Unclog a Drain Using a Snake when Drano Doesn't Work
Edited by Nerissa Avisado, Eng, Lynn, Jen M and 3 others
Just as into each life - some rain must fall; into each life - some drains will stall. When your drain is clogged, and the plunger doesn't work, people usually resort to dumping drain cleaner (or some other potent combination of chemicals) into the drain, praying for a miracle. However, this approach isn't always successful. When the chemicals fail, unclogging the drain will mean either paying for professional services or learning to use a snake. Keep reading to learn how to use this tool that in crucial moments, is a miracle worker.
- 1 Getting to Know the Snake
- 2 Types of Snakes or Augers
- 3 Getting Started
- 4 Tips and Warnings:
- 5 Questions and Answers
- 6 Comments
Getting to Know the Snake
If you've made up your mind to tackle this problem yourself, the first thing you need to do is purchase a plumber's snake or auger. Used to dislodge difficult clogs in the plumbing that can't be loosened with a plunger. A plumber's snake, also called a "toilet jack" or "electric eel", is a slender, flexible auger. It is a length of coiled wire with spaces between the coils on one end, while the other end is attached to a crank or a grip with a trigger that will automatically release the coil. Basically the snake works in three ways.
- As the wire moves down the pipe, the crank to which it is attached makes the wire rotate so the auger end (with spaces between) burrows into the clog the way a corkscrew would. Once the auger has latched onto the gunk blocking the pipe, the object can be retrieved it when the wire is wheeled up.
- There are times that the auger will break the object into smaller pieces so that it can drain naturally. This is what usually happens when the clog is made up of Styrofoam or plastic objects.
- Sometimes the clog is caused by mineral deposits, chemical residue, or solidified fats that narrow the drain's inner diameter. These are scraped off as the auger rotates down the pipe.
Types of Snakes or Augers
Plumber's snakes or augers can be classified according to the size of the drain they'll be used to unclog, and the length needed to reach the clog. In general, plumber's snakes can fall under the following classifications:
- 2Closet Augers.Advertisement
- 3Drum Augers.
For home use, it's unlikely you'll need anything longer than a 10-foot snake for getting rid of clogs in sinks and bathtubs. Follow the steps below to unclog the drain in your sink or bathtub.
- 1Get your materials together. You will need a plumber's snake with a trigger, if possible, and a bucket, well-fitting rubber cleaning gloves, old newspapers, rags or towels.
Tips and Warnings:
- Never dump solid things, no matter how fine, into the drain. This includes stubble from shaving.
- Use a drain screen in all the sinks and tubs.
- Do not throw grease or used oil into the drain. Grease and oil can solidify and harden trapping other miniscule solids until you have a great big clog that will be hard to resolve.
- If you have put grease down your drain, run hot water to wash it down. Hopefully, it won't solidify.
- Avoid throwing solids and fats, even if you have a garbage disposal unit, into your sink. Some of the garbage the unit grinds becomes residue that will gradually build up along your pipes.
- Use home remedies to clear your drains once a month to make sure they never clog.
- Don't use the wrong auger. A small auger used on a toilet, for instance, may become tied up in knots and end up damaging the bowl.
- Always look for a drain trap. It might be easier to work from that end.
Questions and Answers
The clog is behind the wall, should I run the snake behind the wall or will it get stuck?
Put Draino in the drain and it didn't go down, before that I took the pipes lose to the wall and ran a small plastic snake in and that didn't work. I have a longer metal snake should I use it? The water is looking rusty
The rust only means that the water has been there for some time and that the pipes are possibly made of metal. Drano Gel Max might have not reached the clog itself. Please note, a metal cable is recommended, as it allows different thicknesses and lengths.
If adding more water to the pipe and trying the plunger didn't work:
- Assess the possible clog material to give you an idea on the attack you'll take.
- Assess the number of cross pipes before the clog (your cable or snake may take the wrong turn and avoid the clog).
- Assess the material of the pipe (you may damage thin plastic pipes with a thick metal cable or snake; in your case, I understand it's a metal pipe.
- Assess the distance to the clog to determine what length of snake you'll need.
Take the appropriate cable or snake with the required length, material, and thickness. The thinner the snake is, the easier it is to push through, but the harder it is to control.
As soon as it becomes hard for you to push in, it is either a turn in the pipe or the clog. Push in as far as you can, add more Drano Gel, and wait for several hours, depending on the strength of the clog.
Sometimes, it takes me several days to clean a sawdust clog. I usually use a thick metal cable, the one that cranes use, and push it in with full force, trying to move it to the sides as well every several hours.
If several days pass and you still cannot clean it, you might want to call the plumber or disassemble pipes surrounding the clog.
I have a clogged garbage disposer drain.
I used Drano Gel max about 5 hours ago...still nothing. I know the clog is in the cross pipe which runs straight from the disposal to the larger drainpipe. We tried the plunger first, that didn't work. Now the clog is in there and I don't know what to try next? Please help with this clogged garbage disposal drain pipe.
If you are using the standard double-sink piping, then in order to clean this clog, you will have to detach the garbage disposal unit and run the snake in the pipe leading to the cross section.
Make sure the snake will run down the pipe when it hits the cross section. You can either turn it or push it from above with another snake, although that doesn't work very well.
You can also try cleaning the clog from the trap, or the clean-out hole located further down the pipe that goes down from the cross section at the U-turn. Go in both directions from there, both back to the cross section and further up the pipe.
You may want to disassemble the appliance with two basins if you cannot push through the clog, depending on the clog material, size, and the state of the pipes.
How do we prevent blocking? We put the snake about half way down.
We have removed the toilet and are using a snake to try to unclog the toilet to prevent backing up of the water, but it doesn't seem to be working. It seems like the snake can't get past the blockage. If it did the water would have receded. But it hasn't yet.
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