Unclog a toilet or blocked drain
Having a pesky blockage in your drainage system can be a real headache, whether it is in the shower, toilet, or kitchen sink. A blocked drain can disrupt your daily routine and cause inconvenience. It can even lead to expensive and severe water damage if left unaddressed. Seeing the water level rise rather than disappearing into your drain when you flush can also induce panic and stress.
Not dealing with this may lead to serious problems, such as burst pipes and damage to your home. However, you can usually resolve this problem quickly. Wondering how to unclog a toilet or blocked drain? Using a drain snake or plumbers snake on a blockage is an effective and simple way of treating it. With this powerful and handy tool, you can bid farewell to clogs and restore the smooth flow of water in your home.
What is a Plumbing Snake?
If you are looking to unclog a sink or drain, you may have come across the suggestion of using a drain auger or plumbing snake. But what’s a drain snake? How should you use it? Also known as a drain auger, a plumbing snake is a flexible cable with a coil or blade attached to one end and is used by plumbing professionals to remove the object or material that is clogging your sink. Its main purpose is to get the water flowing smoothly again. The plumbing snake is pushed into a clogged drain in order to dislodge whatever is blocking your pipes.
A plumbing snake is specifically designed to navigate through drains and break up or retrieve clogs, such as debris and hair, which cause blockages. It is like a superhero for your plumbing system and can be a lifesaver when plungers and chemical cleaners fall short. When water does not drain, you may use a snake for sinks, toilets, and tubs. However, always make sure that you are using the correct one.
Also Read: How To Unclog A Bathroom Sink
What Type of Plumbing Snake Should I Use?
When choosing a plumbing snake to unclog a blocked drain, you should consider the size and type of drain. For many household drains and residential plumbing systems, a handheld drum auger or a toilet auger should suffice.
These models are simple to handle and effective in removing common clogs. However, if you have a large or more stubborn clog, you may need a motorized drain snake. Here is a quick breakdown of the types of drain snakes or augers commonly used by homeowners and plumbers.
»Manual Cable Snake
These plumbing snakes are usually attached to a handle or rotating mechanism. They are easy to use and are available at most hardware stores. You just have to insert the end of the cable into your drain and then crank the handle to rotate the cable. It will burrow deep, and the cable will help break up the clog, clearing the drain.
» Toilet Auger
This is a special auger for toilets and has a long, flexible tube with a corkscrew-like tip. This configuration gives you more leverage, making it easier to unclog a toilet. The tip is inserted into the toilet and turned in order to break up the clog.
» Drum Auger
A drum auger is another type of plumbing snake. It contains the snake within a drum, which you can rotate by a handle. You will find drum augers of various sizes. They are suitable for different applications, including sinks, toilets, and internal and external drain pipes.
» Flat Tape Snake
A flat tape snake is also easy to use and can be efficient and effective at clearing light clogs. They are made of flexible metal tape. The tape is inserted into the drain and pushed through to break the clog.
How to Use a Plumbing Snake
So, how to use a drain snake? Well, it depends on the drain you will use it on and the plumbing snake or auger you have. Here are some tips and steps for using a drain snake for different types of blockages in your home.
- Safety first: You should put on goggles and protective gloves to shield yourself from any potential mess and splashes.
- Disconnect the water supply: If you’re unclogging a sink or toilet, turn off the water supply to the sink or toilet.
- Prepare the plumbing snake: You should extend the cable fully. However, don’t go beyond its limits to prevent it from getting stuck in the drain. Lock the cable in place, ensuring it won't retract unexpectedly during use.
- Remove the drain cover or strainer.
- Insert the plumbing snake: Gently guide the snake into the drain opening. Stop when you encounter resistance or reach an obstruction. This indicates the presence of the clog.
- Break up the clog: Now it is time to rotate the snake or drain auger clockwise while pushing it forward. This motion helps the coil or blade at the end of the snake break up or grab onto the clog, allowing you to pull it out.
- Push the plumbing snake in and out: You should continue to rotate the handle while pushing the snake in and out of your drain. This will help dislodge the clog.
- Retrieve or dislodge the clog: Slowly retract the plumbing snake, maintaining the rotational motion. If you face any resistance while pulling back, it indicates that the clog is entangled in the blade or coil. You should carefully remove the snake and ensure that the clog is securely attached. After that, dispose of it properly.
- Flush the drain: After clearing the clog or obstruction, flush your drain with hot water and reconnect the water supply.
How to Snake a Tub
To unclog a bathtub drain using a snake, remove the overflow plate and then insert the snake directly into the overflow pipe. Ensure you put the screws where they will not fall into the tub drain. After this, you should remove the stopper. Insert the snake through the overflow until you feel resistance.
This shows the existence of the blockage. Now, follow the steps mentioned above. As you reel the plumbing snake or auger back in, it will likely bring the clog with it. You should screw back on the overflow plate and put the stopper back in its place. After that, you can run hot water to make sure all debris is cleared.
How to Snake a Sink
For sink drains, you will have to remove the P-trap. The P-trap is located beneath the sink. You will have to perform this step before snaking your drain. Place the sharp end of the plumbing or hair snake into your drain with pointy sides or thorns facing up. Insert the hair snake into the horizontal pipe leading to the wall. After that, rotate and push it through until you feel resistance or encounter a clog. You can rotate the snake or spin it.
The main idea is to get the thorns or pointy sides of the hair snake to snag any hair or debris. Also, make sure you’ve a trash bag nearby to clean debris and hair from the drain snake and put it into the bag. After clearing the clog, you should flush the drain with hot water.
How to Snake a Toilet
If you are snaking your toilet, you should start with the bowl. However, make sure that you use a toilet auger for this job. Using a specialized toilet auger will help prevent damage to the porcelain. Once you’ve a toilet auger, follow these steps:
- Insert the toilet snake into the toilet bowl, directing it toward the drain.
- Crank the handle slowly and carefully in order to allow the cable to move easily through the bend. Rotate and push the toilet snake while keeping steady pressure until the clog is cleared.
- If you face any difficulty or issues, simply release the crank and wait a while for it to reset. You can try again.
- You should retract the cable of your toilet auger by turning it the other way. This will dislodge the clog.
- Now, remove the toilet snake carefully and flush your toilet to check the drainage is restored.
- Clean your toilet auger thoroughly after use.
How to Snake a Kitchen Sink
Sink drains are different since you can’t snake them from above. You may know that kitchen sink drains usually get clogged with food debris and grease. Remove the trap, strainer, or cleanout plug. After that, insert the snake directly into the pipe. Keep maneuvering the cable.
This will help break up the clog. Wrap up the plumbing snake after cleaning it and replace the strainer or P-trap. Now, you can turn your hot faucet on and let it run for a few minutes. This will flush out any remaining debris.
When to Call a Professional Plumber
While using a plumber's snake or toilet auger is an effective DIY method for unclogging a blocked drain, in some situations, it's best to call the professionals. For example, if repeated snaking attempts don’t yield the desired result, or you suspect a more severe underlying issue, like a main sewer line blockage or a damaged pipe, you should seek expert assistance. A trained and experienced plumber is equipped to find these issues and fix them.
Snaking is usually a simple DIY project that any homeowner can try. With a plumbing snake or auger, you can tackle the most common drain clogs, saving time and money. However, DIY snaking might not remove extremely stubborn clogs and can’t cut through hard obstructions.
If you have snaked your drain and the clog does not clear, contact Conejo Valley Home Services Plumbing & Rooter at (805) 499-0448 for effective and affordable drain unclogging services. Conejo Valley Home Services Plumbing & Rooter has sophisticated toilet augers and plumbing snakes to unclog your drain and get your toilet or sink working again. They also offer 24-hour service should plumbing emergencies and issues occur in the middle of the night.
- The clog is too severe.
- The clog is in a hard-to-reach spot.
- The clog is caused by a root.
Drain snakes are usually smaller and more flexible compared to drain augers. Drain augers are larger and more powerful than drain snakes. This means that drain snakes are suitable for clearing minor clogs in small drains. Drain augers are better for clearing more severe clogs in large drains.