How to Properly Use a Plumbing Snake How to Properly Use a Plumbing Snake

What You'll Need
Plumbing snake
Work gloves
Clean rags or towels

A plumbing snake or plumber’s helper is a very useful tool for extremely clogged toilets. While less extreme measures can be helpful for removing smaller clogs such as using baking soda and vinegar with a hot water flush, some clogs won’t budge. Rather than call a plumber, learn how to use the tool they carry with them. Plumbing snakes can be rented as well. You should not have to purchase the tool as you may only use it once in a decade. When you do need it, however, knowing how to properly work it is necessary. 

    Step 1: Work Gloves

    Do not attempt to use the snake without wearing the proper work gloves that will allow you to grip the snake without slipping. Being a long cable, it can be difficult to get a handle on without gloves, and it could be painful as well. 

    Step 2: Prepare Your Work Area

    Whether you are clearing up a clogged sink or toilet, move any obstacles away from the area before you begin. Remove the drain valve from a sink. Rental plumbing snakes may have several sizes to choose from. If the job can be done with the smallest of them, it means an easier job, so start with that one. 

    Step 3: Feed Snake into Drain or Toilet

    The two ends of the snake are the handle and the business end. Another name for the tool is an auger because it is a boring tool for a drain. The handle turns the cable once in the pipe to free up the clog. Insert the business or working end of the snake into the drain and feed it through the pipes until you feel it come to the blockage. How far you have to feed it in will depend upon the position of the clog. If the small snake does not reach, remove it and insert a longer snake. Be careful when inserting the snake so the porcelain in the toilet bowl or around the drain entrance is not scratched.

    Step 4: Operating the Snake

    Once you feel the snake bump up against the blockage in the drain, begin turning the handle of the auger. The cable will begin to rotate. It is this motion more than anything that helps to break up the clog and free the drain. If the drain is dry down to the point of the clog, it may help to add a little water to the drain so the snake is not dryly rubbing up against the inner drain wall. 

    Step 5: Remove the Snake

    The water that you poured into the drain will let you know when the snake has cleared the blockage. You will probably feel the clog break up, but you may also see the water run down the drain, emptying the toilet bowl or around the drain. Pull the snake out of the drain and put it back into its case. 

    Step 6: Cleanup

    After the tool is back in its case, it’s time to clean up. Use the clean rags or towels to wipe everything down including the floor if it got dirty. 

    Now that you know how to use a plumber’s snake, anytime there is a serious clog in your drains you will be able to get it free and clear in no time.

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