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Drain hopelessly blocked? Already pounded it with a plunger? Poured hot water + baking soda down there? Tried a caustic chemical cleaner? Straightened-out coat hanger simply not doing the trick? It sounds like it’s time to try one more thing before reaching for the number of a local plumber nearby: a drain snake.

Wait: a what snake? A drain what? Not to be confused with the professional plumber’s heavy-duty, motorised version – the powerful drain auger – a drain snake is a cheap, hand-held device you can grab at any decent hardware store to help unblock a drain. Visibly, they take a few different forms, but the working end of any drain snake is basically the same: a thin, flexible, coiled, elbow grease-powered auger that is hand-cranked deep into your drain to mash up whatever’s blocking it.

But let’s not obsess about what any one particular drain snake looks like, because they even have alternate names – including plumbers eel. Whether it’s a plumbing snake or a plumbing eel, how you get yours to smash up all that hair, oil, toilet paper, soap, scum, food and other drain gunk is basically the same. So without further ado, let’s dive into how to use a drain snake.

Luckily, using a plumbing snake is super easy:

1. Push the end in

At the end of the coil is the critical component – the auger. That’s what is going to chew through those wads of stubborn, compact drain gunk. You may need to take the drain cover off to access the drain, but once you do, it’s just a matter of pushing the auger into the opening.

2. Turn the handle

Your drain snake will feature a wound-up ‘snake’ of coil that is housed in a drum. You unwind that snake by turning the handle in the appropriate direction. Once you start winding, the snake starts slithering into the drain.

3. Feel resistance?

If the drain is clear, the snake should slither down there without too much trouble as you wind. Once you feel any significant sort of resistance, that could very well be the feeling of the auger end hitting whatever has clogged up your drain.

4. Keep winding – carefully

Now that the auger end is physically touching the blockage deep inside your plumbing pipe, keep winding just a little bit. Hopefully, the auger has now inserted itself into the blockage and already started to mash it all up. And even if it’s a solid object – like a barbie doll’s head shoved down there by your toddler – the rotating action could entangle the auger head around the object so that it can be yanked out.

5. Wind, unwind, wind, unwind

With a little bit of luck, the drain snake has already done its thing and your drain is flowing again. If not, this technique is highly effective:

  • Wind the drain snake through the blockage
  • Wind the drain snake the other way, back through the blockage
  • Repeat
  • Keep repeating.

Be mindful that if you feel too much resistance while you’re doing this, you could actually be mushing up not just the blockage, but your plumbing pipes themselves – so exercise caution. But as you wind and unwind, you should feel that the blockage is gradually being broken up.

What if your drain snake didn’t work?

Still struggling with your hopelessly blocked drain? Don’t stress! The kind of drain snake you buy for a few bucks at the local hardware store simply can’t compete with the powerful, highly specialised (and extremely expensive) professional plumbing tools like CCTV plumbing cameras, high-pressure water jetters and motorised augers used by plumbers every day. It’s also possible that something more sinister is occurring down your drain – like corrosion, leaks, collapsed pipes and other complex problems.

The solution? The friendly team at Ryan Old Plumbing can rush an emergency plumber to your location 24/7 with a fully-stocked van to check out what’s gone wrong with your drain and put it right – stat! For upfront pricing, guaranteed workmanship and a free plumbing inspection, get in touch with the masters of Brisbane blocked drains & Gold Coast drain cleaning right here at Ryan Old Plumbing today.