How to Snake a Tub Drain

What You'll Need
Plumbing snake kit
Work gloves
Clean rags
Baking soda

Snaking a tub drain is a surefire way to unclog it without having to call in a plumber. Plumbing snakes are available for rent. They're tools used by plumbers, so doing the job yourself is, in effect, working like a pro. Since plumbing snakes are not often needed, it doesn't make much sense to purchase one. That's why they're available from a plumbing supply store or perhaps a specialty home improvement store. If you have tried everything else to unclog the tub drain, but nothing has worked, a plumbing snake is the last resort. 

Step 1: Choose the Right Size Snake

Rental plumbing snakes often come in a kit with a couple of different sized snakes. Depending on the size of the drain and the extent of the clog, one may work better than the other. Tub drains in homes usually are not that big, so the smaller snake should do the trick. If you find it to be inadequate for the job, remove it and try the bigger snake. 

Step 2: Insert the Snake

A plumbing snake is also called an auger. At one end it has a handle that you turn. Doing so rotates the business end of the snake, which works to break up the clog. Remove the drain cap. Wearing work gloves, unwind the snake and feed it into the drain until you feel it bump up against the obstruction. Push the business end as far into the clog as it will go. 

Step 3: Turn the Handle

Once inserted, start turning the handle of the snake. This will in turn rotate the other end. Continue turning the handle until you feel the clog start to break. up. If water is backed up behind the clog, it will start to drain as the clog gets broken up. If it drains but you don't hear the characteristic sound of a completely unclogged drain, the obstruction may only be partially broken up. 

Step 4: Pour in Hot Water

Fill the bucket with extra hot water and pour it down the drain. This will help to further break up the clog, as well as provide you with an indicator of your progress. If the water doesn't immediately drain, the clog is still there. Pull the snake slightly towards and reposition it against the clog until you feel it grab. Rotate the handle once more. 

Step 5: Another Rush of Water

When the water drains a second time, fill up the bucket again with hot water and pour it down the drain. If it drains quickly, the clog is done for. Plus, the water will help wash out the drain. You might finish by pouring a cup of baking soda down the drain, followed by a cup of vinegar. After a couple of minutes, pour another gallon of hot water down the drain. 

Remove the snake, clean off the business end, coil it up and put it back in its case. Use the clean rag to clean up around the drain, rinsing any gunk down the drain. Any big pieces you pull up, throw away in the garbage. Replace the drain cover, and your tub drain should be free and clear.