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How to Use a Drain Snake: A Beginner’s Guide


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Dealing with a clogged drain can be a real hassle. Whether it’s a slow-draining sink or a completely blocked toilet, a drain snake (also known as a plumber’s snake or auger) is a handy tool that can save you a lot of frustration and money. In this beginner’s guide, we’ll walk you through the steps of using a drain snake, share some essential safety tips, highlight common mistakes to avoid, and help you recognize when it’s time to call in a professional. These are just some of the ways we found on how to use a drain snake for your plumbing.

What is a Drain Snake?

A drain snake is a flexible, long metal cable with a corkscrew-like end that’s used to dislodge clogs in pipes. It’s a versatile tool suitable for various drains, including sinks, tubs, showers, and toilets.

Tools and Materials You’ll Need

  • Drain snake (manual or electric)
  • Bucket
  • Rubber gloves
  • Towels or rags
  • Safety goggles
  • Pipe wrench (optional)

Step-by-Step Guide to Using a Drain Snake

1. Prepare Your Work Area

Start by clearing the area around the clogged drain. Place a bucket under the drain to catch any water or debris that might come out. Lay down towels or rags to protect your floor from spills.

2. Wear Protective Gear

Put on rubber gloves to protect your hands from dirty water and potential sharp objects in the drain. Safety goggles are also a good idea to protect your eyes from any splashes.

3. Insert the Snake into the Drain

For sinks and tubs, remove the drain cover or stopper. Slowly feed the snake into the drain until you encounter resistance, which indicates you’ve reached the clog.

4. Rotate the Snake

Once you’ve reached the clog, rotate the snake handle clockwise. This motion helps the corkscrew end latch onto or break up the clog. Continue to push and rotate the snake until you feel the resistance decrease.

5. Retrieve the Snake

Carefully pull the snake out of the drain, continuing to rotate it to catch any remaining debris. Be prepared for some dirty water and debris to come out with the snake.

6. Flush the Drain

After removing the snake, run hot water through the drain to help clear any remaining debris. For stubborn clogs, you might need to repeat the process.

Safety Tips
  • Use the Right Snake: Ensure you’re using the appropriate type and size of drain snake for your specific clog and pipe type.
  • Avoid Harsh Chemicals: Don’t use chemical drain cleaners before or after using a drain snake, as they can cause splashes that may harm your skin or eyes.
  • Take Your Time: Don’t rush the process. Forcing the snake can damage your pipes or the tool.
Common Mistakes to Avoid
  • Not Using Enough Cable: Make sure to feed enough of the snake into the drain to reach the clog. If you stop too soon, you won’t effectively clear the blockage.
  • Forcing the Snake: Forcing the snake can damage your pipes or break the tool. If you encounter a tough clog, consider using a different attachment or calling a professional.
  • Skipping Maintenance: Regular maintenance can prevent clogs. Consider using a drain guard to catch debris and regularly flush your drains with hot water.
When a Drain Snake Might Not Be Enough

Sometimes, a drain snake isn’t enough to clear a clog, especially if it’s deep within your plumbing system or caused by a major issue like tree roots or a collapsed pipe. If you’ve tried snaking the drain multiple times without success, it might be time to call a professional plumber. They have specialized tools and expertise to handle severe blockages and underlying plumbing problems. You can get drain cleaning in Lake Orion Michigan or Tampa Florida. This can even go for unclogging a kitchen sink drain.


Using a drain snake can be an effective way to clear clogs and keep your drains flowing smoothly. By following these steps, you can tackle most minor clogs on your own, saving time and money. Remember to take safety precautions, avoid common mistakes, and recognize when it’s time to call in a professional plumber. A plumbing handyman can be a good call too.

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