how to snake a drain

If you have a blockage in your commercial plumbing system that a plunger cannot clear and aren’t ready to give up, your best option is to snake a drain manually.

A plumber’s snake, also known as a drain auger, is a tool that “snakes” down into pipes to clear obstructions. To snake is a drain compromising between plunging, such as professional drain cleaning.


Before we discuss how to snake a drain, we must familiarize ourselves with the tool. One will need a coiled wire, also known as the drain snake, to snake a drain.

The standard method to snake a drain is to use this wire connected to an auger, which causes the wire to spin and move in the gutters.

An auger is usually a tool used to bore holes into things. For example, a drill Is a kind of auger. Most home plumbing snakes are hand-operated, using a rotating handle or crank to release and manipulate the cable to snake a drain effectively.

Another method that plumbers use to snake a drain is to use a motorized drain snake. These are similar to the manual ones but much more extreme.

The tool uses a motor to spin the coil, making sure no residuals of any kind are left in the pipes, but this method to snake a drain is mainly used when the clogging is very severe or for toilet drains.


  1. Because of the flexibility of the drain snake, it can bend and fold in commercial or residential plumbing systems without getting stuck.
  2. Begin to snake a drain by advancing the coil down the pipes until it finds the clog in the gutter.
  3. When it’s encountered the blockage, it collects and destroys any hair or built-up residuals because of the flexible nature of the corkscrew-shaped coiled spring at the end and the spinning of the auger.

snake a bathroom drain

Let’s Snake a Drain Like a Pro

Here are the main steps that professional plumbers take to snake a drain.

drain snake process


Put on an apron or work clothing since there may be a lot of splashing and overall messiness to snake a drain, the spinning coil, and the intensity of the blockage. Also, remember to lay down a towel or cloth beneath the space before you start to snake a drain not to get any grime or scum on the tiles.

You can check out different types of drain snakes and choose one for your next project.

gears for drain snaking process

The next step usually consists of removing the p-trap, but place a bucket underneath the drain if you plan on doing this.

The p-trap is a curved connection pipe connecting the sink drain to the primary drain system of the building. Its curvature is to remove any air bubbles and gas stuck in the gutter through the drain.

If PVC pipes are installed at your house, you can remove them with your hands or if your pipes are made of steel, using a wrench is most viable.

Starting to Snake a Drain

After preparing to snake a drain, it’s time to get started. Place the corkscrew-shaped end of the drain snake onto the pipe and thread it in to begin snaking a drain.

After threading the snake through your pipe, you can have a slow stream of the cold-water flow down the drain to help loosen up and clear all the built-up materials.

One thing to remember when you want to snake a drain is to not forcefully lodge the auger down the drain as you may damage the internal pipes, drain entrance, and the actual drain snake.

If the snake drain is too big for your drain entrance, you can either remove the entry or return your auger and purchase a more suitable option.

using drain snake to unclog bathtub

Snaking a Drain

After pushing the coil down enough that you encounter the clog, the next step to snake a drain is to start rotating the auger handle. This, in turn, spins the coil and its wider end to scrape the inside of the pipe.

While spinning the drain snake, remember to slightly push and pull the wire down to clear more materials, but don’t jam it there. If you hear a scraping or crunching noise at any point, stop immediately, check your pipe, reposition the coil, and start again.

Pull the Auger out

After snaking a drain for a while until you feel like the blockage has been removed or at least reduced. Slowly and carefully pull the auger out to avoid dropping the materials stuck to it back in the drain, resulting in another drain blockage.

Test the drain to see if the water is flowing steadily. If the answer to that question is yes, your gutters are unclogged. But if there’s still slow drainage, you can try to snake a drain again or use more heavy-duty tools.

Finishing Snaking a Drain

After reaching your desired outcome, reinstall the p-trap and ensure it’s tight to prevent leaks. Put the drain entrance back if you’ve removed it, and check the water drainage one last time.

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