How to Use a Plumbing Snake

A plumbing snake, also known as a drain snake or auger, is a flexible tool used to clear clogged drains or pipes. It is a useful tool for homeowners, as it can help you handle minor plumbing issues without having to call a professional plumber. In this article, we will discuss how to effectively and safely use a plumbing snake to clear clogs, step by step.

Follow these steps when using Plumbing Snake:

Step 1: Gather the Necessary Tools and Equipment

Gather all the tools and equipment you will need for the job. This includes a plumbing snake, a bucket, protective gloves, a flashlight, and possibly a wrench or pliers if you need to remove any fittings or traps.

Step 2: Identify the Problem

Determine the location of the clog. This is usually in a sink, bathtub, or toilet drain, but it can also be a clogged main sewer line. If you are unsure, try flushing the toilet or running water down the drain to see if the problem persists.

Step 3: Access the Drain

Remove any covers, drain stoppers, or strainers that may be obstructing the drain. This will give you easier access to the clog and help the snake glide through the pipe more smoothly.

Step 4: Insert the Plumbing Snake

Feed the plumbing snake slowly into the drain. Start with the snake’s handle end and push it in as far as it will go. Use gentle, steady pressure to avoid damaging the pipes or causing the snake to coil back up.

Step 5: Rotate and Push the Plumbing Snake

Once the snake is inserted into the drain, start rotating it clockwise. This motion helps the plumbing snake move through the clog and break it up. Simultaneously, apply a little pressure to push the snake further into the pipe.

Step 6: Be Patient

If you encounter resistance or feel the plumbing snake is stuck, do not force it. Instead, rotate it back and forth gently while pushing to dislodge the clog. This may take some time if the clog is severe.

Step 7: Maintain Constant Pressure

While rotating and pushing, keep the pressure on the snake constant. This will prevent the snake from retracting or coiling back up, ensuring it stays in contact with the clog.

Step 8: Break Up the Clog

Continue pushing and rotating the plumbing snake until you feel the resistance diminish or hear a change in the sound as the clog breaks up. If the snake becomes noticeably easier to turn, it indicates progress is being made in clearing the clog.

Step 9: Remove the Plumbing Snake

Once you feel the clog has been cleared, slowly withdraw the plumbing snake from the drain while keeping it rotating. This action helps to scrape any remaining debris off the pipe walls as you remove it.

Step 10: Clean and Test

After removing the snake, clean off any debris or residue from the tool. Run water or flush the toilet to test if the clog has been successfully cleared. If the water drains freely, congratulations; you have successfully used a plumbing snake to clear a clog!

Step 11: Rinse and Repeat if Necessary

If the drain is still slow or not fully clear, repeat the process. It may take a few attempts to completely eliminate stubborn clogs, especially if they are deep in the pipes.

Step 12: Dispose of Debris and Clean Up

Dispose of the debris removed from the drain and clean up any mess made during the process. Use the bucket to collect any water or sludge that accumulated during the snaking process.

Step 13: Prevent Future Clogs

To prevent future clogs, practice good drain maintenance. Avoid putting grease, hair, food particles, or other solid materials down the drain. Install screens or hair catchers in sinks and showers to catch debris. Regularly flush drains with hot water to minimize buildup.

plumbing snake

Safety Considerations when using a Plumbing Snake

When using a plumbing snake, there are several safety considerations to keep in mind to ensure your safety and the effectiveness of the tool:

Wear protective gear

It is important to wear gloves and safety glasses when using a plumbing snake to protect your hands and eyes from any debris or splashing water.

Turn off the water supply

Before using a plumbing snake, it is crucial to turn off the water supply to prevent any accidental flooding or water damage.

Use proper technique

Follow the manufacturer’s instructions and use the snake correctly. Avoid excessive force or aggressive movements that can damage the pipes or the snake itself.

Avoid chemical use

Some clogs may require chemical drain cleaners, but it is recommended to avoid their use in combination with a snake. Chemicals can splash back or interact with the snake, causing harmful fumes or corrosion.

Be cautious of electrical lines

When using a plumbing snake, be cautious of any electrical lines or outlets nearby. If the snake comes into contact with electricity, it can result in serious injury or damage.

Work in a well-ventilated area

If you are using a plumbing snake indoors, it is important to work in a well-ventilated area to avoid breathing in any harmful fumes from chemicals or accumulated debris.

Keep others away

Ensure that no one is standing near you while using a plumbing snake. The tool can be dangerous if not used correctly, and it is best to keep others at a safe distance.

Use proper disposal methods

After using the plumbing snake, it is essential to properly clean and sanitize it before storing it away. Dispose of any debris or waste materials in accordance with local laws and regulations.

By following these safety considerations, you can effectively and safely use a snake to unclog pipes and avoid any accidents or damage.

Using a plumbing snake – Conclusion

In conclusion, using a plumbing snake can be a simple and effective way to clear clogged drains. By following these steps and taking your time, you can save money on hiring a professional plumber and keep your pipes flowing freely. Remember to always exercise caution and wear protective gloves when working with plumbing tools.

When to Call a Professional

If you have attempted to fix a plumbing issue yourself using a plumbing snake, but the problem persists or worsens, it is advisable to contact a professional plumber. Lifetime Plumbing has the knowledge, experience, and tools to effectively resolve plumbing problems.

While using a plumbing snake can be a helpful tool for minor clogs, it may not be sufficient for more severe plumbing issues. In such cases, contacting a professional plumber will save you time, and money, and ensure the problem is properly resolved.

Lifetime Plumbing, your licensed plumber in Chicago is available to solve all your plumbing problems. Lifetime Plumbing can also assist you with emergency plumbing, commercial plumbing, residential plumbing, installing and repairing water heaters, fixing water leaks, gas leaks, drain cleaning and tankless water heater repair and installation.