How to Snake a Drain So You Don’t Have to Rely on a PlumberPosted on: June 14, 2018, by : Amy Pecoraro
If you’re wondering how to snake a drain, chances are good you have a serious clog on your hands. Snaking a drain is a phrase that essentially means getting a stubborn clog to move out of your pipe so that your sink or tub will drain the way it’s supposed to. Dealing with a sink clog is a drag, but with the proper skills and tools you can get through it without having to call a plumber.
What you need to snake a drain
When a clog hits, the good news is you don’t need to buy many tools. A snake, available at most home improvement store, is all you really need.
A drain snake is a slender and flexible piece of plastic or steel that can be pushed down your sink drain to help move out a blockage caused by soap scum, hair, dirt, or other debris. It’s bendable, which helps it navigate the curves of a sink drain regardless of where the sink is: in your kitchen, bathroom, another room of your home, or even outdoors.
Signs you may need to snake a drain
So when do you need to snake a drain? The most obvious sign is when the shower, tub, or sink drains slowly. If your feet are submerged during a shower, you may want to break out the snake.
Another warning sign: persistent gurgling noises coming from the drain.
“Under normal circumstances, when the water flows unimpeded through the pipe, it shouldn’t make a lot of noise other than maybe a smooth, flowing sound,” says Doyle James, president of Mr. Rooter Plumbing. “However, when there’s a clog in the sewer or water pipe, water hits it and releases oxygen, causing bubbles that make noise and even release smelly gases.”
Speaking of strange noises, if the toilet starts making noise when appliances that use water stop or start, there may be a clog.
A stinky odor can also mean there’s a wad of goop accumulating in the drain. (Gross.)
How to snake a drain
- Remove the drain cover. Whether it’s a sink or a tub, most drains have a cover that is designed to catch hair and other debris. Moving this to the side will give your drain snake room to access the clog.
- Insert the snake cable into the drain. Rotate the handle. When you feel resistance, you’ve found the clog. Twist and pull the cable to break up the material in the clog.
- Hook the clog. Depending on the makeup of the clog, the snake may be able to hook the clog like a fishing hook, pulling it toward you. After you feel you have broken up the clog, pull the cable out and flush the drain with water to see if you’ve successfully removed the clog. “It may take several tries to push or pull the entire clog through your pipe,” James says.
Other methods for releasing a clog
Snaking a drain can help free up a blocked drain, but do you really need to grab a snake tool? Not always. If you don’t have time to hit the hardware store, you can try these options to get rid of that clog.
- A bent wire hanger: Use a regular wire hanger and straighten it out as much as possible. Bend one end to create a hook, push it through the drain, and start fishing. Once the clog is out, run the hot water, and the drain should clear up.
- Baking soda and vinegar: Concoct a mixture of one-third cup baking soda and one-third cup vinegar. Once combined, it will start to fizz. Pour it immediately down the drain, and the fizzing action will help break down the gunk, hair, and grime. Let it sit for about an hour (overnight is even better) and then flush it with hot water. You can also pour the dry baking soda down the drain first and chase it with the vinegar.
- Boiling water: This is probably the easiest tip of them all! Boil up as much water as your kettle will hold and slowly pour it down the drain in two or three stages, allowing the hot water to work for several seconds between each pour.
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