How to Snake a Drain

How to Snake a Drain (Quick Unclogging)

How to snake a drain? Sometimes you need a quick fix to your slow-moving drain. Or maybe pouring boiling water down the drain doesn’t work anymore?

In the snaking process, you’d use the drain snake (also known as a drain auger, electric eel, or a toilet jack) to destroy clogs sitting down the drain. See these drain snakes.

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1. How to Unclog a Drain with a Snake 

A drain snake consists of a long coiled wire with a spiral spring, usually an inch thick with a handle on the other end. This tool`s working mechanism is the opposite of how a plunger operates.

Tools required: Hand gloves, Drain Auger, Pipe wrench or pliers or a screwdriver, and Towels or rags. The following are steps to be followed when snaking a sink drain.

1. First, you have to select a small drain snake that is handheld. This small drain snake has a round casing that houses the wire that is 25-50 feet long.

2. Assemble the materials and tools required for the task– You’ll need a bucket, a snake, towels/rags, a pipe wrench, and gloves.

3. Remove the P-trap (this is the curved pipe under the drain of your sink). Remove it using a pipe wrench.

Some P-traps are usually installed and may require hands to remove them. Place a bucket to collect water and other materials that may be trapped.

4. Place the drain snake cable into the pipe coming out of the wall – Drive it in until some resistance is felt.

In a clog case, the opposition will be squishy, but if the resistance is hard, that might turn, pull the wire, and push it again.

5. Move the handle in a clockwise manner-Once the resistance experienced is squishy; turn the handle of the snake so you can break the clog.

Turning it in a clockwise direction leads to some clogs getting dismantled while others are caught at the edge of the snake.

6. Retrieve the drain snake from the drain gently. This is done to prevent the clog from slipping back into the drain and place them into the bucket. Return the P-trap into its position and tighten the fasteners.

7. Run water down the sink to check whether the clogs have cleared from the drain.

When the operation is successful, the dislodged clog takes a few seconds to clear, after which water flows easily. If not successful, you can repeat the snaking operation or call a plumber for further assistance.

2. How to Snake a Shower Drain

Have you ever found yourself in the bathroom standing in a pool of water, trying to push the water using your legs? Embarrassing right?

Soap residues materials like hair in the bathtub may be the root cause of that blockage, and before you call a plumber, here are some tips on how to do the unblocking yourself using a snake.

  • Assemble all the required tools for the unblocking. You’ll need a snake drain, a screwdriver, hand gloves, and towels/rags.
  • Using a screwdriver, remove the cover of the shower drain to access the drain. After accessing the drain, place the snake’s end into the drain and drop it until you feel some resistance.

Once some resistance of the clog is felt, gently and slowly move the handle of the snake clockwise.

The clockwise movement helps move the clog further in the shower drainpipe while some materials get hooked on the snake.

In case of any increased resistance, that means you might have hit a bend in the pipe; that could also mean that the snake has caught more clogs; pull it back for a few centimeters, then return it as you turn it in the clockwise direction.

  • Remove the drain snake-Once you feel that the clog has been successfully hooked at the end, retrieve the snake gently and slowly.
  • This is done to ensure that the clog does not fall back into the pipe. Turn the snake anticlockwise and ensure the pipe does not get damaged, and no clogged materials are left behind.

Once the snake is fully retrieved, you can use your hands to remove the materials from the drain hooked on the snake; better still, you can use a towel/rag to avoid any harm on the hands and dispose of the unclogged materials in the bucket.

  • Ascertain that drain is unblocked by pouring water down it– The water will take a few seconds to drain, and afterward, the water will run quickly.
  • If the water does not drain quickly, then the drainpipe is still blocked. Repeat the snaking process until the clog clears. If the water still doesn’t run, you may consider calling a plumber for further assistance.

Related: How the drain cleaners work.

How does a drain snake work?

A plunger creates a vacuum to attract the material to loosen or break up a blockage; a drain snake is pushed down the drain to the blockage point.

  • There it breaks up the material, causing the blockage, which is hence flushed out.
  • The snake also assists in acquiring access to the clog, thereby pulling it out. Snakes may be manually or electronically operated.

Snaking involves selecting the right type of auger for the drain in question, and by the use of small skills and efforts, your drain becomes clear.

How to Prevent Drain Clogs

Here are some few tips to observe that will save you the agony of clogged drains:

  • You can use a screen tub in the bathroom to prevent the infiltration of unwanted materials into the drain pipe. The screen tub collects the materials the cause clogging, and hence you should be cleaning the screen tub occasionally.
  • In line with the prevention, you can ‘catch’ unwanted materials in the bathroom, including hairs and soap residues, using hands before they go down the drain. 


You can run hot water in the kitchen sink after use to keep oils off the drain, which causes clogging.

Also, waste disposal in a trash bin instead of the sink helps keep waste that causes blockages away from the drains.