5 Tips to Snake Your Own Drain

We’ve all had a drain back up on us at least once… Whether it’s the nasty hairball in the tub or the soggy leftovers in the kitchen sink, knowing how to properly snake your drain is important to keep back-ups and even worse from happening over and over!

We know that cleaning out the drain can be pretty gross, but leaving a plugged drain can make it harder and harder to remedy whatever may be causing the problem. Here are 5 tips on how to safely and properly snake your own drain without causing damage to your piping.

1. What you’ll need

Depending on the severity of your clog, you can try to use a metal coat hanger, but we don’t recommend that. It’s best to get a drain snake or hand auger. A ⅜ in., 20 ft-long model is great but most hardware stores will only carry a ¼ in. which is fine too.

2. Technique

Once you have your drain snake, it may seem straightforward—stick the springy part down the drain and twist—but if you’re not careful, you can actually do more damage than good. 

If you have a tub screen or a hair trap covering the drain, move it out of the way. Slowly push the snake cable into the drain and turn the handle clockwise as you push. If you have difficulty pushing, try holding the handle with both hands. While lowering the snake mechanism, alter your grip until it’s about two or three inches from the mouth of the drain – this will allow you to control your motion and get a better sense of the clog. 

You might hear a lot of scratching, or it might seem like the cable is stuck. At this point, you’re just reaching a curve in the pipe – just keep pushing past it. When you feel a lot of resistance, you’ve found whatever is causing your clog! It should give way a little, unlike the actual piping walls.

Once you’ve reached the clog, you need to hook it. While turning the cable clockwise, slightly pull up to see if it feels like anything is stuck on the snake. It should feel a little heavy. That’s ok; just keep twisting and prodding at the clog to break it up. You should break through whatever is blocking the piping, but if not, there may be a solid object that you’ve got hooked.

Slowly pull the snake out of the drain so you don’t lose the hooked clog. Be warned—it might be smelly! Continue pulling out as much debris as you can until the snake is free.

3. Use HOT Water

If the drain still seems to be clogged after you’ve snaked, boil a pot of water and slowly pour it down the drain. It may take a few moments to rinse away the remnants of the clog, but with this method, it should begin to drain quickly.

4. DIY Drain Cleaner

If nearly boiling hot water still doesn’t seem to be doing the trick, you can always add a half a cup of baking soda and one cup of vinegar to it, pour it down the drain, and see what happens. Allow it to sit for fifteen minutes. This method is known to be extremely effective so give it a shot! It’s also good to do this once a month to help prevent future clogs.

5. Call the Pros!

If you’ve snaked the drain, used boiling water, and tried the DIY drain cleaner and the clog is STILL giving you issues, it’s time to bring in an expert. There may be a more serious issue causing your pipes to back up, especially if you’re experiencing house-wide clogging. It’s literally our tagline… Gotta clog? Call the Dog! (509) 535-3447 for service in Washington, or (208) 649-9991 for Idaho.

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