Make it a great day by contacting WM Buffington

Your local, trusted service company in Central Pennsylvania since 1952

How to Use a Plumbing Snake and When It's Necessary

Person using auger in a sink drain

Clogs can be a major hassle to reckon with. Our first instinct is to reach for a plunger to loosen the blockage. But what happens if that fails? If a clog is too big for a plunger to handle, it might be time to reach for a plumbing snake (also known as an auger). There are a few different types of snakes but in general, they are made from a spiraled piece of metal attached to a long cable. The cable reaches far into pipes to break apart or dislodge obstructions in your pipe. Read on to learn more about how to use a plumbing snake and when it might be necessary. 

When To Use a Plumbing Snake

Have you been struggling with your plunger to unclog your drain with no result? That probably means it’s time to break out the plumbing snake. If a plunger isn’t working properly on your clogged drain, sink, or toilet, that likely means the clog is too large to dislodge with pressure alone or it’s several inches or feet down your pipe. You’ll need more leverage to break it loose or pull it out. A plumbing snake can give you the reach and power to handle stubborn blocks.

How to Use a Plumbing Snake 

There are two main types of plumbing snakes a homeowner might use to loosen a tough clog; a cable auger or a closet auger. The cable auger houses the snake in a spool. The user can release it far into the drain using a hand crank. The closet auger houses the snake within a shaft. It often features an angled tip to better fit through a toilet trap. Both of these options require slightly different steps to operate. 

Using a Cable Auger 

Walk through the following steps to use a cable auger on a sink drain.

  1. Place the coiled end of the snake in the drain. Slowly crank the handle to unfurl the snake. Guide the snake into the pipe. 
  2. Continue to turn the handle until you feel it catch. If it won’t go any further, you’ve likely reached the clog.
  3. Rotate the snake so it will attach to the clog. This will allow the coil to either break it apart or pull the blockage up.  
  4. Crank the handle to reel the snake back up. You might pull up the obstruction.
  5. Flush hot water down the drain to wash away any of the remaining clog. If it’s still draining slowly, repeat the entire process until you remove the clog.

Using a Closet Auger

If you have a clogged toilet on your hands, follow these steps to use a closet auger. 

  1. Align the end of the snake to the opening of the toilet bowl. Keep the tip facing up so it can maneuver the trap properly. 
  2. While keeping the auger steady, slowly crank the handle to lower the snake into the pipe. Crank until all of the snake is released. 
  3. After you release the entire snake, reel the snake back in while pulling the shaft at the same time. 
  4. Test out the toilet to see if it will flush. If it doesn’t repeat the process a few more times to see if you can loosen the clog. 

When to Call a Plumber 

Sometimes a snake won’t even loosen a clog. If you attempt the steps listed above 3 times or more with no luck, it is likely an issue you’ll need to consult a professional on. Be sure to consult your trusted plumber once you’re sure a snake won’t do the trick. And whatever you do, never use Drano to unclog a pipe! 

Need a plumber in the Central Pennsylvania area? Call WM Buffington!

Avoid Drain Clogs 

In most cases, a clogged drain is avoidable. It’s important to be proactive about maintaining good plumbing. Remember, never pour oil, coffee grounds, or eggshells down your drain. If you can, prevent too much hair from entering your drains as well. A drain screen can help with keeping your pipes clear. 

Taking proactive measures to clear small blocks is important too. After heavy use, pour hot water down your drains to melt away stuck-on debris. You can also pour baking soda and vinegar into your drains for a gentle clean. If you keep up with proper drain maintenance, you’ll notice fewer issues with clogged pipes. 

Areas We Serve

linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram