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5 Pro Tips on How to Use a Plumbing Snake

by | Jun 13, 2019 | Blog, Sewer Service

Prevention is always better than cure. Yet, sometimes, no matter how careful you are, you still have clogged drains. Like most homeowners, you may prefer trying to clear the blockage on your own, before calling the professionals. A toilet plunger generally clears toilets. It’s when it doesn’t work that you can try using a toilet snake. If you wonder what a plumbing snake is, it is a plumbing tool that breaks and removes clogs in drainage pipes.

It’s also known as a toilet auger or plumbing auger. It’s uniquely designed to flex and infiltrate a toilet’s tricky curves.  It’s here that it gets to clogs that conventional tools can’t reach. 

It not only works on toilets but clogged bathroom sinks too.  Don’t worry if you don’t know how to use a drain snake. It’s a process called snaking and these tips will help you out:

1. Don’t Use Excessive Force

Wear gloves and pull the snake’s handle up until the cable end is near the snake’s curved tube end. This is essential because it’s the curved part that enters the latrine.

Its coating ensures the snake doesn’t scratch the toilet. You can always wrap it with duct tape to prevent scratching if the plastic coating isn’t intact.

You know that the snake is in place when only its housing is visible, and not its cable end. Next, turn its handle. This makes the cable turn like a screw and gently moves the snake inwards.

It has to be done gently and not with excessive force because it increases the chances of the cable doubling back instead of moving inwards. You may have to reverse direction a few times for the cable to reach the blockage.

Do this by turning it clockwise until the cable doesn’t seem to be able to feed anymore. Then start turning it counterclockwise. Repeat until the handle reaches the snake tube top.

You know when the cable reaches the clog by its resistance. Now, force the cable into the clog and start turning its handle in the counterclockwise direction.

This is to retract and pull the snake out.  As long as you are careful, you shouldn’t damage the toilet bowl.  Some people prefer to have trained professionals take care of this matter instead.

2. Pull out the Clog

Examine what is collected, and make sure you pull out the clog, and not force it deeper into the pipe. Pushing the clog only complicates matters because the clog reaches deep into the pipe, and is no longer reachable.

Remove the cable and flush to check and ensure whatever was causing the blockage has passed and has been properly eliminated. You may have to flush a few times to free the clog.

You may sometimes have to repeat all the above steps. Once done, sanitize the plumbing snake before storing. Do this by rinsing the snake outside with a garden hose or leave it in the toilet and flush a few times with toilet bowl cleaner. It is important that you wipe the snake dry to prevent possible rusting while in storage.

3. Maintain Cleanliness and Hygiene

Besides disposing of the extracted clog waste, you have to keep your workplace clean and pipes protected in the following manner:

Cover and protect the floor around the toilet with some towels or plastic sheets. There’s a chance of dingy water splashing out as the snake works on the clog. Covering the floor prevents a second mess to deal with later on. Don’t forget to wash the towel after removing the clog, and to disinfect the floor.

Always wear gloves as a protective barrier between your skin and whatever you may find in the toilet. Toilets are full of germs; you don’t want to trigger some allergy or infection because of your negligence.

Have a trash bag ready to put any bits of icky clog material you find. You can then tie and drop the bag in the garbage once done.

Plunge the toilet a few times to remove any remaining clog remnants. Then pour some concentrated toilet bowl cleaner into the toilet and flush a few times.

The cleaner’s chemicals dissolve and whisk away residual remains in the pipe to give you a sparkling clean and sanitized latrine.

4. Preventive measures

You can save money and the hassle and expense of unclogging drains by preventing them in the first place. The following tips will prove helpful here:

Only water-soluble items like human waste and toilet paper can be flushed. Do not flush paper towels, Kleenex tissues, tampons, condoms, makeup pads, cardboard. This is because they will clog up the pipes you worked so hard to unclog. These materials were not designed to dissolve in the toilet.

There’s the chance of kids dropping toys into the toilet. So keep the bathroom doors shut if you have a kid at home and tell them it’s not a good place to play.

Keep a small garbage basket near the toilet for non-flushable waste like cardboard and makeup pads.

If you aren’t sure if something is safe to flush, it most likely isn’t.

With excess toilet paper being a common reason for clogs, try to reduce the amount you use. Use only as much as needed.

5. Use Multiple Bathrooms

To minimize overworking one toilet, use all the bathrooms in your house. Don’t stick to the same toilet every time you go to the bathroom. Flush twice if you think once isn’t enough.

It’s always better to nip a clog in the bud. Always look for signs of blockage first. There are a few symptoms that will help you identify a clogged toilet.

These include reduced water levels, bubbles in the toilet bowl water, slow refilling, and trouble flushing. This is when a plunger should be enough to dislodge the clog.

Remember, snaking is only for stubborn clogs. And with most toilets getting blocked in the drain’s first section, the snake can easily reach and clear the clog.

It’s when the clog lies beyond that point, like in the main sewer line, that you need a different solution.

This is when you would seek a professional plumber’s help. Drain snakes cost anywhere between a few hundred to a few thousand dollars.

So while it’s a worthy investment to have at home, the task of snaking drains is not so easy. It’s also a time-consuming job. If you feel you don’t have the time and patience but need to get rid of a clogged drain, you can turn to Marquez Plumbing for help.  They have the experience and expertise to handle any type of plumbing problem you have!

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