Dealing with a blocked or clogged drain can be a frustrating experience. Whether it’s a sink drain, bathtub, or shower drain, blockages can disrupt the smooth functioning of your household plumbing. While there are numerous solutions available to tackle stubborn clogs, one highly effective tool is a plumber’s snake for unblocking a drain. In this article, we will guide you through the process of how to use a drain snake to unclog a drain, helping you restore proper water flow in no time.

Understanding the Need for a Plumber’s Snake

A plumber’s snake, also known as a drain auger or plumbing snake, is a flexible tool designed to reach and remove clogs deep within the plumbing system. It consists of a long cable with a coiled metal wire or auger at the end. The snake’s design allows it to navigate through bends and traps, effectively dislodging and removing debris causing the blockage.

Types of Plumber’s Drain Snakes

Before you begin unclogging a drain, it’s essential to know about the different types of plumber’s snakes available. There are two common types:

  1. Handheld Snake: This type is manually operated and is suitable for minor clogs near the drain opening. It features a handle at one end and a coiled wire at the other, allowing you to rotate and navigate it through the pipe.
  2. Electric Snake: Also known as a power auger, this type is ideal for more stubborn and deeper clogs. It operates using an electric motor, which rotates the snake, making it easier to maneuver and break up tough blockages.

Step-by-Step Guide on How to Use a Plumbing Snake

Follow these steps to effectively use a plumber’s snake and unclog a drain:

Step 1: Gathering the Necessary Tools

Before you start, gather the required tools and materials. You’ll need a plumber’s snake, a bucket or towel to catch any water, and rubber gloves to protect your hands during the process.

Step 2: Preparing the Area

Clear the surrounding area and remove any objects that may obstruct your access to the drain. If necessary, place a bucket or towel beneath the pipe to catch any water that may spill out.

Step 3: Inserting the Snake into the Drain

Insert the snake’s coiled end into the drain opening, ensuring it goes as far as possible. Slowly feed the snake into the pipe while maintaining a firm grip on the handle.

Step 4: Maneuvering the Snake

Once the snake is inserted, start rotating the handle clockwise. This motion helps the auger navigate through the pipe and break up the clog. Be cautious not to apply excessive force, as it can damage the pipe.

Step 5: Retrieving the Clog

As you rotate the snake, you may encounter resistance or hear a change in the sound, indicating contact with the clog. To retrieve the clog, gradually pull out the snake while continuing to rotate it. The clog should come out with the snake as you withdraw it from the drain. If the clog is particularly stubborn, you may need to repeat the process multiple times, gradually breaking it apart and pulling it out.

Step 6: Cleaning Up

After successfully removing the clog, run hot water through the drain to flush out any remaining debris. This helps ensure that the pipe is clear and restores proper water flow. Finally, clean up the surrounding area, dispose of the debris properly, and sanitize your tools.

Safety Precautions While Using a Plumber’s Snake

While using a plumber’s snake, it’s important to prioritize safety. Here are some precautions to keep in mind:

  1. Protective Gear: Wear rubber gloves to safeguard your hands from any sharp edges or unsanitary conditions.
  2. Avoid Chemicals: Do not use harsh chemicals in conjunction with a plumber’s snake, as they can create hazardous reactions and potentially harm you or damage the pipes.
  3. Gentle Pressure: Apply gentle and controlled pressure while rotating the snake. Excessive force can cause damage to the plumbing system.
  4. Proper Ventilation: Ensure the area is well-ventilated to prevent inhaling any unpleasant odors or fumes.

Alternative Methods for Unclogging Blocked Drains

While a plumber’s snake is an effective tool for unclogging drains, there are alternative methods you can try if the clog persists or you don’t have access to a snake:

  1. Plunger: A plunger can create suction to dislodge simple clogs near the drain opening. Ensure you have a good seal and vigorously plunge up and down to create pressure.
  2. Baking Soda and Vinegar: This natural remedy can help break down minor clogs. Pour half a cup of baking soda down the drain, followed by half a cup of vinegar. Let the mixture sit for a few hours, then flush with hot water.
  3. Boiling Water: Boiling water can be effective for small grease or soap clogs. Carefully pour a kettle of boiling water down the drain in stages, allowing it to work its way through.
  4. Chemical Drain Cleaners: As a last resort, chemical drain cleaners can dissolve clogs. However, exercise caution and follow the instructions carefully, as these cleaners can be harmful if mishandled or overused.


Using a plumber’s snake is a practical and efficient way to unclog drains and restore proper water flow. By following the step-by-step guide provided, you can confidently tackle clogs in your sinks, bathtubs, or showers. Remember to prioritize safety, consider alternative methods if needed, and maintain regular drain maintenance to prevent future blockages.

Frequently Asked Question

Yes, a plumber’s snake is suitable for most types of drains, including sinks, bathtubs, and showers.

Insert the snake as far as possible without applying excessive force. The aim is to reach the clog and break it apart for removal.

When used correctly, a plumber’s snake should not damage your pipes. However, it’s important to avoid applying excessive force or using it on fragile or corroded pipes.

Yes, you can prevent clogs by using drain strainers, avoiding disposing of grease or large food particles down the drain, and periodically flushing your drains with hot water and baking soda.

If your attempts to unclog a drain using a plumber’s snake or alternative methods prove unsuccessful.

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