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How To Use a Plumbing Snake

How To Use a Plumbing Snake

You never know when an intense clog will strike. You may wake up one morning and discover that the water in your sink won’t drain anymore or that it drains so slowly that you must wait a while between uses. 

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This is why a plumbing snake is a must-have tool for any homeowner. They are easy to use and effective at eliminating clogs. 

However, getting the advantages from this means knowing how to use one properly. Keep reading to discover how to use a plumbing snake and when you should use one. 

What Is a Plumbing Snake?

A plumbing snake is essentially a metal cable that can be threaded into a drain to break up a clog. It is flexible enough to bend and turn with pipes but rigid enough to be worked into the drain without bending back on itself. 

The snake typically has an auger and a handle attached to it. The auger is the part that will plunge into the drain and break the clog. The handle helps the operator manage the snake and guide it where it needs to go. A spring is also usually attached, which helps push the snake further into the drain. 

Types of Plumbing Snakes

Plumbing snakes come in different varieties depending on the job. There are top snakes, medium drain machines, large drain machines, and snakes specifically built for toilets, called toilet augers. The snake you use will depend on the job you need it for. 

  • Top snake: A top snake is the standard option for plumbing snakes. They are primarily designed for sink drains and other small jobs. This is the type of drain snake that you will usually encounter first when you look for drain snakes at your local hardware shop. 
  • Medium and large drain machines: These are more intense drain snakes. They are usually longer than top snakes and are made for more intense jobs. Choosing between the medium and large options will depend on the job size. 
  • Toilet augers: These augers are specifically designed for use in toilets. This is necessary because a normal plumbing snake will damage the toilet, so make sure not to use a plumbing snake on a toilet that isn’t specifically designed for it. There are even specialty versions of toilet augers that are designed for urinals. 

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When to Use a Plumbing Snake

When unclogging a drain, a plumbing snake is incredibly effective but isn’t the first option most people try. This is because it is a little intense, and other options are easier. 

You can start with another method for simple jobs, like food stuck in the drain or a small clog. Most people start by running hot water down the drain, which only requires boiling and pouring some water into the drain. However, this only works on minor clogs and should not be done if the drain is connected to PVC pipes. You can also try using a plunger to try to dislodge the clog. However, this doesn’t work for large clogs or clogs located deeper in the drain. 

After exhausting these options, a plumbing snake is the usual next step. 

How to Use a Plumbing Snake

It is pretty easy for anyone to use a plumbing snake, and the results are surprisingly effective. However, it is important to know exactly how to use one. Otherwise, the process will not work, and you can even damage your plumbing. 

Insert the Auger

The first thing you need to do when using a plumbing snake is insert the auger. Simply remove any cover over the drain and place the auger inside. 

When using a plumbing snake on a sink, you can also remove the p-trap. This is the bending pipe underneath the sink. Removing the p-trap allows you to get deeper into the drain because you can insert the auger into the pipe it connects to rather than working through the p-trap first. This is essential for deep clogs but unnecessary for more shallow ones. 

Begin Uncoiling Until You Reach the Blockage Plumbing Snake

With the auger inserted, you can start moving the snake deeper into the drain or pipe. You can do this by turning the handle on the snake and uncoiling the snake’s spring. 

When doing this, you want to be careful. Going too fast can push the snake forward in a way that can damage it or the things it is coming into contact with. So, take your time and uncoil the snake with care at a controlled pace. 

Keep doing this until it feels like there is some resistance on the other end. At this point, the snake may have dug into the clog. 

Remove the Snake to Test If the Clog Is Cleared

Once you believe the drain snake has encountered the clog, you want to use the snake to break it apart. You can do this by slightly moving the snake around. Again, do this in controlled movements and avoid going too fast, as doing so can cause damage. 

Once you have done this for a few moments, you may notice less resistance than you initially encountered. This is a sign that the blockage has broken apart or become dislodged. At this point, you can remove the snake. 

Once completely removed, you can reattach the p-trap if you removed it previously. Then, try running water through the drain again. If it runs fine, then you have successfully unclogged the drain. If it doesn’t, you may need to repeat the process or seek professional drain cleaning

Local Plumber 

Plumbing snakes are a wonderful tool and can be great for unclogging a drain. However, they aren’t the solution to every clog. Sometimes, a clog will remain resistant to all of your snaking efforts. 

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In this situation, professional help is needed. A-Absolute Plumbing is the professional help you need. Our advanced equipment allows us to address clogs you can’t get. We can also help ensure the job goes well without damaging your home or pipes. So, if you need help with a clog, call A-Absolute.