How to Use a Drain Snake

Clogged drains can be a real nuisance. Have you ever tried to take a shower only to find yourself ankle-deep in the water like you’re in a bathtub? Or maybe you’ve tried to wash the dishes and your sink turned into a swamp? In these instances, it’s all too easy to pick up the phone and call a plumber. But if you’re the type of person who enjoys fixing things on their own, then learning how to use a drain snake may be a good option.

What is a drain snake?

A drain snake, also known as a plumber’s snake or a toilet jack, is a tool used by plumbers to fix clogged drain pipes. The tool is a metal wire in the shape of a helix. It is operated by turning a crank to access and dislodge debris from the inner drain.

There are several types of snakes:

  • Hand auger
  • Toilet auger
  • Drum auger
  • Motorized auger

Snakes are used when a simple toilet plunger can no longer do the job. One should exercise care when dealing with snake tools because improper use can cause damage to drains, leading to disastrous pipe tearing or leakage.

Different situations call for different types of snakes, but for the purposes of this guide, we will be teaching you how to use a hand auger. This tool can be bought from your local hardware store.

Once you have one at your disposal, you’re all set to learn how to use a drain snake.

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How to use a drain snake

A snake tool can be intimidating if you haven’t seen or used one before. Nevertheless, all it takes is preparation and a bit of practice to get the hang of the process.

Before you begin

Unclogging a drain can be messy. So you need to prepare plenty of towels and make sure that you wear appropriate clothing.

Always exercise caution when using tools. When in doubt, it’s best to call a professional.

The steps

  1. Insert auger head. The first thing you need to do is insert the auger head into the pipe in question. You may let some water run through the pipe to wet whatever is lodged in the pipe. This will make it easier for the snake to remove the debris.
  2. Crank the snake. Begin winding the crank so the snake can go through the pipe. Keep the tension tight by placing the auger head close to the pipe opening. Doing this will help the snake remove the blockage efficiently.
  3. Turn the crank repeatedly. Once you’ve reached the debris, you’ll need to turn the crank, clockwise and counter-clockwise, until it is loosened. Be careful not to go too hard to avoid hitting your pipe.
  4. Bring back the snake. When there’s no more resistance, start cranking back the snake until it reaches the surface. You may notice the obstruction attached to the snakehead. If it is, rinse it water until clean.
  5. Test the drain. Test your work by running the faucet and checking if the drain has been unclogged successfully. If the water is draining normally, you’ve done a good job!

As you can see, learning how to use a drain snake is simple enough. The feeling you get by fixing something of yours is like no other. The next time one of your drains is clogged, try this method! It won’t disappoint.