Friday, December 8, 2023

How to Use a Plunger and Snake for Drain Cleaning

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In this article, we will explore two essential tools for dealing with common plumbing issues: the plunger and the snake. A clogged drain can be a major inconvenience, but with the right knowledge and equipment, you can resolve the problem quickly and effectively. We’ll guide you through the step-by-step process of using a plunger and a snake to clear out clogs in your drains.

Understanding the Basics

Types of Clogs

Clogs in your drains can vary widely, ranging from minor obstructions to more severe blockages. It’s crucial to distinguish the type of clog you’re dealing with before selecting the appropriate method for clearing it. Understanding the nature of the clog will help you tackle the issue effectively and efficiently.

When to Use a Plunger

A plunger is an effective tool for dealing with minor clogs caused by organic matter or toilet paper in toilets and sinks. It creates suction to dislodge the obstruction.

When to Use a Snake

A snake, also known as a drain auger, is ideal for tackling more stubborn clogs located deeper in the pipes. It’s especially useful for removing hair, soap scum, or foreign objects.

How to Use a Plunger

Selecting the Right Plunger

Choose a plunger with a rubber cup for sinks and tubs and a flange for toilets. The right plunger will create a proper seal.

Preparing the Area

Clear the area around the drain, ensuring there is enough water to cover the cup. Fill the sink or toilet bowl with enough water to submerge the plunger.

Plunging Technique

Place the plunger over the drain and press it down firmly. Create a tight seal, and then push and pull the plunger in a rhythmic motion. The suction effect should dislodge the clog.

Repeating the Process

If the clog persists, repeat the plunging process several times until the water flows freely. Be patient and persistent.

How to Use a Snake

Choosing the Right Snake

Select a snake of appropriate length and diameter for the type of drain you are unclogging. Make sure it’s long enough to reach the clog.

Preparing the Snake

Extend the snake down the drain, turning the handle clockwise as you go. When you feel resistance, you’ve likely reached the clog.

Snaking Technique

Turn the snake handle counterclockwise to break through the clog. Push and pull the snake to dislodge the obstruction. Keep doing this until the water flows freely.

Removing the Clog

Once the clog is cleared, carefully pull the snake out, wiping it clean as you go. Dispose of any debris properly.

Safety Precautions

Protecting Your Hands

When handling a plunger or snake, it’s important to wear gloves. This not only helps maintain hygiene but also prevents direct contact with dirty water and debris. Gloves provide a protective barrier, ensuring that your hands stay clean and safe during the drain-cleaning process.

Avoiding Chemical Drain Cleaners

It is advisable to steer clear of harsh chemical drain cleaners. These chemical products can not only be detrimental to your plumbing pipes but also pose environmental hazards. Opt for more eco-friendly and less corrosive alternatives when addressing clogs in your drains.

Maintenance and Prevention

Regular Drain Maintenance

To prevent future clogs, perform regular drain maintenance by using a plunger or snake as needed and avoiding the accumulation of hair and debris.

Common Causes of Clogs

Understand the common causes of clogs, such as hair, soap scum, grease, and foreign objects, and take measures to minimize their presence in your drains.

FAQs about Using a Plunger and Snake for Drain Cleaning

Do you run water while snaking a drain?

Running water while snaking a drain can be helpful. It allows you to identify when the clog is cleared because the water will flow freely. However, in some cases, it’s best to use the snake first without water to avoid splashing or making a mess.

How do you clear a clogged drain with a plunger?

To clear a clogged drain with a plunger, follow these steps:
Ensure you have the right plunger for the job.
Create a seal by placing the plunger over the drain.
Push and pull the plunger in a rhythmic motion.
Repeat this process until the water starts flowing freely.

Will a snake help unclog a drain?

Yes, a snake, also known as a drain auger, is an effective tool for unclogging drains. It can reach and dislodge stubborn clogs that a plunger may not be able to handle. When used correctly, it can be a highly effective solution.

How do you get a snake past the P-trap?

To get a snake past the P-trap, extend the snake into the drain and keep turning the handle clockwise. When you feel resistance, gently push and pull the snake to navigate it past the P-trap. Be patient and persistent, and the snake should make its way through.

Why can’t I get the snake to go down the drain?

If you’re having trouble getting the snake to go down the drain, ensure you’ve selected the right type of snake for your drain. Also, check that the snake is long enough to reach the clog. Sometimes, it may require a bit of maneuvering to navigate past bends and obstacles in the pipe.

Can you snake a drain without removing the P-trap?

In many cases, you can snake a drain without removing the P-trap. The P-trap is designed to prevent sewer gases from entering your home, and it’s usually not the primary location of clogs. Snaking can often bypass the P-trap and reach the clog further down the drainpipe. If the clog is within the P-trap, you may need to remove it for access.


In this article, we’ve covered the basics of using a plunger and a snake for drain cleaning. These essential tools can help you tackle clogs of varying severity, allowing you to maintain a smoothly flowing plumbing system. Remember to exercise caution and follow the outlined techniques for effective drain cleaning.

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