How to Snake a Floor Drain

What You'll Need
Plumbing snake
Bucket filled with hot water
Flathead screwdriver or putty knife
Work gloves

By using a plumbing snake, affectionately known as a plumber’s helper, it is fairly easy to unclog a floor drain. Plumbing snakes can be rented from a plumbing supply store or other hardware store, so you are not required to purchase one. They are rarely needed and only used when a clog just won’t free up. If you have tried a number of home remedies to unclog the drain such as baking soda and vinegar and a hot water flush, a snake might be the last resort. Since floor drains are entirely hidden with the exception of the drain cap, there is no worrying about scraping porcelain such as with toilets and sinks. 

Step 1: Remove Drain Cap

The cap to the floor drain might pop right off without any tool. If you have to pry it up to move it out of the way, use either a flathead screwdriver or a putty knife to get between the cap and the rim of the drain. Once up, set it out of the way. 

Step 2: Try the Small Snake First

When you rent a plumbing snake, it often comes with several sizes of snake. They are essentially long metal cables. The business end is plunged into the the depths of the drain. The handle end is an auger. It is rotated which in turn rotates the business end of the snake to free up the clog. Try the smallest snake first, for that just might do the trick. 

Step 3: Insert the Snake

Wearing leather work gloves, insert the business end of the snake into the drain and feed it down as far as it will go. You should feel it when it bumps up against the clog. Push it into the clog a little then start turning the handle. The drain is probably filled with water above the clog. This will work to your advantage as it will push the clog away once it is broken up. Once the water drains, you will also know the clog is gone or at least is broken up. 

Step 4: Try a Bigger Snake

If the smaller snake is not doing the trick, remove it and insert the bigger snake into the drain. Turn the handle to break up the clog just like the smaller snake. One of these 2 cables will free up the clog. 

Step 5: Pour Water Down Drain

After you feel the clog break up and disappear down the drain, pull the snake out of the drain. Clean off any gunk that has attached itself to the business end of the snake(s). Coil them up and put them away in their carrying case. Pour a half-gallon of hot water down the drain to wash away any residue left over from the clog. Use the rags to clean up the floor around the drain. 

If home remedies don’t work to clean out a clogged floor drain, rent a plumbing snake from a plumbing supply shop and break up the clog the way the professionals do it.