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First Aid for Clogged Drain

Your plumbing system is one of the most overworked features in your home. It is a system that you know is there, but typically only pay attention to when something goes wrong. With so many things passing through your drain pipes, it is no wonder that the system can get clogged over time. Soap, grease, oil, shampoo, hair, tissues, food waste and everything that you flush down your drain can cause a buildup. Add calcification into the mix and there is a higher chance that you’ll end up with a clogged drain.

If you notice your sinks and tubs drain slowly, drain clogging is the probable cause. You can try to unclog the drain by yourself. One of the easiest tools to use is a drain snake or drain auger. It is simple and relatively efficient. You can either use a manual one or rent a motorized snake.

What is A Plumbing Snake?

A plumbing snake is a handy tool to have around the house that can fix minor clogging problems. It resembles a long steel cable with helix-shaped coiled metal wire contained in a drum near the handle. The gaps between the cork-screw like coils are broader at the terminal end. At the other end is a hand crank. The user turns the crank to get the helix to rotate as it’s moving through the drain pipe.

If the clog is dense but shreddable, the auger might be able to break it up to allow for a better, smoother flow of water. Other obstructions that are lightweight, like hair and lint could be snagged by the auger so you can pull them away. As you’re rotating the auger, it scrapes off oil and mineral buildup on the pipe’s interior walls.

How to Use a Drain Snake

Declogging a drain begins by inserting the terminal end of the plumbing snake into the drain. Push the snake into the clogged pipe. Rotate the drum handle clockwise so the snake coil is released. It will flail inside the pipe as you continue to rotate the handle. If there is resistance, you’ve reached the clog. You may have to apply more force to rotate the handle. As the snake moves down the pipe, it will break down the debris causing the blockage to increase the water flow. Some debris can be pulled away as they wind around the coil. To remove the snake, turn the handle counter clockwise. Run the water full force for a few minutes to make sure that the shredded debris is flushed through the pipe.

Pitfalls of Using a Drain Snake

Drain snaking is your first aid if other quick-fix measures such as using a drain cleaner or plunger does not work. It can easily clear up minor clog problems to increase water flow speed. However, there are limitations to its use.

  • The auger tip is small, thus the path that is cleared by the auger is only as wide at its tip.
  • While you can use a drain auger yourself, do be aware that you can also cause potential damage to your pipe. If your home is quite old, you might have galvanized pipes. The end of the snake flails around as the handle is turned, which can scrape the sides of the pipes. When aggressive force is applied, the pipe can crack or if they are already weak, can completely break.
  • You have to be careful when using a toilet auger because the metal of the drain snake can leave scratches on the porcelain finish of the toilet bowl. Depending on the type of material beneath the porcelain layer, the scratches can lead to rusting.
  • Drain snakes may look simple but it can cause injury through improper use. The energy in the coiled wire can cause the drain snake to recoil and hit you. A motorized snake is more dangerous if you are not very familiar with its operation.
  • Because you do not know what is actually causing the clog, you are not sure if the drain snake is the right device to use. Parts of corroded pipes may be scraped off and add to the clog. There is also no guarantee that you are able to clear all the debris causing the blockage.

Snaking Drain Works, But Clog May Return

Snaking is an effective method to clear basic clogs to increase the flow of water through the drain pipes. But it is only a temporary fix. It can bore a hole through the clog, but since you are not sure that everything was removed, you might have another clogged drain in a few months. It is good to be able to fix a simple problem yourself, but sometimes the repair work is bigger so you need expert help from Fischer Plumbing. We will check your pipes to see if they are still in good condition and give a recommendation.


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