A plumbing snake is a tool that removes clogs that block drains and piping. It is similar to a hose but has another purpose. A snake is made of a lengthy, flexible metal cable with a small uncoiled spring. As you use this tool, it uncoils down the drain, eventually reaching the mass clogging the pipe and causing the backup.
A plumbing snake is utilized when the obstruction is too significant for a plunger to solve. These plumbing tools can be used on tub and shower drains and are safe for kitchen and bathroom sinks. Toilets require a specific type of toilet snake, so it is not safe to use a classic plumbing snake for these clogs.
Steps for using a drain snake
Homeowners can rent a manually operated or an electrical drain snake at a low cost at a rental center or big box DIY store. While drain snakes are relatively easy to use, ask the dealer for operating instructions. Here are the steps to using a plumbing snake:
- Prod the end of the snake into the drain opening, turning the handle on the drum containing the coiled-up snake.
- Push the snake into the drain until you feel resistance. You may have to use more pressure when turning the handle, causing it to bend over the tight curve in the trap underneath the sink. After tuning the curve, the snake typically slides through easily until it hits the clog.
- Rotate the snake against the stoppage until you feel it f freely into the pipe. The revolving action allows the tip of the snake to affix to the clog, spinning it away or chopping it up. If the clog is a solid mass, the snake head attaches to the clog. If you don’t feel the snake breaking through and the twisting getting easier, pull the snake out of the drain, as this will likely drag the clog out.
- Run cold water for a few minutes, ensuring the drain is unclogged. The clog usually flushes down the drain; however, other times, the clog comes out connected to the snake.
Best practices for avoiding a clog
- Use a sink strainer.
A kitchen sink usually clogs because garbage or foreign objects enter the drain. Use a sink strainer to prevent debris and small items from entering the drainpipe.
- Maintain your garbage disposal.
As you use a garbage disposal, run cold water at full force while the removal is chopping the garbage. After shutting off the disposal, leave the water running for a full minute. This safeguard flushes the waste entirely out of the drainpipe and into the larger main drainpipe, making it less likely to clog.
- Avoid dumping materials down the drain.
Weekend handypersons or do-it-yourselfers often flush building materials down the drain, like plaster or drywall compound. While this doesn’t seem harmful, the materials can harden in the drainpipes, clogging them.
Plumbing issues arise, and we can often take care of them using a plumbing snake. If you have another plumbing issue, you may want your pipes and water supply assessed by an experienced plumber. Gene Wagner Plumbing is proud of being one of the best plumbers in Milwaukee. Check out our profile on Expertise. For more information, contact us or call us at 414-541-9217.