If you have a plumbing clog, using a plumbing snake can be one of the most effective ways to resolve the issue. Since clogs occur when materials such as hair, debris, and other foreign objects get caught in the pipes, a plumbing snake can be used to unclog the pipes without any harsh chemicals that may cause other damage. This article will explain how a plumbing snake works and provide a general step-by-step guide on how to properly use one to clear a clog.
A plumbing snake, also known as a drain snake or sink auger is a flexible cable used to unclog blocked showers, sinks, and toilets. The cable is inserted into the drain opening and twisted or pushed down the pipe until it reaches the blockage. It then latches onto the clog and pulls it out, allowing water to flush through your pipes again.
Plumbing snakes are usually made from steel or another durable metal and are about ¼ inch thick, with a handle affixed to one end and an auger (a kind of corkscrew) at the other. Snakes can be operated manually, or, depending on the type you purchase, with the help of an electric motor. Some of the most popular and effective plumbing snakes on the market attach to any power drill making the process of removing a clog much easier.
Plumbing snakes will vary in length and width depending on the type and the size of the pipe it is intended to clear. Longer and thicker cables are often used to clear more significant blockages in large pipes, while smaller and thinner cables are best for clearing clogs in smaller and more delicate pipes.
Plumbing snakes are commonly used by professional plumbers when a traditional plunger cannot unclog a blockage. They are also suitable for do-it-yourself fixes, as they are easy to use and more effective than plungers. They are relatively inexpensive and easy to use, but they should be used with caution to reduce the risk of pipe damage.
When a plunger and chemical cleaner aren't doing the job to unclog the shower drain, you may want to consider using a plumber's snake.
The first step, before starting the process of unclogging a drain, is to make sure you have the right supplies. To snake a shower drain, you'll need a pair of gloves, a screwdriver, pliers, and of course, a plumbing snake.
After putting on your gloves, you’ll want to take the drain cover off. Be sure to take it off carefully to prevent breakage. Depending on the type of drain cover you have, you’ll likely need to use an appropriate tool to unscrew it. Next, insert the snake into the drain and continue pushing it down and uncoiling it further down the pipe until you encounter the blockage. Rotate and spin the handle clockwise while slowly pushing the snake until you catch and remove the clog. Attach your pliers to the end of the drain snake for added grip and torque. Once you have found and grabbed onto the clog, make sure to withdraw the snake carefully in order to not lose the debris.
Once the snake is out, you’ll want to check that the clog has been removed. To do this, run a small amount of hot water down the drain and check to see if it drains properly. If the hot water drains effectively, the clog was likely destroyed by the snake and your drain should be unblocked. If the water still doesn't pass through, or it only drains slowly, you’ll have to continue snaking the drain until the obstacle is completely gone.
When it comes to dealing with a clogged drain, chemical drain cleaners and plumbing snakes both have their advantages and disadvantages.
Chemical drain cleaners are the least expensive and often the quickest way to clear clogs. They include products like Drano, Liquid Plumber, and many other brands. Drain cleaners work by combining certain chemicals with water, which causes a reaction that heats up and eventually melts materials found in the clog. They are most effective for addressing clogs caused by dirt, grease, and soap residue.
Although chemical drain cleaners can sometimes be all you need to dissolve a tough clog, they must be handled very carefully as they can produce harmful fumes and cause severe burns if they come into contact with your skin. If you do decide to use a chemical drain cleaner, it’s important to use protective eyewear and gloves. Also, be aware that some drain cleaners are stronger and more corrosive than others so they can damage pipes if not used properly.
When deciding between chemical drain cleaners and a plumbing snake, it is important to consider the type of clog you are dealing with. If the clog is relatively soft, chemical drain cleaners might be able to dissolve it relatively quickly. If the clog is tougher, like a hair clog, a plumbing snake is probably the better option. However, keep in mind that a snake can be difficult to maneuver and in some instances, it may just push a hole through the clog instead of removing it entirely.
If all else fails, it might be best to just call a professional plumber to fix the issue. A professional plumber can look for any other underlying issues and offer you a more permanent solution, rather than a quick fix.
Sometimes what may seem like a quick, DIY project can turn into a big, costly, mess. Get your drain cleared fast, without taking chances, by calling WM Buffington for professional plumbing services. We service Harrisburg, Hershey, Highspire, and the greater Central Pennsylvania area. Give us a call today or fill out our online form and let us know how we can help!