How to snake a Drain

snaking a drain

Meet the drain snake, it is your second line of defense against clogged drains once the plunger has proved useless. The snake is a steel cable with a spring on one end and a crank handle. The cable is usually between 15 to 25 feet long. You can find a drain snake at the hardware store or rent one. This is the preferred tool of most plumbers. There are manual ones and mechanized ones.

When snaking a drain you need to know that the snake comes in different sizes and the size you use depends on the snaking job you will be doing. You can use a snake to:

  • Unclog a tub
  • Unclog a shower
  • Unclog a kitchen sink
  • Unclog a toilet

How to do it

First of all before you get started it is recommended that you have a pair of gloves, a bucket and obviously the snake cable. With those present you are good to go.

In principle, snaking follows the same procedure, you will push the snake down the clogged system until you find what is causing the clog and then begin to twist the cable using the crank until it either disintegrates the clog and pushes it down the drain or entangles it making it possible to pull it out and discard. With that principle in mind you can now learn to snake different drains.

Snaking a tub

Usually tubs are snaked through the overflow. The overflow is the hole just below the tub faucet. It is recommended though that you first ensure there are no hairs blocking the cross-hairs in the drain, as these do not really require snaking. Simply remove the stopper from the tub drain and clear the cross hairs. If this does not clear the drain then the clog is dipper in the drain and snaking is necessary. To do this you will need a thin cable of ¼ to 5/16 thicknesses. Any thicker and you risk damaging the drain line under the tub. Remove the cover for the overflow and push down the snake until it meets resistance. Once you find resistance, turn the crack gently but steadily until the resistance is broken down then pull up the cable and whatever was clogging the drain should be entangled on the spring or was disintegrated. You can then pour water down the drain to see if it is clear.

Snaking a shower drain

Unlike the tub, a shower is snaked through the drain hole direct but like a tub you will need a thin cable of ¼ to 5/16 thicknesses. Showers are usually clogged by hair and soap so snaking them is pretty easy. Push the cable down the drain while you run the water and keep on turning the crank until you meet resistance or until the water begins to flow through the drain with ease. If you meet resistance, turn the crank until the cable can slide through the drain with ease then pull it out and dispose of whatever you have found on the spring into a bucket. Pour water into the drain to ensure it is clear.

Snaking a Kitchen Drain

Snaking the kitchen sink can be done in 2 ways; you can do it directly from the top or from under the sink through the drain pipes. If you choose to do it from the top, push the cable into the drain opening as you turn it until you meet resistance, usually this is because the snake has met the curve in the pipe. You will need to apply more pressure so that it can turn and continue on its way. Continue to feed the line until you find more resistance. Rotate the cable against the resistance until it gives way. Usually what clogs a kitchen drain is food particles and this is broken down by the spinning spring. Pull out the cable and run water at full force to wash away the particles.

Snaking the Toilet

You will really need gloves for this one. Blocked toilets should only be snaked using an auger. Anything else is unsafe. Push the auger down the toilet throat as you spin the cable. Do this until the drain is clear. If anything is stuck to the spring when it comes out, you may want to discard it immediately.

Tip: Before you purchase or borrow a snake for your drain, inquire from the person giving it to you if it is the right one for the job you want to do and if there are any instructions on how to snake a drain, read and follow them. Happy snaking.