How To Use A Plumbing Snake

How To Use A Plumbing Snake

Anthony Barnes

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Having one of your sinks, toilets, or showers on the blink can be frustrating that is usually fixed by calling a plumber or a professional of some sort.

Plumbing can be an absolute nightmare that’s made a lot easier with plumbing snakes. 

However, a lot of people have the motivation without the know-how of what to do with a plumbing snake.

Follow our guide to find out what a plumbing snake is, what they do, and how to use them.

After all, there’s no point in having the right tools if you don’t know how to use them!

What Is A Plumbing Snake?

A plumbing snake is essentially a long thin device that has been designed to clear blocked drains and pipes.

It’s a very flexible piece of plastic tubing that is attached at both ends. The pipe then passes through the drainpipe from end to end and unblocks it using friction. 

The best way to look after your plumbing snake is by keeping it clean and dry at all times.

This means wiping off any excess dirt and grime before you insert it into the sink, bathtub, toilet, etc.

Make sure to keep it away from hot water and other household liquids because they could damage it and cause a difference in the quality.

Keep it stored in a safe spot, making sure that dust doesn’t get to it.

How To Use A Plumbing Snake

There are two ways you can use a plumbing snake (see also ‘Best Plumbing Snake For Your Bathroom‘): manually or automatically. You can either push the snake down your drain pipe or pull it back up.

Either method will work just fine for most situations but we’ll cover each of these methods below.

Manually Using A Plumbing Snake

If you’re using a manual plumbing snake, you need to grab one end of the snake and slide it down your drain pipe until you reach the clog.

Once you’ve done this, grip the snake tightly and start pushing it down towards the bottom.

When you reach the clog, stop moving the snake so it gets stuck on top of the blockage instead of passing through it. 

Once the snake is stuck, let go of it and repeat the process on the opposite side of the problem, if you can.

You’ll then need to remove the snake from the outlet and rinse it off thoroughly.

Automatically Using A Plumbing Snake 

Automatically Using A Plumbing Snake

If you plan to use the automatic version of a plumbing snake, you’ll first need to purchase one of these devices.

In addition to the snake itself, you should also buy a snake extension that enables you to pass the snake further down your drainpipe than the standard model allows.

You connect the snake to the extension by twisting the fitting onto it and then hooking it to the wall socket.

Once you’ve connected the plumbing snake to the extension, attach the other end to your tap and turn it on.

Once you’ve got the power turned on, slide the snake slowly over the drainpipe and see if there is any sign of a blockage. 

If not, simply disconnect the snake and leave it as normal.

However, if you notice a blockage in the pipe, simply reconnect the snake and move it again. Continue doing this until the blockage is cleared.

How To Use A Drain Auger

Place the drain auger into your affected drain or toilet and have your drain snake close by. Take your drain snake and insert it directly into the drain or toilet.

Make sure that you remove the grill or drain cover before starting this process if there is one. Otherwise, you won’t be able to access the area that you need to address.

Next, you’ll need to push the drain auger into your toilet or drainage system and continue to rotate the handle of the device until you come across the blockage or debris.

The protective sheath of the auger is rotated against the auger handle. If there is a blockage, then your device will try to catch it and remove it.

When To Call A Professional

If you’ve tried all of this and the blockage in your toilet or shower is still there, then it’s always best to call a professional plumbing expert to remove the blockage for you.

Otherwise, you will risk breaking your equipment or you can make the blockage worse by moving it into a worse position.

At the end of the day, if you don’t feel confident in your abilities then you should always call someone who is.

Final Thoughts

It’s relatively straightforward to use a drain snake (see also ‘What To Do When Drain Snake Won’t Go Down Bathtub Drain‘) and you should follow our steps to make sure that you use them effectively against any blockages or debris caught in your pipes and plumbing systems.

However, as we previously mentioned, if you don’t feel confident enough that you can solve the blockage then it’s always best to find someone who is.

It can always be more expensive if you make the problem worse and isn’t worth it in the long run.

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By Anthony Barnes

Anthony Barnes is the founder of Water Heater Hub and a second-generation plumber by profession. Before developing Water Heater Hub, Anthony Barnes was a full-time plumber, and he has undertaken a wide variety of projects over the decades. As a second-generation plumber, it was easy for Anthony to get used to the technicalities of all from a tender age