Did you know that drain clogs are a common plumbing issue that homeowners face? In fact, a survey conducted by the Plumbing Manufacturers International revealed that clogged drains account for up to 20% of all plumbing service calls in Canada. When faced with stubborn clogs, having the right tools can make all the difference.

Key Takeaways:

  • A plumbing snake, also known as a drain snake or auger, is a must-have tool for unclogging drains.
  • It works by inserting a flexible coiled wire into the drain pipe and either breaking up the clog or pulling it out.
  • Understanding how a plumbing snake works can help you effectively clear stubborn clogs in your drains.
  • Different types of drain snakes are available, such as power augers, cable drain augers, flat tape augers, and toilet augers.
  • Using a drain snake yourself can save you time and money, but it’s important to follow the proper steps and techniques.

Why Do Drain Pipes Clog?

Drain pipes can become clogged for various reasons. Common culprits include the accumulation of dirt, hair, soap scum, and skin flakes, which can flow down the drain and build up over time. Flushing non-flushable materials like baby wipes, cotton swabs, and feminine hygiene products can also lead to clogs. Additionally, pouring oil, fats, and grease down the kitchen sink can cause these substances to stick to the interior of the pipes and contribute to blockages.

To better understand the causes of drain pipe clogs, let’s take a closer look:

Accumulation of Debris

Over time, drain pipes can accumulate various debris like dirt, hair, soap scum, and skin flakes. These materials are often washed down the drain during everyday activities and can gradually build up, narrowing the pipe’s diameter and obstructing the flow of water.

Non-Flushable Materials

Many people mistakenly flush non-flushable materials down the toilet or wash them down the sink, leading to clogs in the drain pipes. Items such as baby wipes, cotton swabs, and feminine hygiene products do not break down easily and can get caught in the pipes, causing blockages.

Oil and Grease

Pouring oil, fats, and grease down the kitchen sink may seem convenient, but it can have detrimental effects on drain pipes. These substances can adhere to the interior surfaces of the pipes, forming layers that trap other materials and create stubborn clogs.

Preventing Drain Pipe Clogs

To prevent clogs in your drain pipes, it’s essential to be mindful of what goes down the drain. Avoid flushing non-flushable materials and dispose of them properly in the trash. Additionally, make sure to dispose of oil, fats, and grease in designated containers instead of pouring them down the sink. Regular maintenance, such as cleaning or snaking the drains, can also help prevent the accumulation of debris and maintain the smooth flow of water.

By understanding the common causes of drain pipe clogs and taking preventive measures, you can keep your plumbing system running smoothly and avoid costly repairs.

Common Ways to Clear Drains

When faced with a clogged drain, there are several common methods you can try before calling a professional plumber. These methods involve using plungers, accessing the U-pipe under bathroom and kitchen sinks, and attempting home remedies. Let’s explore each of these options:

1. Plungers

Plungers are versatile tools that can be used to create suction and dislodge clogs from various types of drains. Two types of plungers are commonly used: hand plungers and toilet augers. Hand plungers are suitable for sinks, bathtubs, and showers, while toilet augers are designed specifically for unclogging toilets. By applying pressure and repeatedly plunging the affected drain, you can often break up and remove the clog.

2. U-Pipe

If the clog is located under the bathroom or kitchen sink, you can manually unclog the drain trap by accessing the U-pipe. Start by placing a bucket beneath the U-pipe to catch any water or debris. Then, use a wrench or pliers to loosen the threaded connections on both ends of the U-pipe. Carefully remove the U-pipe and clean out any accumulated debris. Once the pipe is clear, reassemble the U-pipe and check if the drain is functioning properly.

3. Home Remedies

Home remedies can be an effective and budget-friendly way to attempt clearing minor clogs. Two common home remedies are using baking soda and vinegar or a wire coat hanger. To utilize the baking soda and vinegar method, start by pouring half a cup of baking soda down the drain, followed by half a cup of vinegar. Allow the mixture to fizz and break down the clog for approximately 30 minutes, then flush the drain with hot water. Alternatively, you can bend a wire coat hanger into a hook shape and carefully maneuver it down the drain to dislodge any obstructions.

It is important to note that while these methods can be effective for minor clogs, they may not be sufficient for severe or recurring drain issues. If the clog persists or if you are uncertain about handling the problem yourself, it is advisable to seek the assistance of a professional plumber.


Plungers Pros Cons
Hand Plungers – Versatile for sinks, bathtubs, and showers
– Easy to use
– Affordable
– May require multiple attempts
– Less effective for stubborn clogs
Toilet Augers – Designed specifically for unclogging toilets
– Can reach deeper clogs
– Provides more force
– Requires proper positioning and technique
– May scratch toilet porcelain if used improperly

Note: Results may vary depending on the severity and nature of the clog. If you encounter complications or the clog persists, it is recommended to consult a professional plumber for further assistance.

What Is a Drain Snake and Drain Auger?

A drain snake, also known as a plumbing snake, is a versatile tool designed to tackle stubborn clogs in drain pipes. It features a long, flexible coiled wire with a corkscrew end, allowing it to navigate through the twists and turns of the pipe.

When using a drain snake, the corkscrew end is inserted into the drain and maneuvered through the pipe to break up or remove the clog. The flexibility of the wire enables it to conform to the shape of the pipe, effectively dislodging the obstruction.

A drain snake is particularly effective for clearing small drains with a width of 1.25 to 2 inches. For larger drains with a width of 1.5 to 3 inches, a drain auger is used. A drain auger is a type of drain snake that is specifically designed to handle larger drains and more significant clogs.

Drain Snake vs. Drain Auger: What’s the Difference?

The terms “drain snake” and “drain auger” are often used interchangeably, but there is a slight distinction between the two.

A drain snake refers to the general category of tools used to clear drains, including the traditional coiled wire design with a corkscrew end.

On the other hand, a drain auger specifically refers to a drain snake that is designed for larger drains and more heavy-duty applications. Drain augers usually feature a sturdier construction and are equipped with a stronger cable to tackle tough clogs.

Both drain snakes and drain augers are effective in clearing clogs and are essential tools for any DIY plumber or professional plumber’s toolbox. Regardless of the terminology used, these tools offer a reliable and efficient solution for unclogging drains.

Comparison of Drain Snake and Drain Auger

Aspect Drain Snake Drain Auger
Design Long, flexible coiled wire with a corkscrew end Sturdier design with a stronger cable
Usage Small drains (1.25 to 2 inches) Larger drains (1.5 to 3 inches)
Application Clearing common clogs in sinks, showers, bathtubs, and toilets Tackling more stubborn clogs and heavy-duty applications
Efficiency Effective in most residential drain clogs Ideal for challenging clogs and commercial settings
Versatility Wide range of drain sizes and applications Suitable for larger drains and tough clogs

Drain Snake and Drain Auger

An image of a drain snake and drain auger, essential tools for clearing clogs in drain pipes

Do Drain Snakes Work?

When it comes to clog removal, drain snakes are a reliable and effective tool. These versatile devices are specifically designed to tackle stubborn blockages in drains, ensuring proper water flow in your plumbing system. Drain snakes are available in different types, such as power augers, cable drain augers, flat tape augers, and toilet augers. Their impressive flexibility allows them to navigate through the twists and turns of drain pipes without causing any damage.

Whether you’re dealing with a clogged sink, bathtub, shower, or toilet, a drain snake can come to your rescue. These tools are designed to break up or pull out the obstruction, allowing water to freely flow through the drain once again.

Power augers, or motorized drain snakes, are ideal for tackling tough clogs that traditional plungers or home remedies might not be able to handle. They provide the necessary power to break through stubborn blockages and clear the drain effectively.

Cable drain augers, on the other hand, feature a flexible cable that can be inserted into the drain and rotated to break up the clog. They are versatile enough to handle various drain sizes, making them a popular choice among homeowners.

Flat tape augers are specifically designed for small drains with widths ranging from 1.25 to 2 inches. Their flat, ribbon-like shape allows them to navigate narrow pipes easily and remove clogs effectively.

For toilets, toilet augers are the go-to option. These specialized drain snakes feature a long tube and a coiled wire designed to fit into the curved trap of the toilet drain. With their unique design, toilet augers can break up clogs and clear the way for smooth flushing.

Overall, drain snakes are reliable, efficient, and user-friendly tools for clog removal. Their flexibility, along with their various types and sizes, makes them suitable for a wide range of drain cleaning needs. Whether it’s a minor clog or a stubborn blockage, a drain snake can help you restore proper drainage in no time.

How to Use a Drain Snake

Using a DIY drain snake is a practical and cost-effective way to tackle stubborn clogs in your drains. Follow this step-by-step guide to effectively clear your drain using a drain snake:

  1. Access the drain: Start by removing the overflow assembly or stopper to gain access to the drain. This will allow you to insert the drain snake properly.
  2. Crank the auger: Guide the head of the drain snake cable into the drain opening. Once inserted, use the crank to begin pushing the snake further into the pipe. Make sure to turn the crank slowly and steadily to avoid causing any damage to the pipes.
  3. Retract the snake cable: As you encounter resistance or reach the clog, continue to crank the auger to break up or extract the obstruction in the drain. This motion helps to dislodge the clog and restore the flow of water.
  4. Remove debris: After retracting the snake cable, carefully remove any debris that comes up with it. This may include hair, soap scum, or other materials that contributed to the clog.
  5. Repeat the process: If the drain is still partially clogged or if there are multiple clogs, you may need to repeat the process a few times until the drain is completely clear.

Using a DIY drain snake allows you to take control of unclogging your drains and avoid the need for professional assistance. It’s an effective and convenient solution for maintaining the cleanliness and functionality of your plumbing system.

Take a look at the image below for a visual representation of how to use a drain snake:

Best Drain Snake Products for Plumbing Emergencies

When it comes to tackling plumbing emergencies and unclogging stubborn drains, having the right tools on hand can make all the difference. Here are some highly effective drain snake products that can help you quickly and efficiently resolve plumbing issues:

RIGID 6 Feet Toilet Auger: Designed specifically for unclogging toilets, this toilet auger features a long tube with a coiled wire. Its sturdy construction and flexible cable make it easy to navigate through the pipe and break up tough clogs.

Husky 1/2 Inch x 50 Foot Drain Auger: If you’re dealing with deep clogs in various drain types, this heavy-duty drain auger is the perfect solution. With its impressive 50-foot length, it can reach deep into the pipes to tackle even the most stubborn blockages.

FlexiSnake Drain Weasel Sink Snake Cleaner: This sink snake cleaner is specifically designed for removing hair clogs in sinks and tubs. Its innovative design features micro-hooks that grab onto hair and other debris, allowing you to easily pull them out and restore the flow of water.

DrainShroom: Preventing clogs before they even happen, the DrainShroom is a must-have tool for every homeowner. Its unique mushroom-shaped design fits neatly into your drain, trapping hair and other debris while still allowing water to flow freely.

TACKLIFE Automatic Drain Auger: If you’re looking for a hassle-free solution, the TACKLIFE Automatic Drain Auger is a great choice. This cordless, battery-operated snake is powerful and versatile, capable of handling tough clogs in drains of different widths.

With these high-quality drain snake products, you can confidently tackle plumbing emergencies and keep your drains flowing smoothly. Whether you’re dealing with a stubborn toilet clog, a deep pipe blockage, or a hair-filled sink drain, these tools are designed to get the job done efficiently and effectively.