able to successfully use a plumbing snake.