How to Unclog a Drain With a Plumber’s Snake

In general, we don’t advise homeowners to handle plumbing projects on their own unless they really know what they’re doing. This is because even a small mistake could end up costing you more time and money in the end. However, for simple clogs, it’s sometimes worthwhile to try to fix it yourself before calling in a plumber.

How to Unclog a Drain With a Plumber’s Snake

If you’re attempting to unclog a sink or tub drain, and a plunger hasn’t done the trick, the next thing to try is a plumber’s snake. Not familiar with this tool? It’s actually pretty simple and quite effective. 

What is a plumber’s snake?

Also by going the names of drain snake and auger, a plumber’s snake is a tool that reaches down into a drain to break up a clog. There are various styles and lengths available but they all have a thin, flexible cable that gets inserted and extended down the drain. At the end of the snake is a spring-like piece that helps it spiral through whatever gunk it encounters. For hand-operated snakes, the end you will hold has a crank that spins the coil as it goes down the drain.

Steps for unclogging a drain with a plumber’s snake:

  1. Prepare the area. Cover any surface you don’t want to get dirty. We also recommend having a towel or bucket handy to dispose of any debris that you pull out of the drain.
  2. Remove the drain cover and insert the snake into the drainpipe. For sink drains, you can also remove the P-trap and put the snake through the pipe that goes into the wall. Either way, gently push the end of the snake down the drain without forcing it too hard (which could damage the plumbing).
  3. Extend the snake. Slowly rotate the crank clockwise, which will uncoil the cable and push it further down the drain. Pro tip: start with the handle end of the snake close to the drain, which gives you more control and requires less pressure.
  4. Break up the clog. The snake should move relatively smoothly until it reaches the obstruction. Once you feel it hit something, move the snake around so the spring end can break up the clog. If the tension releases, then it’s a good sign that you’ve dislodged or broke up the obstruction. During this part, it’s important not to jar the pipes too much to avoid damaging them.
  5. Pull the snake out of the drain. Reverse the process to retrieve the cable. It may bring up part of the obstruction, so get your towel or bucket ready to discard it.
  6. Check to see if the clog is clear. Once the plumbing is re-assembled, run the water to see if it drains properly. If it’s still slow, try snaking it again and breaking up more of the blockage.

When to call a professional plumber

If you try snaking the drain yourself and can’t seem to fix the clog, then it’s time to bring in a plumber for a professional drain cleaning. At Rooter-Man Plumbers, we have plenty of experience dealing with the most stubborn clogs, and we have high-powered equipment to deal with them properly. To schedule a drain cleaning in Northwest Houston, call us today at (281) 351-4422.

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