plumber using auger to snake a drain

Whether your bathtub drain, toilet, or sink has a clog, it can have an immediate impact on your day. Before calling a professional, you may be tempted to attempt to remove the clog yourself by using a plumbers snake, also commonly referred to as a drain snake. 

This is a ¼-inch metal coil tool designed to break up blockages that clog your drains. Snaking a drain is not rocket science, but it does require a certain finesse. Here is more about how to snake a drain and why calling a professional plumber could be in your best interests.

What Tools Will You Need to Snake a Drain?

Do not attempt to sneak your drain until you have the necessary tools and materials. These include:

  • Protective goggles
  • A drain auger
  • Paper towels
  • Rubber gloves
  • A 5-gallon bucket

You can usually find these items at your local hardware store or on Amazon. However, if you do not have these tools on hand to snake a drain, do not attempt to makeshift your own. 

Instead, skip to the end of this page and call a professional plumber for help clearing your drain. You do not want to do further damage or make the drain worse by using improper tools.

Snaking a Drain Step-by-Step

Once you have the tools you need, here are the steps you should take to properly snake your drain using DIY efforts:

First, make sure you have a plumber’s snake. A standard plunger is not going to get the job done. You can get a drain auger that is electric or manual, depending on your specific needs. 

Many homeowners wind up purchasing manual models, as they allow you to attach electric drills as needed. When you attach an electric drill, you have additional power, which makes it easier to break up the clog. 

Buying an Auger

If you do not have a plumber’s snake on hand, you should be prepared to purchase one at a local home improvement store. The prices for a drain auger can vary widely based on the brand, the type of snake, and other factors. 

For example, electric models could cost more than $100, but sturdy metal coil models may cost substantially less. Do not buy a cheap plastic model that costs $25 or less, as it is unlikely to function as you intended. If you are going to spend hundreds of dollars on a drain auger, it may be a better option to contact a professional plumber who will ultimately cost less. 

They will get the job done correctly the first time, so it is less likely your drain was clogged sooner. If you are not interested in purchasing your own drain auger but are still hoping to avoid hiring a professional, your local home improvement store may be willing to rent you one for a price.

Put Safety Gear On

Once you have your drain auger, it is time to gear up. Make sure you put on the necessary safety gear, including goggles and rubber gloves. This is especially important if you attempt to use a toxic chemical drain cleaner, such as Drano, in an attempt to remove the clog on your own. 

Keep a bucket close by and insert the drain auger into the drain. You will then feed the snake down the pipeline slowly. Do not be surprised if you initially struggle to get the snake down the line. 

Once the snake is a few inches down the drain, start to crank the handle. This will push the snake down into the drain to remove the clog.

Don’t Give Up

When pipes bend, you may need to crank the handle more or wiggle your snake wire to keep it moving. Once the snake reaches the blockage, as the tip rotates, it will either push the clog further down the pipe, break it up, or grab onto it so it can be pulled out. 

However, if the blockage is a solid mass, the snake head will likely resist turning and potentially pierce the mass. Once the drain auger has a hold of the clog, wiggle the wire to loosen it so you can remove the clog efficiently.

Wind the Snake Back Out of the Drain

When the snake coil will not feed anymore, you can wind the snake back out of the drain. At this point, the clog should come out. Depending on the type of clog and drain you are working with, the clog may appear as a solid chunk or in pieces. 

You can then check to see if your drain is unclogged by flushing the toilet or running the water. Detach any debris your drain auger pulled out and throw it away. If the drain is not yet unclogged, start from step one and repeat the process until the clog is removed, or you decide hiring a professional plumber is a better alternative.

How to Keep Your Drains Clear 

Whether you are snaking a drain on your own or have decided to outsource your efforts to a highly-trained professional, there are certain steps you can take to keep your drains clear at all times. Here are some of our plumber’s top recommendations:

  • Remove shower drain covers and take a bent wire to clear out any hair or soap buildup.
  • In your bathtub, raise the pop-up assembly and remove your overflow plate. This way, you can clear any obstructions by being able to reach the rocker or spring arm.
  • In your kitchen sink, always use cold water to flush debris when using the garbage disposal, and continue to run water for at least 30 seconds so your pipes are thoroughly rinsed off.

Most importantly, if you are going to keep your drains clean, do not put debris in them. You should avoid putting the following materials into your drains at all costs:

  • Cat litter
  • Grease
  • Coffee grounds
  • Feminine hygiene products
  • Fats
  • Rice
  • Napkins
  • Dental floss
  • Plaster
  • Gum
  • Bandages
  • Baby wipes
  • Eggshells
  • Pasta
  • Building materials

Call a Professional Plumber for Help Today

You can attempt to snake a drain yourself, but there is no guarantee you will entirely remove the clog. Even if the drain initially clears, it is possible the clog could return due to other blockages that were not completely removed during your initial drain attempt. 

Save yourself time and energy. Hire a professional plumber at Plumbing by Jake and get your drain cleared or replaced the first time. Contact our team for a free estimate today or schedule an appointment. You can reach us through our quick contact form or by phone to get started.