How to Clear Drains with a Snake


No matter how careful you are with your drains, it will eventually get clogged.  The severity of course will vary significantly based on the level of care that you exercise on a regular basis.  So how do you clear your drains using a snake?

The Plumbing Snake

If you haven’t heard of a plumbing snake or seen one before, this is also often called an auger.  This is a relatively affordable plumbing tool that will “snake” you out of many potential plumbing problems.  It is made of a steel cable with a turning handle on one end and a tip that allows you to bore through blockage.

The cost would depend mostly on the size, length, and type of turning mechanism of the plumbing snake.  The 3/8-inch model, which is about 20 feet in length comes highly recommended for all-around plumbing use.  The shorter ¼-inch variant is also reliable for most home plumbing use.

The P-Trap

Sometimes, to ensure that the sink drain is free from blockage and clogs, you would have to clean the P-trap including the trap arm.  This portion of the drain is where coffee grounds and grease would commonly stick to.  Sometimes plunging would work, however, it is best to clean it out by disassembling the P-trap.

If your sink is clogged and water is sitting in it, make sure that you scoop or sponge it out to reduce what will go into the trap as you pull it out from the sink.  A bucket should be positioned underneath to catch wastewater and prevent it from spilling onto the floor.  Take a pair of slip-joint pliers to loosen the nuts holding the trap in place.  Take extra care to avoid bending, cracking, or damaging the trap assembly.

The nut between the P-trap and the trap arm should be unscrewed first before the one located at the bottom.  Once removed, clean out the trap thoroughly to ensure that all blockage is removed.  When reinstalling, hand tighten the nuts and secure it in place with a quarter turn of the pliers.

Snaking the Line

The next step (especially if there is no blockage in the P-trap and trap arm) is to snake the drain line.  How do you do this?  Pull out about 6 to 10 inches of cable and begin to feed the snake down the drain line by turning the handle.

Continue to feed the drain line with the snake until you feel that you have hit an obstruction.  Proceed by cranking the cable until it pushes through the blockage.  This becomes obvious once the cable tension drops.  Pull out the cable by turning it in a counterclockwise direction.  Make sure that you clean the snake as you are pulling it out.

A large chunk of the blockage may still be attached to the end of the snake.  Repeat the process until you no longer feel any blockage down the drain line.  End by reassembling the trap and running about 5 gallons of warm water down the drain to flush out the line.

Proper Maintenance

To minimize potential drain problems, do not abuse your kitchen drains.  This means never overloading the garbage disposal unit and keeping greasy food out of the drain lines.

Pouring half a cup of baking soda with the same amount of white vinegar down the drain and letting it sit for about 10 minutes will help ensure that leftover fat deposits do not sit in your drain lines.  Flush out the mixture with warm water.  This will also eliminate foul odor coming from your drain lines.

Undoubtedly, when it comes to proper maintenance of your drain lines and home plumbing system in general, the best way is to rely on experts like Scott English Plumbing.  Pick up that phone today and give them a call!

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