Snaking a Drain

Big Drain Drains are known for clogging whether it is inside the home or outside leading to the sewer system. Many people will call a plumber to snake a drain, but in many cases, you can do this yourself. There are two types of snakes that a plumber would use. They are the closet augers and the drain augers.

Most homeowners are familiar with the drain auger with the corkscrew on the end and a crank on the other end. The closet auger is a little different with an end that is rigid, which makes it easier to push down the toilet drain.

How to Use the Drain Auger

    Step 1

    Hand feed the drain auger cable into the drain until you feel the blockage. Then start cranking the crank to make the auger turn rapidly. This should start drilling away at the blockage. Pull back on the cable a bit and continue cranking while allowing the auger to turn into the blockage.

    Step 2

    As you crank the auger, you should be able to feel the cable break through the blockages. If you break through the blockage, bring the cable back out and some of the blockage material should come along. Have a rag and a bucket close by to put the material into.

    Step 3

    If you are having problems reaching the blockage and getting enough cranking, find a T in the pipes and insert the cable from the T. It is best to have a straight line to the clog to give you more cranking power. If you have no blockage in the main pipe, it may be in the main sewer line or vent and waste stack.

    Step 4

    If you still have a blockage, move to the sewer line and repeat steps 1 and 2. It is quite unusual for the blockage to be in the vent stack, but in some cases, it does happen. The sewer line is the first place to start.

In some cases, a sewer blockage that is outside the house can result because of tree branches growing into the lines. This may require a heavy-duty snake. The snake that is used to grind up tree branches and hard blockages is an electric snake auger. You can rent these at a equipment store.

These units weight about 150 pounds and will do the job on a sewer line. This type of auger is inserted into the sewer line by hand and can travel to the blockage. Once the auger cable stops, that should be the problem area. Get the snake auger some power and it will drill through the tree branches or whatever else is blocking the drain.

From time to time, a drain may become slow in draining. You can use the drain auger to clean out the drain, but sometimes the pipe becomes lined with a build up of slime and this makes the pipe smaller on the inside, causing a slow drain. You can use a drain snake while running very hot water.

You need to keep turning the snake all the way down the drain and back again. Using the closet auger will work better for getting the slime off the side of the pipes. If the problem persists, the section of pipe may need to be replaced, with PVC piping.

Photo by Shane Adams, Creative Commons Attribution License