Clogged pipes are an unpleasant but standard occurrence that you have to face on a semiregular basis as a homeowner — or perhaps frequently if you have children who like to send little surprises down the toilets and sinks, like cotton balls, tiny toy dinosaurs, and chunks of their siblings’ hair.
If you’re a handy do-it-yourselfer, you can resolve a minor clog on your own by using a plunger or cleaning the trap. More stubborn clogs will require you to use a drain snake or auger.
What Is A Drain Snake?
A snake is a coiled steel wire on a handle that you crank to drive the wire deep into the pipe. The snake will partially break up the clog so you can flush it away with water or grab onto the clog so you can pull it up and out of the pipe.
Why Use a Drain Snake Instead of Chemical Drain Cleaners?
You should never resort to chemical drain cleaners as these will eat away at your plumbing and the clog. Furthermore, if the clog is blocking water flow, the chemicals won’t even clear the drain since they need water to work.
How To Snake a Clogged Drain
Most home improvement stores offer a variety of drain snake options. Be sure also to buy a bucket and rubber gloves — you’ll need them!
- Once your gloves are on and the bucket is standing by, feed a few inches of the snake into the clogged pipe.
- Crank the auger handle to push the wire down through the pipe, jiggling it and applying pressure to help it get around any tight bends.
- You’ll feel resistance when the snake finds the clog. Keep rotating the handle until the wire starts descending freely again or resists descending further. At this point, the snake will break up a soft blockage or wrap around and entangle a solid or tightly packed clog.
- Start cranking the auger in the opposite direction. If it felt like the clog was solid, the wire should pull the clog out of the drain with it.
- It’s usually a good idea to snake the drain a second time to ensure you’ve grabbed as much of the blockage as possible.
- Once you’ve broken up or pulled out as much of the clog as possible, run water down the drain at full blast for a few minutes to flush out the pipes completely.
What if the Water Still Won’t Drain?
If you’ve snaked the drain twice with no improvement, or if multiple drains are clogged, it’s better to call a plumber for a drain cleaning service.