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Unblock Yourself: How to Snake a Drain Using a Plumber’s Snake

Unblock Yourself: How to Snake a Drain Using a Plumber’s Snake

Plumber's snake illustration.

Unblock Yourself: How to Snake a Drain Using a Plumber’s Snake

Welcome to our guide on how to snake a drain using a plumber’s snake. Clogged drains can be a nuisance, but with the right tools and knowledge, you can easily clear them yourself. In this article, we will cover everything you need to know about drain snaking, including how to choose the right plumber’s snake, preparing for snaking, and troubleshooting tips. We’ll also provide a step-by-step guide on how to effectively snake a drain, and offer advice on post-snaking maintenance to prevent future blockages. So, whether you’re new to DIY drain snaking or just need a refresher, read on to learn how to effectively unclog your drains using a plumber’s snake.

Understanding Drain Blockages

Clogged drains can be a frustrating and inconvenient problem in any household. Understanding the common causes of drain blockages is essential to effectively unclogging them. Below are some of the most common causes of drain blockages:

Cause Effect
Hair Builds up in pipes and traps other debris, causing blockages
Grease Accumulates in drainage pipes and hardens, obstructing water flow
Food debris Traps other debris and builds up in pipes, causing blockages

It’s important to identify the source of the blockage before attempting to snake the drain. This can be done by observing the symptoms of the clog, such as slow drainage or gurgling sounds. Once the source of the blockage is identified, it will be easier to select the appropriate tools and method for unclogging the drain.

Choosing the Right Plumber’s Snake

Not all plumber’s snakes are created equal. Choosing the right one for your particular drain blockage is essential for successful unclogging. Here are some factors to consider when selecting a plumber’s snake:

Type of Snake Description
Handheld Snake These are smaller, manual snakes, perfect for minor clogs in smaller drains. They are easy to maneuver and inexpensive.
Power-Spinning Snake These snakes are powered by an electric motor and are best for larger, tougher blockages. They can reach longer distances and deliver more power than handheld snakes.
Closet Auger These snakes are designed specifically for toilets and have a shorter cable to prevent damage to the porcelain bowl. They are easy to use and effective for toilet blockages.

Consider the length and thickness of the snake as well. Longer cables are better for larger pipes, such as main sewer lines, while shorter cables work well for smaller pipes, like sink drains. Thicker cables provide more power but may not fit in all pipes. Make sure to also choose a snake with a cable that is flexible enough to navigate through the curves and bends in your pipes.


Choosing the right plumber’s snake can make all the difference in effectively snaking and unclogging your drain. Consider the type, length, thickness, and flexibility of the cable before making your decision. With the right snake, snaking a drain can be a simple and effective DIY solution to stubborn blockages.

Preparing for Drain Snaking

Prior to snaking a clogged drain, it is important to prepare adequately. Failure to do so could lead to injury or further damaging the drain system. Here are some crucial steps to follow:

  1. Put on gloves and safety goggles: Drain blockages may contain harmful substances or sharp objects that could cause injury. Protect yourself by wearing gloves and goggles.
  2. Gather necessary tools: To effectively snake your drain, you will need a plumber’s snake, bucket, and perhaps a flashlight. Make sure all tools are within reach before starting.
  3. Clear the workspace: Remove any obstacles around the drain that may hinder the snaking process. This will ensure that you have enough space to maneuver the snake through the drain.

Additionally, if the blockage is located in a sink or bathtub drain, remove the drain stopper or strainer to allow easier access to the drain.

Steps to Snake a Drain

Now that you have the right tools and have prepared the drain for snaking, it’s time to begin the process. Follow these steps to effectively snake your drain:

  1. Insert the plumber’s snake into the drain, starting at the opening. Slowly feed the snake further into the drain while turning the handle in a clockwise direction.
  2. Continue feeding the snake into the drain until you hit the blockage. You will feel some resistance when this happens.
  3. Once you’ve reached the blockage, rotate the snake back and forth to try and break it down. If you reach a point where the snake no longer moves, you may have successfully broken up the blockage.
  4. Slowly pull the snake out of the drain, being careful not to damage the interior of the drain. The blockage should be attached to the snake and come out of the drain with it.
  5. Dispose of the blockage properly and clean the snake and drain before use.

Tips for Effective Snaking

While snaking a drain is a relatively straightforward process, there are some tips that can help ensure the best possible outcome:

  • Be patient and take your time. Rushing the process can result in damage to the drain or pushing the blockage further down.
  • Use a flashlight to get a better view of the drain and identify any possible obstacles.
  • If the snake isn’t breaking up the blockage, try rotating it in the opposite direction or using a different type of snake.
  • When inserting the snake, make sure it follows the contour of the drain and doesn’t force itself into a sharp turn.
  • If you’re unsure of how to use a plumber’s snake, consider searching for a tutorial video online before attempting it yourself.

Troubleshooting and Tips

While snaking a drain can be an effective way to clear out a blockage, sometimes issues may arise during the process. Here are some troubleshooting tips to keep in mind:

  • If the snake gets stuck or doesn’t seem to be making progress, do not force it. This could cause damage to the drain pipe. Instead, try removing the snake and re-inserting it at a different angle.
  • If you cannot break through the blockage with the snake, it may be a sign of a more serious issue that requires professional assistance.
  • After snaking the drain, run hot water down it for a few minutes to flush out any remaining debris.
  • It’s important to regularly maintain your drain system to prevent future blockages. This includes avoiding pouring grease or oil down drains, using drain screens to catch debris, and periodically flushing drains with hot water.

Keep these tips in mind to ensure a successful drain snaking process and maintain a healthy drain system.

Post-Snaking Maintenance

After successfully snaking a drain, it’s important to take a few additional steps to ensure long-term effectiveness. Here are some post-snaking maintenance tips:

Clean the Plumber’s Snake

Before storing the plumber’s snake, make sure to clean it thoroughly to prevent any residual debris from causing future clogs. Use a hose or bucket of water to rinse off the snake while rotating it. Wipe it down with a clean cloth, and let it dry before storing it away.

Clean the Drain

After snaking the drain, use a drain cleaner or a mixture of vinegar and baking soda to thoroughly clean the drain. This will help remove any remaining debris and prevent future blockages. Pour the solution down the drain and let it sit for a few minutes before flushing it away with hot water.

Regular Drain Maintenance

To prevent future drain blockages, it’s important to maintain a healthy drain system. Avoid pouring grease and oil down the drain, and use a drain strainer to catch food debris and hair. Regularly pouring hot water down the drain can also help dissolve any buildup and keep the drain clear.

Professional Help: When to Call a Plumber

While snaking a drain using a plumber’s snake is a DIY solution to unclog drains, there are times when it’s best to seek professional help. Here are some signs that your drain blockage may require the expertise of a licensed plumber:

  • The clog is not responding to DIY methods, including snaking with a plumber’s snake
  • Multiple drains in your home are clogged
  • There is a foul odor coming from your drains
  • You’ve had recent plumbing work done and are experiencing drainage issues
  • Your home is older and has outdated plumbing systems
  • You’re unsure of the source of the blockage and need a professional diagnosis

If you’re experiencing any of these issues or are unsure about snaking a drain yourself, it’s best to call a licensed plumber. They will have the necessary equipment and expertise to properly diagnose and fix the issue. Attempting to do it yourself can result in further damage and costly repairs.

Frequently Asked Questions

Still have questions about snaking a drain using a plumber’s snake? We’ve compiled a list of frequently asked questions to help clarify any lingering concerns.

Can I snake a drain myself?

Yes, snaking a drain is a DIY task that can be easily done with a plumber’s snake. However, it’s important to follow safety precautions and ensure that you choose the right type of snake for your specific drain blockage.

What type of plumber’s snake should I use?

The type of plumber’s snake you should use depends on the severity and location of the blockage. For small clogs, a handheld snake may suffice, while larger clogs may require a motorized snake. Consider the length and thickness of the snake before making a purchase.

Is snaking a drain safe?

Snaking a drain can be safe if proper precautions are taken. Wear gloves and eye protection, and avoid using excessive force when snaking the drain to prevent damage to the pipes.

Why isn’t my drain snaking working?

If your drain snaking attempts are unsuccessful, it’s possible that the blockage is too severe for a DIY solution. It may be time to call a professional plumber to assess the issue and provide a more effective solution.

How can I prevent future drain blockages?

Regular drain maintenance can help prevent future blockages. Avoid flushing non-degradable items down the drain, and use drain covers to catch hair and other debris. Additionally, regularly pouring hot water down the drain can help dissolve buildup and prevent blockages.


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