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How To Use a Drain Snake For Plumbing

Plumbing issues can be frustrating and disruptive, especially when they involve clogged drains. If you’ve tried using a plunger and chemicals but still can’t get your drain flowing correctly, it may be time to try using a drain snake. This handy tool is designed to break up and remove blockages from your pipes, restoring your plumbing system to normal. In this article, we’ll walk you through everything you need to know about using a drain snake for plumbing, including when to use it, how to choose the right one, and tips for effective use.

Understanding when to use a drain snake

Many homeowners turn to a drain snake when they have a clogged drain that won’t respond to other methods of clearing. A drain snake is especially useful for removing stubborn blockages that are caused by hair, soap scum, food particles, and other debris that accumulates in your drain over time. Some common signs that you may need to use a drain snake include:

  • Water draining slowly or not at all
  • Unpleasant odors coming from your drain
  • Gurgling sounds coming from your drain
  • Water backing up into your sink or bathtub

If you notice any of these signs, it’s a good idea to try using a drain snake to clear the blockage before it becomes worse.

Types of drain snakes

There are several different types of drain snakes available, each with its own set of advantages and disadvantages. Here are some of the most common types of drain snakes:

  1. Handheld auger: This type of drain snake is manually operated and consists of a coiled wire that is inserted into the drain. You turn a crank to move the wire through the pipe and break up the blockage.
  2. Closet auger: This type of drain snake is designed specifically for use on toilets. It has a long, flexible cable that can be inserted into the toilet bowl to break up blockages.
  3. Electric auger: An electric drain snake is a motorized tool that is designed to make the process of clearing your drain easier and faster. It uses a rotating cable to break up and remove blockages.
  4. Drum auger: A drum auger is a larger, more powerful version of the handheld auger. It is typically used for tough blockages that cannot be removed with a handheld auger.

How to choose the right drain snake for your needs

When choosing a drain snake, it’s essential to consider the type of blockage you’re dealing with, the size of your pipes, and your level of experience. Here are some tips to help you choose the right drain snake for your needs:

  1. Determine the type of blockage: If you’re dealing with a minor blockage caused by hair or soap scum, a handheld auger should be sufficient. For more severe blockages, an electric or drum auger may be necessary.
  2. Measure your pipes: Make sure to measure the diameter of your pipes before purchasing a drain snake. You’ll need a snake that is the right size to fit through your pipes.
  3. Consider your experience level: If you’ve never used a drain snake before, you may want to start with a handheld auger before moving on to more advanced tools.

Preparing to use a drain snake

Before you start using your drain snake, there are a few things you’ll need to do to prepare:

  1. Put on gloves and eye protection: Drain snakes can be messy, so make sure to protect your hands and eyes before getting started.
  2. Remove any standing water: Use a bucket or a towel to remove any standing water from your sink or bathtub.
  3. Remove the drain cover: If your drain has a cover, remove it before inserting the snake.
  4. Insert the snake: Carefully insert the snake into the drain, making sure it goes in as far as possible.

Using a drain snake – step by step guide

Now that you’ve prepared to use your drain snake let’s go through the step-by-step process of actually using it:

  1. Insert the snake: Slowly insert the snake into the drain, turning the handle as you go. If you feel resistance, gently wiggle the snake back and forth to break up the blockage.
  2. Rotate the snake: Once the snake is inserted as far as possible, rotate it clockwise while pushing it further into the drain. This will help to break up any remaining blockages.
  3. Withdraw the snake: Once you’ve reached the end of the drain, slowly withdraw the snake, continuing to rotate it as you go.
  4. Discard the debris: As you withdraw the snake, any material that was blocking the drain will come out with it. Discard this debris in the trash.
  5. Run water: After using the snake, turn on the water to see if the blockage has been cleared. If the water is flowing freely, you’ve successfully cleared the drain!

Tips for using a drain snake effectively

Here are some additional tips to help you use a drain snake effectively:

  1. Use the right size snake: Make sure to use a snake that is the right size for your pipes. If the snake is too small, it won’t be effective. If it’s too large, it could damage your pipes.
  2. Be patient: Using a drain snake can be a slow process, especially if you’re dealing with a severe blockage. Take your time and be patient.
  3. Use a flashlight: If you’re having trouble seeing the blockage, use a flashlight to get a better view.
  4. Use a plunger first: If you’re dealing with a minor blockage, try using a plunger first. This may be enough to clear the drain without using a drain snake.

Maintenance and care of your drain snake

To ensure that your drain snake stays in good working condition, it’s essential to take care of it properly. Here are some tips for maintaining your drain snake:

  1. Clean it after each use: After using your drain snake, clean it thoroughly with soap and water to remove any debris and prevent rust.
  2. Store it properly: Always store your drain snake in a dry, cool place to prevent rust and damage.
  3. Replace worn parts: If any part of your drain snake becomes worn or damaged, replace it immediately to prevent further damage.

Common mistakes to avoid while using a drain snake

Here are some common mistakes to avoid while using a drain snake:

  1. Using too much force: Don’t apply too much force when using a drain snake, as this could damage your pipes.
  2. Using the wrong size snake: Make sure to use a snake that is the right size for your pipes. Using a snake that is too large or too small could cause damage.
  3. Not wearing protective gear: Always wear gloves and eye protection when using a drain snake to protect yourself from debris and chemicals.

Conclusion – When to call a professional plumber

Using a drain snake is a cost-effective and easy way to clear minor blockages in your plumbing system. However, if you’re dealing with a severe blockage or are unsure of how to use a drain snake, it’s best to call a professional plumber. They have the experience and equipment necessary to handle even the toughest plumbing issues. With these tips, you’ll be able to use a drain snake like a pro and keep your plumbing system running smoothly.

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