How Does A Plumbing Snake Work?

What is a plumbing snake?

What does a plumbing snake do and what does snaking mean? Well, first, snaking means the plumber (or you) will use equipment that “snakes” through the plumbing and either pulls out a clog or pushes it on through. A plumbing snake (or auger) is a tool that plumbers use to reach down into clogged drainpipes. It is one step above a household plunger and one step below a roto-rooter job. 

Because they are plumber snake is more powerful than over-the-counter drain cleaners or the household plunger, they are harder to use too. If you aren’t careful, using a plumbing snake and snaking a drain can do more damage than good. So, how does a plumber’s snake work? 

The snake part is a flexible cable made of metal and is connected to an auger. The auger is like a drill and spins as it pushes that metal cable, snaking it, into the clogged drain.  The metal cable is uncoiling as it goes down the drain, usually 50 feet for a home-use plumber snake and pulls up whatever is clogging the drain. A professional plumber’s snake goes further than 50 foot. 

Can you snake a drain yourself?

Yes, a homeowner with DIY ability and confidence can definitely snake their own drains and toilet. Because it is a powerful tool, it is important to how, where, and when to use a plumbing snake. There are multiple videos online that can walk you through these steps: 

  1. Put on your old clothes and get some old towels around and under the drain you’ll be snaking. It shouldn’t get that messy, but it can, and it is better to be prepared than not, especially when removing the clog will require removing the P-trap. 
  2. Removing the P-trap could make the drain snaking easier to complete, so if you want, go ahead, and remove it now. Place a bucket under the pipe to catch any water or waste that may come out. You should be able to unscrew it by hand, but if not, use an adjustable wrench. 
  3. Next, remove the trap arm that is located between the p-trap and pipe going into the wall. It may have a curve at the wall but should come loose by hand or again with the adjustable wrench. By removing this, you’ll get a better access to the drainpipe. 
  4. Check the P-trap, the trap arm, and in both ends of the drainpipe, remove any obstruction that you see.
  5. Thread the auger head into the pipe by hand and then place the head of the snake in the drain or the wall pipe. If you put it in the drain, run cold water as you’re snaking.  Push with gentle force so you don’t damage the pipe. 
  6. Now, using the handle, uncoil the snake, keeping the handle close to the pipe entrance so that there is little slack for the auger. Keep rotating the handle with a steady pace and when you feel pressure in the drain, you’ll need to give it a little more pressure. 
  7. Moving the auger up and down, back and forth when you reach the obstruction should loosen and break it up so that it flows on through. The obstruction may get hung on the end of the auger. So as you pull the auger out of the drain, be prepared to clean it off. 
  8. Check the sink for any obvious signs of obstruction and then replace the trap arm and P-trap. Now check to see if the drain is working, which if the auger got the only obstruction, it should be clear now. 

Can a plumbing snake go down a sink?

Yes, following the steps we provided, you can usually do a successfully snaking to get a clear bathroom drain. The kitchen can be a little tricky because of what goes in the kitchen drain can harden, making it impossible for the snake to penetrate into the clog. 

At that point, if the P-trap wasn’t already removed, that needs to be the next step.  The job will definitely get messier at this point, make sure you have plenty of old towels in the area.  If removing the P-trap didn’t help, snaking the drain didn’t help, then you’ll need to call a professional plumber.  This may be more than clogged drain. 

Can a plumbing snake go down a toilet?

Yes, if a toilet plunger isn’t clear the clog, use a toilet auger or plumbing snake. The same metal flexible coil that is used on pipes to clear obstructions, all without damaging the toilet and its plumbing. 

Use the same process of snaking the auger end of the cable in the toilet bowl, being careful to not scratch the toilet bowl. Keep a slow steady pace of cranking and you’ll come to the clog. Then with a little bit of force, you can push the clog apart, so it flow on through or pull the clogging matter out. You can use the plumbing snake for bathtub clogs too in the same manner as with the sinks and toilet. 

What to do when a drain snake doesn’t work?

Call a professional plumbing service!  You’ve done all a homeowner can do on your own at this point. Anything more can cause damage to your plumbing, creating more expense. Call (818) 975-2131 today for your plumbing needs in Sherman Oaks, CA.