How to Unclog a Drain with a Snake or Drain Auger

A clogged drain? What a pain! Luckily, dislodging clogged drains is inexpensive and simple using a drain snake or auger. These plumbing devices are long, flexible (some might say snake-like) metal coils that go into the drain pipe and push or pull the obstruction out. You can use them for bathroom or kitchen sinks, showers, and tubs, and they’re a much better option than using liquid drain cleaners. It’s pretty easy to do yourself! We’ve outlined the steps here:

What You’ll Need When Cleaning a Clogged Drain 

It might be obvious, but the first tool you’ll need is a drain snake or auger. In addition to that, it’s good to have a bucket to catch any water that may spill, a rag to clean up messes, and a pipe wrench or pliers for removing the trap arm (if you’re working on a sink drain).

Remove the P-Trap

The P-trap arm is the section of pipe between the sink and the wall. Use your pipe wrench or pliers to remove this. There will likely be a bit of water in it, so have your bucket and rag nearby to minimize the mess. 

Thread the Coil into the Pipe

Once the P-trap has been removed, you’ll put the end of the snake or auger into the exposed drain pipe end. If you’re working to unclog a shower or bathtub, you’ll simply insert the cable into the drain. 

Use Gentle Pressure

Some snakes and augers have a crank on the end. If yours does, you’ll begin to crank the handle and guide the cable through the pipe. If it doesn’t have a crank, you’ll push it through with your hands. You want to be gentle! If you feel the end of the tool scratching the side of the pipe, pull it out and reposition. 

You’ll probably feel a bit of resistance whenever the pipe curves. That’s normal, just push a little harder. 

Push or Pull the Obstruction

You’ll know when you’ve hit whatever is clogging the drain pipe. Sometimes, it’s a matter of pushing it through, and sometimes, it will get stuck on the end of the cable and come back when pulling the snake out. 

If the obstruction is stuck on the cable, remove it with your fingers and toss it in the garbage. Don’t attempt to put it back down the drain!

Reassemble the Pipe and Flush It Out

If you think you’ve cleared the pipe, put the P-trap back in place and run hot water down the drain for a few minutes. This will show you whether or not you were successful. If the water is still draining slowly (or not at all), you may not have removed the entire obstruction. Remove the P-trap and try again. 

Prevention Is Key

The best way to avoid clogged drains is to be careful about what goes down them. Using a hair catcher or sink strainer can prevent unwanted materials from heading down the drain pipe. 

Call the Experts 

If using an auger or snake isn’t working, you might have a more complex clog, and it’s time to call for help. Our expert technicians will take a look at the drain and pipes, assess the problem, explain what needs to be done, and then quickly address it for you. Contact us today to book our plumbing services!