How To Use A Plumbing Snake At Home
What happens if your clogged drain couldnt be fixed with a plunger? No worries, there is another tool you can use at home that is a happy medium between common household plungers and the big guns. A plumbing snake is a flexible, long metal cable with a small uncoiled spring on one end and a handle on the other.
Plumbers snakes work by entering the drain directly to physically find the source of the blockage and then clear it away. The auger of the snake looks similar to a corkscrew. Then, when you manually insert the auger into the drain, you begin uncoiling by rotating the handle. This will secure any obstruction in the drainage and help clear it out or pull it out.
How Do You Fix A Kinked Drain Snake
You can fix a kinked drain snake by pulling it tightly with both hands several times until it straightens out. Pull the snake out of the drain if you feel it kink up as you are using it to avoid breaking it. It is much easier to straighten a kinked drain snake than to retrieve a broken one.
It is worth straightening your drain snake out before using it every time as a precautionary method. The best way to do it is to place it on the floor, grab one end, and have someone else grab the other end. Each of you can pull on one end at a time to straighten it out.
Drain Snake Cable Doesn’t Turn
When the cable doesn’t rotate, the problem is likely that you are not tightening the drain auger’s thumbscrew.
A cable extends from the drum portion of the auger, and at the end of the cable is a metal corkscrew designed to snag the clog. On the drum side is a handle. You push the corkscrew down the drain and then you turn and turn. And then you keep turning for what seems like forever but nothing is happening. What’s the problem?
Failure to tighten the thumbscrew is a common reason behind drain snakes that are not working. You must make sure that the thumbscrew that secures the cable inside the drum or handle is securely tightened. If it is not, the cable will not rotate at all when you twist the handle. Rotation is the action that causes the drain snake to pick up the debris pushing into the clog will not clear it.
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What Did We Learn
The best way to remove a broken snake from your drainpipe is to use a retrieval tip. Attach a retrieval tip to another plumbing snake, insert it into the drain, and use it to pull out the broken snake. Otherwise, you can remove the U-bend to pull out the pieces of the broken snake.
Clear the blockage in the drain when the U-bend is removed because you have perfect access. Use boiling water or vinegar before you snake the drain to make it easier on the snake.
Nick Durante is a professional writer with a primary focus on home improvement. When he is not writing about home improvement or taking on projects around the house, he likes to read and create art. He is always looking towards the newest trends in home improvement.
Drain Snake Won’t Grab Debris
The reason is that you are attempting to auger a clog that cannot be snagged and pulled up.
Clogs that respond best to the metal corkscrew end of the drain snake are clogs that can easily be snagged. Hair clogs are easily snagged by drain snakes. Cooking fat and other soft substances will not catch the corkscrew unless that debris also happens to have hair embedded in it.
Some clogs are just so dense that an ordinary hand drain snake cannot force its way through it. In this case, you have little choice but to rent a power auger or call a plumber to do the job. However, don’t give up too soon. Being patient and not forcing the auger cable may do the trick.
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Cant Get Snake Past Trap
Many people try to force the cable down the drain opening in order to get through the trap and get rid of the drain snake. You should take the drain trap apart and put the drain snake in the opening.
The trap is designed to hold the snake in place while you drain the water out of the pipe. If you dont do this, it will fall out, and youll have to start all over again.
Attach A Claw To Auger Cable
If you canât reach the snake with your own hands, you will need to find some sort of tool to grip the item for you, such as a hook or a clasp.
Most augers have a place for you to secure an attachment specifically made to fit the tool for this purpose. It can be wise to buy an auger that comes with a claw attachment when you originally purchase it, such as the VEVOR 50FTx1/2Inch Drain Cleaner Machine Electric Drain Auger.
If your auger didnât come with the claw attachment, you may be able to purchase it from the manufacturer. You must be careful to buy the correct attachment for your auger model.
Keep in mind that some augers donât allow you to switch out attachments and only have solid heads.
Alternatively, you can buy specialized snakes with claws already attached, made specifically for retrieving items that fell down the drain, such as lost keys or broken pieces of your old snake.
As a last resort, you may have to get creative and make your own grabbing mechanism using items from your garage. Be mindful not to use a component that may damage your pipes or also fall loose in your pipes.
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How To Get Broken Plumbing Snake Out Of A Clogged Drain Line
We will now describe some steps below, along with some videos to help you get the broken snake out of your drain pipe. A special note thoâ¦
Everything is easier when you can see what youâre dealing with. We highly recommend renting or buying a sewer camera or plumbing boroscope. These are small enough to advance down the drain alongside the snake cable, and will give you a visual display of where itâs stuck.
You can also use this visual aid to properly hook the lost or stuck portion of the snake. If you donât have one of these devices, you can learn more about a sewer camera locator, here.
Watch this DIY guy get his stuck snake out of the tub drain:
This method will help you retrieve a stuck cable when you simply need a grip to âwork it backâ toward yourself while recoiling the drain snake. However, if itâs further down and broke off while trying to turn a corner, youâre going to need an accompanying tool for the assist.
Tried Everything To Clear A Clog In A Sink Or Toilet And Nothing Has Worked
Before you jump to a drain snake, be sure you know the different types and how to use them. Its also important to understand the potential for damaging your pipes if used incorrectly.
The Drain Snake
A drain snake has a long metal cable with a metal cone on the end, known as an auger.
You use a drain snake by feeding the end into the drain and pushing it through the drain line while turning a handle to keep the cable spinning inside the pipe.
The snake is flexible so it can bend through the pipe without getting stuck. When it reaches the obstruction, the twisting motion of the auger end hooks onto any clogs so they can be pulled back out of the drain.
When a plunger wont do the job, the toilet auger is the next step up.
The toilet auger is a variation of the drain snake designed specifically for toilets and less likely to scratch the porcelain.
A hand crank enables a flexible cable to descend into your toilet and break up an obstruction.
Drain Snakes Can Damage Pipes
While billed as devices that are easy to use by anyone and everyone, drain snakes can be hard to manage, and if used improperly, can damage pipes.
Old pipes in many homes are galvanized, or coated in zinc, which was done to prevent the pipe from rusting or corroding. When a drain snake is inserted into a pipe, the end may flop around, scratching the pipe.
Drain Snakes Pose a Risk of Injury
A drain snake has a coiled wire, which harnesses a lot of energy when being used.
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How Much Does A Plumber Charge To Snake A Drain
A toilet, sink, tub, shower, or laundry drain will cost between $100 and $275. The average price for a Roto-Rooter to snake a sewer line is between $225 and $500. The cost of a snake drain can vary greatly depending on the type of snake and the size of the snake.
For example, if you have a small snake, you may be able to get away with a smaller drain than a larger one. If your snake is a large one, it may cost you more to have it snake the same size drain as the one you want to replace.
A Pipe Snake Got Stuck In Our Bathtub Drain We Got It Out Now The Clog Is Much Worse We Tried An Air Pump Plunger But We Can’t Get A Seal On The Overflow Drain So It Keeps Going There At The T Junction What Should We Do
With drain problems like this, youll need to open the access panel and remove the trap, then clean the drain through the branch line. Often times the overflow pipe is too small to clear the branch line properly. Even if you do get through, because the turn through the trap is so tight, the snake often gets stuck.
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How To Make A Plumbing Snake Turn Corners
A corner in a pipe is called an elbow. They can be harsh elbows like a 90 degree bend or a smaller elbow . Either way, debris will gather in those areas.
Getting your snake or drain auger through an elbow can be a challenge for even an experienced DIYer.
How to get a drain snake through an elbow or corner in your drain pipe requires a bit of elbow grease.
Make sure when you wind your drain snake into the pipe that you are rotating it the whole time. This winding motion with your drain auger helps it to make its way through corners in your pipes.
If you feel your snake getting jammed on an elbow, apply steady downward pressure as you wind the cord around. You should feel your snake get through after a few cranks of your cable. This can happen no matter what drain you are working on, including your bathtub drain.
Here Is Everything You Need To Know When Using A Plumbing Snake:
- Dress for the occasion. Depending on what drain you are trying to unclog, the job can get pretty messy. Layout some rags and/or old towels you dont use, on the floor to protect your floors and be ready to get dirty. This is especially true if youre having to unclog a sink where you may need to remove a sinks p-trap.
- You may need to remove the p-trap or p-bend of your drain located at the bottom of your sink. The p-trap is a curved component of the drain system whose main objective is to connect the sink drain to the main drain pipe but also aims to prevent sewer smells from entering your home. You can simply remove this drain manually by hand or by using an adjustable pipe wrench.
- You want to begin by threading the head of your snake through the drain pipe. Avoid forcing the auger through the drain because this may damage the pipe in the process.
- After youve inserted the snake, start uncoiling it by rotating the handle. Continue rotating and keep in mind to be as close to the pipe entrance as possible. You should uncoil with a steady pace, not too fast or too slow. If you feel resistance from the pipe, youve reached the obstruction that may be blocking your drain.
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How To Remove Broken Snake From Drain
There are only two ways that you can remove a broken snake from your drain without a plumbers help. You can either attach a retrieval tip to a new snake to fetch the old one, or you can dismantle the pipe. Accessing the pipe is the only way to directly pull out the broken pieces of the snake from the pipe.
Otherwise, you need to contact a plumber because excavation or serious plumbing work may be required.
My Plastic Drain Snake Is Stuck In The Bathtub
If you got your snake stuck in the tub drain, you wonât have as much trouble as if it gets lost in a drain line.
Gently pump or rock the snake at different angles to see if you can dislodge the snake as itâs probably caught in a localized clog or turn.
If you can pull the snake out, you will likely bring a large portion of the clog with it. If youâre not so lucky, pour drain cleaner down the drain to break up the clog enough to get the snake loose.
If the snake is caught in a turn, you may experience a more stubborn situation. In this case, you need a better grip and more power. Since the snake is caught near the drain opening, itâs easier to access.
Attach a vice grip to the end of the snake sticking out of the drain.
Watch this man get a âstuckâ powered drain snake from his drain:
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How To Prevent A Plumbing Snake From Breaking Inside A Drain Pipe:
Prevent broken snakes before they happen by adhering to the following tips:
- Start with low power and increase power gradually only when necessary
- Use a protective coating on the auger cable with every use
- Perform the appropriate research before attempting a new task
- Use the right auger for the job
- Maneuver and turn corners carefully
- Read your productâs user manual and get acquainted with the tool
- Keep up on plumbing maintenance
How Do Snakes Work
Basically, a drain snake or auger is a flexible and long metallic cable with an uncoiled spring or small auger attached on the end that gets into the drain pipe. The other end of the cable has a handle.
The auger comes with the design of a corkscrew or drill bit. Plumbers snakes used for domestic purposes measure approximately 50 feet in length.
The snake is usually coiled up when not in use. Most snakes used at home come with a manual, hand-operated crank or handle.
The snake works by getting into contact with the clog upon insertion into a drainpipe, thereby clearing the clog. The end with the auger is what youll insert into the clogged drain pipe.
You can insert the snake manually into a drain pipe and rotate the crank or handle to uncoil the snake. As it uncoils, the snake moves deeper into the drain until the auger penetrates through the clog and breaks it up.
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Why Cant I Get My Snake Down The Drain
Too much force When youre trying to dislodge a blockage, it can be tempting to try and force a snake cable through the drain too fast. Sometimes the cable will bend back on itself if you force it. The snake cable should be extended a few inches at a time until its no longer sticking.
The best way to do this is to use a pair of pliers or a small flat-blade screwdriver to hold the end of the wire in place. Then, with your other hand, gently push down on the other end. The cable should come out easily.
What Is The Difference Between A Drain Snake And An Auger
Drain snakes work for smaller drains like your kitchen or bathroom sink. Drain augers tackle larger pipes like your toilet or shower drain. You can use an auger for lines in the range of 1/2 to 3/8 in diameter if you use the snake.
You can also use a snake to drain water from a shower or bathtub. Youll need to make sure the snake is long enough to reach all the way to the bottom of the tub, but not so long that you cant reach it with your hand.
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Everything You Need To Know About A Plumber’s Snake
If you’ve never heard about Plumber’s Snakes, keep reading! These are essential tools in any professional plumber’s kit, and often, home DIY enthusiasts can use them too. There’s nothing worse than clogged drains, for so many reasons â water stains, leaks, warping, pipe damage, and flooding in your home â so sorting them out should be a top priority.
Find out everything you need to know about these devices, including how they work, the different types that are available, and how to use them. You’ll soon be a Plumber’s Snake expert in your own right, and unblock the clog yourself, or whether you need to know what questions to ask the plumber, you hire.
Break Up The Blockage
In all likelihood, your blockage is caused by a build-up of gunk and other drain debris, so wind the snake a little bit further into the pipe past the blockage point and then reverse the direction and wind it back up a little bit. Repeat this backwards and forward action to break up the blockage.
Note: You shouldnt hear or feel any scraping or grinding, but if you do, you could be attacking the pipe itself!
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