Some of the most common plumbing issues for residents of Arlington and the DFW metroplex are clogged pipes, toilets and drains. Fortunately, most clogs can be removed with a plumber’s snake or drain auger.

Typically, a plumber’s snake for household use is 25 or 50-feet long. It is basically a long, flexible metal cable with a wire shaped like a corkscrew on one end and a handle or crank on the other. This snake is used when an obstruction is too big for a plunger to handle but not so big that you need pressurized water jets to clear the pipes used by a professional drain cleaning company.  Here, we’ll cover the basics of setting up and using a drain snake to clear a clogged toilet or blocked drain.

Basic Drain Snake Set-Up

This can be a messy job, so be sure to wear clothes you don’t care about ruining and place towels under the pipes you are working on. The following steps are the basic way to use a drain snake:

  1. (Optional) Remove the p-trap. This is the curved pipe under sinks that connects a sink to the larger pipe system in a house.
  2. (Optional) Remove the trap arm. This is the part of the pipe between the p-trap and the pipe that enters the wall. This pipe is usually connected with a metal or PVC nut although sometimes it is glued in place. If it is glued, do not try to remove it.
  3. Put the head of the auger into the clogged pipe. If you didn’t remove the p-trap, then insert the snake into the drain. If you haven’t removed the p-trap, you may want to run a small stream of cold water while you snake the drain to help flush out whatever is clogging the pipe.
  4. Use the handle to uncoil the snake down the pipe. You want to keep the handle as close to the entrance to the pipe as possible. This is because the more slack in the cable there is, then the less effective it will be. It can also cause the head of the auger to bend back on itself when it reaches the clog.
  5. When you reach the obstruction, rotate the snake in a circular motion, and then up and down.  Try to break up the obstruction as much as possible. If you hear any scraping noises, slowly remove the snake and re-adjust, so you don’t damage a pipe. If the auger head is stuck in the obstruction, try pulling it out slowly. Sometimes the clog will come out with the snake. If there is no resistance, uncoil the entire length of the snake into the pipe.
  6. Coil the snake back up and remove it from the pipe. Remove any bits of the obstruction attached to the auger head and rinse it off. If you removed the p-trap and trap arm, you should reconnect them.
  7. Run water in the sink to check the pipe is clear. Turn on the faucet that runs into the clogged drain pipe that was cleared to make sure that it is draining properly. If it isn’t, you may want to try snaking the pipe again.

How To Use A Drain Snake On A Toilet

You will snake a clogged toilet in the same way that you would any other pipe. The primary difference is that you will want to use a toilet auger instead of a regular drain auger to do the job. These are different in that they won’t leave scrape marks in the bowl of the toilet.

How To Snake A Shower Drain

Most clogged shower and tub drains are the result of soap scum and long hair mixing together and are fairly easy to remove. Most shower drains have a 2 inch drain that goes straight down to a trap under the base of the shower. You will want to use a snake with ¼ or 5/16 inch thick cable, which should fit into most drains. Then you will use the snake in the same way you would on a clogged sink.

Using a snake to clear obstructions from pipes is a job people often can do on their own. However, if you’re having trouble snaking your drain and need a professional plumber in Arlington, give us a call at (817) 200-4703. The team at All Masters Plumbing are here for all your plumbing needs.

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