One of the most common plumbing issues people run into is clogged drains. Whether it is from pouring grease and fats down the kitchen sink which then solidifies in the pipes, or hair and soap in bathroom and shower drains, everyone experiences a blocked drain at some point. In some cases, these are minor clogs that are something you can solve yourself with a bit of effort and some basic tools. But sometimes it is best to leave it to a licensed local plumber. Snaking a drain is something that is simple in concept but if you are concerned about causing damage call your plumber instead. Here is a look at some plumbing basics.

What is a plumbing snake?

A plumbing snake or drain snake is one of the best drain cleaning tools used to unblock a drain when other efforts such as clearing the hair you can see or plunging, have not been successful. When you are thinking of getting one from a local supply store or hardware shop it is important to know how to use a plumbing snake. Some plumbing snakes are designed to clear drains and some for unblocking sewer lines so get the right one. It is an auger attached to one end then a long flexible cable and a handle at the other end. You pass the auger through feeding it until it reaches the clog and then rotate the handle essentially but you need to take care as it is possible to damage the pipes when using one.


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Tips on how to snake a drain

Here are some more details on using a plumber’s snake to clear your clog problem.

  1. Prepare for the work – To get prepared you need some gloves to protect your hands, some old towels or papers to lay down to absorb any spills and you should use some pliers or an old bent coat hanger to get out what you can in the sink, bathtub or shower.
  2. Feed in the plumber’s snake – After that, you should give the plunger a try. If those efforts do not budge the clog you need to consider snaking a drain. Run the water and at the same time feed in the plumber snake down the drain until you reach the clog. As you feed it in turn the handle clockwise.
  3. Reposition as you need to – As you pass it through be sure to reposition as you need to, working the snake through the pipe, but not scraping the sides of the pipe and keeping it steady. Going too crazy at this point is why some end up calling in a plumber to fix the clog and to repair the damaged pipes, a more costly job now.
  4. When you reach the clog – When you feel something up against the auger giving resistance you need to keep turning the handle and also try a careful back and forth motion to dislodge the clog and get it moving.
  5. When you are through the blockage – As you feel the auger push through the clog give it a little more push straight through to break it up.
  6. Have a bucket ready – When looking at how to use a plumbing snake that early preparation now pays off. A large blockage might need you to reach in and pull it the rest of the way out so you need those gloves and that bucket. Sometimes there is also a rush of water as well the material causing the blockage. You will be glad you put down papers or old towels.


Some people when their first attempts at just using their hands to clean the hair out do not fix the blockage problem, then turn to chemicals to pour down. It is strongly advised that you avoid doing this though as those chemicals are not good for the environment, your plumbing system or you. Also if a plumber does need to come in anyway, those chemicals are a risk to them as they work. If you prefer not to learn how to snake a drain because of a lack of tools or knowledge then call your plumber out before this stage. Plumbing snakes are very effective tools for removing clogs but if you are not familiar with them stay safe and hire a professional.