How to Snake a Toilet

Lead Image
  • 1-2 hours
  • Intermediate
  • 50-80
What You'll Need
Plumber’s snake
Rubber gloves
Container for water

Among the more helpful and frequently used skills you can learn is the ability to snake a toilet. Clogged toilets will happen. Especially with children in the home, it is almost inevitable. At times, you can unclog just by using a plunger, but what if the plunger alone doesn't fix the problem? Then, you either call a plumber and pay their fees or snake the drain yourself. To snake a toilet successfully, you will need to use certain tools, materials, and procedures.

Step 1 - Try to Determine the Cause of the Clog

After finding that the water in your toilet will not flow out into the drain, your first step should be to try plunging. If water is present in your toilet bowl, try plunging without flushing the toilet as it could very well cause your toilet to overflow onto the bathroom floor. If plunging is successful and the water begins draining, you may have solved the problem. If the toilet bowl water continues to back up, try to determine what may be causing the obstruction. The most obvious and usually most successful way is to ask members of your family (especially children) if they attempted to flush things down the toilet, such as toys.

Step 2 - Choose the Best Snake

If you need to obtain a snake, be sure you get one with a smaller turning head; otherwise, you risk breaking a drain pipe. Begin with the small snake head, only moving to a larger one if you are unable to unclog your toilet. Be sure to take care in the way you use it. Don't push it or turn it too forcibly. Also, be sure you get a drain snake that is mean for toilets—not kitchen sinks—or the auger could end up scratching the porcelain bowl.

Step 3 - Start Your Snake

To begin using your snake, put on your rubber gloves, unwind 3 to 4 feet of cable from the winding spindle, and place the snake head into the opening at the bottom of the toilet bowl. Water in the toilet bowl will help flush away any pieces that end up breaking loose from the clog, so if there isn’t any water, pour some in before you continue and do not flush.

Turn the snake handle in a clockwise motion. Turn the handle slowly but firmly at first, until you feel it begin to bind. As you turn it, the snake should find its way down the drainpipe without you forcing it.

Step 4 - Break the Clog

As the snake head makes it way along the drainpipe and comes in contact with the clog, you will feel resistance to turning the handle. When this happens, wind the snake back. You will likely bring up debris from the clog, allowing you to see what was causing it. If you pull some debris out, the clog will also likely begin to break apart. Try working the snake head back down the drain to the clog again, turning the handle to break loose more of the clog. Again, wind the snake back when you meet resistance. Continue using this procedure until the water in the toilet bowl drains freely.