A drain auger or drain snake is a tool that can reach down into plumbing pipes. It clears clog-causing blockages. Have you tried to clear a clogged drain using a plunger? If it doesn’t work, you should use a drain snake as it’s your best chance to clearing out the clog yourself. A drain snake is also sometimes referred to as a plumber’s snake.

Snakes are more powerful than plungers, and they are more likely to clear clog-causing blockages. But, that power comes at a risk. If you aren’t careful while using a drain snake, you might end up tearing your pipe or even creating leaks. If you want to avoid doing this, learn how to use a drain snake properly. Our guide will help you out with that.

How Does a Drain Snake Work?

Before you learn how to use a drain snake to snake the drain, you must first understand how a drain snake works. Drain snakes come in different types and sizes. A standard drain snake is a flexible cable made of metal with either an uncoiled spring or small auger on one end to clear the blockage and a handle on the opposite end to hold the snake.

A drain snake works by directly entering the drain and clearing away the blockage causing the clog. You insert the auger end of your snake manually into the drain and rotate the handle to start unclogging. As you turn the handle, the auger moves through the drainpipe, and it ultimately breaks through the obstruction. Now that you know how a drain snake works let’s show you how you can use it for unclogging different drains.

How to Snake a Main Drain

A main sewer drain or main drain has a diameter of three to four inches. You would need a sewer auger to get rid of stoppages in this drain. The standard snake should not be used for clearing a blockage in the main drain as it can lead to problems. The cable may tie itself into knots or double back inside the pipe which could damage it. This happens because standard snake cable is not stiff enough.

Sewer augers come with a 3/4 inch or 5/8 inch cables that are extremely rigid, so they don’t get stuck or twist easily. You can get a sewer auger from a rental center. They are suitable for cutting through most blockages. Make sure to ask the rental company to provide you a quick lesson on using the machine. It can be dangerous to operate if you don’t know what you are doing.

How to Snake a Shower Drain

While the drain of a standard shower is bigger than that of a tub, you can still use a standard drain snake with a 5/16 inch (ca. 41 cm) or 1/4 inch cable so that the cable smoothly goes through. Most 1/4 inch snakes for plumbing have a 25 ft cable which is long enough to clear shower blockages. Most shower clogs are caused by a buildup of soap scum and hair and are easier to remove than other blockages.

How to Snake a Kitchen Drain

Kitchen drains may have a clean-out inside the sink cabinet or crawlspace area or the outside wall. If so, you should clear the blockages by snaking the kitchen drain from clean-out. A standard 25 ft or 50 ft drain snake should be used for kitchen drain cleanings. If the stoppage is before the clean-out, then you might have to disconnect the P-trap. The P-trap can be found under the kitchen sink. Once you have disconnected it, you can feed the drain snake directly into the pipe.

How to Snake a Bathroom Sink Drain

Many sink drain stoppages occur because of hair clogs that get stuck around the pop-up assembly. You might be able to reach the blockage and clear it with needle-nose pliers. If you can’t, disconnect the p-trap and then check for clogs. If you can’t find anything, then the blockage is farther down the sink line, and you will have to use a drain snake. A standard drain snake with a 25 ft cable can take care of bathroom sink clogs.

How to Snake a Tub Drain

Tubs are snaked through their overflow drain. Before you clear the clog-causing blockage, make sure that there are no hairs stuck in the tub drain’s cross-hairs. You can access cross-hair by removing the tub stopper. If there are no hairs and the cross-hairs are clean, it means that the blockage is farther down the drain. To clear the blockage, you can use a standard drain snake that comes with a 5/16 inch or 1/4 inch cable. Heavier cables can damage the pipe, and you may even find it hard to get them through the drain.

We have shown you how to use a drain snake to unclog different types of drains. Now if you ever get a clogged drain that you are struggling to clear with a plunger, use a drain snake. Snake plumbing isn’t too complicated. You don’t have to call a professional plumber to clear the blockage with a drain snake. If you can’t remove the blockage with a drain snake, then don’t try to force your way through as you might end up damage the pipe. Instead, call a plumber to clear the blockage for you.

Plumbers can identify the source of blockage using their advanced tools and unclog the drain without damaging the pipe. Therefore, you shouldn’t hesitate to take help from them if you can’t clear the blockage yourself.