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Friday, 01 June 2012 17:53

How to Use a Drain Snake

If you have a clogged drain, you know what a pain it is to try and use a plunger to clear it.  Usually you end up with water splashing everywhere, tired arms and little progress.  Well, you can clear the drain with a drain snake relatively easy.  Here is an article we recently read that helps a home owner clean out their drain with a drain snake.  Good luck!

A drain snake can be a do-it-yourself solution to a professional level problem. A clogged drain inevitably happens in every home. When it does, you have a few options for clearing a clog. You can use a plunger (the least expensive option and proper first choice), you can try pouring chemicals down the drain (not good for the environment and potentially dangerous to anyone working on the drain), you can call a plumber (and deal with a bill for a hundred dollars or more), or you can use a drain snake to clear it yourself (at a first time cost of about $25).

What is a Drain Snake? A drain snake (also called a plumbing snake or drain auger) is a long, flexible metal cable with a cone shaped auger on the end. Similar to commercial drain cleaning augers, a home drain snake is much smaller (about 50 feet long) and usually hand powered. It’s called a snake because of its obvious resemblance to a real snake; you use a drain snake by feeding the end into the drain and pushing it through the drain line while turning a handle on the snake to keep the cable turning around inside the drain line.

Since the snake is flexible it can bend around the twists and turns of the drain pipe without getting stuck while moving forward until it reaches the obstruction in the line. Here, the twisting motion of the auger end hooks onto the obstructions so they can be pulled back out of the drain.

There are different versions of home drain snakes for toilets and other drains. Besides the obvious reason why you wouldn't want to use the same snake in both a kitchen sink and a toilet, the toilet snake has a plastic cover to protect the porcelain from being scratched by the metal cable and auger.

Using a Drain Snake

Drain snakes are easy to use, and having one (or buying one for the first time) when a plunger can't clear your drain, can save you hundreds of dollars over the years. Start by spreading some old towels around the drain. Put on some protective gloves because you will probably be touching the cable after it comes out of the drain (and whatever caused the clog). Use work gloves for this, as the coils of the cable can grab onto a thin latex glove and rip them off. Have an empty pail close by to put the clog into after you get it out of the drain.

Put the auger end of the snake into the drain and feed the cable in while constantly turning it. Work slowly, and keep twisting the handle on the snake as it works its way along the pipe. If you are snaking out a tub, feed the auger through the overflow drain, not the drain in the floor of the tub. You probably have to remove the cover to do this. Going through the overflow prevents the snake from traveling up the air vent to the roof rather than following the drain.  

When the snake encounters the blockage you will feel the cable back up, keep turning the cable so it catches onto the clog. When you feel resistance turning the cable, slowly pull the cable back out and take of the clog.

Run some water down the drain to flush out anything the snake may have dislodged inside the drain, then clean and dry your snake and put it away, until the next time.


Editor’s Note:
Drains can be a pain! Sometimes, the easiest solutions can clear the clog and life goes on.  Other times it seems like nothing helps.  If you find yourself in the situation where you just can’t seem to get that clog out of the drain, give the professionals a call to insure it is done properly.  In today’s busy world, sometimes it takes less time to have someone else handle the job.  Call us if you need plumbing assistance.  (704) 336 - 9671
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