Did you know that clogged drains cost homeowners in Canada over $400 million every year? That’s a staggering amount of money spent on plumbing issues that could be resolved with a simple tool called a plumbing snake. Whether you’re dealing with a stubborn kitchen sink clog or a backed-up toilet, a plumbing snake can be a game-changer in restoring proper drainage and saving you time and money on professional plumbing services.

Key Takeaways:

  • A plumbing snake is a tool used to clear clogs in pipes.
  • It features a long, flexible coiled wire with a corkscrew end.
  • There are different types of plumbing snakes available, including manual cable drain snakes, flat tape snakes, power snakes, and toilet closet snakes.
  • Using a plumbing snake correctly and following proper maintenance is essential for effective clog removal.
  • Renting or buying a plumbing snake depends on your specific needs and budget.

How to Use a Plumbing Snake

Using a plumbing snake is a simple and effective method for clearing clogs in drains. Here is a step-by-step guide to help you use a plumbing snake:

  1. Locate the clogged drain: Identify the drain that is experiencing the clog. It could be a sink, shower, bathtub, or toilet.
  2. Prepare the area: Put on rubber gloves to protect your hands and place towels or a bucket underneath the drain to catch any water that may drip.
  3. Insert the snake: Take the end of the plumbing snake and gently insert it into the drain opening.
  4. Rotate the snake: Use the crank or handle of the snake to rotate it clockwise. This will extend the coiled wire down the pipe.
  5. Feel for resistance: Keep rotating the snake until you feel resistance, indicating that you have encountered the clog.
  6. Break up the clog: Move the snake in an up and down, back and forth motion to break up the clog. Be gentle to avoid damaging the pipe.
  7. Retrieve the snake: Once you feel that the clog has been cleared, slowly pull the snake out of the drain.

After using the plumbing snake, it is important to flush the drain with cold water to ensure that the clog has been fully cleared. Avoid using chemicals or drain cleaners while snaking the drain, as they can be harmful to both the pipes and the environment.

Using a plumbing snake can be a cost-effective and convenient way to clear clogs on your own. Just remember to follow these steps carefully and exercise caution throughout the process.

Types of Plumbing Snakes

When it comes to clearing clogs in drains, different types of plumbing snakes are available to tackle various plumbing issues effectively. Understanding the different options available will help you choose the right tool for the job.

1. Manual Cable Drain Snakes

Manual cable drain snakes are the most commonly used type of plumbing snake. They feature a crank handle that rotates a long, flexible cable with a corkscrew end. This type of snake is versatile and suitable for a wide range of clogs in sinks, showers, and tubs.

2. Flat Tape Snakes

Flat tape snakes are designed specifically for clogs in narrow drains, such as those found in bathroom sinks or shower drains. These snakes have a thin, flat blade that is inserted into the drain and pushed through to break up the clog.

3. Power Snakes

Power snakes, also known as electric snakes, are ideal for tackling more stubborn clogs. These snakes feature an electric motor that drives the cable, providing additional power for removing tough clogs like tree roots or grease. Power snakes are commonly used by professional plumbers but can also be rented for home use.

4. Toilet Closet Snakes

Toilet closet snakes are specifically designed for clearing clogs in toilets. They have a long, flexible cable that can reach deep into the toilet bowl. These snakes are essential tools for any homeowner, as toilet clogs are a common plumbing issue that can be easily resolved with the right tool.

Now that you’re familiar with the different types of plumbing snakes, you can choose the one that suits your specific plumbing needs. Remember to follow the usage instructions carefully and consider the severity of the clog before selecting the appropriate tool.

types of plumbing snakes

Proper Plumbing Snake Maintenance

proper plumbing snake maintenance

To ensure the longevity and effectiveness of your plumbing snake, proper maintenance is crucial. By following these maintenance practices, you can keep your plumbing snake in optimal condition for future use.

Cleaning a Plumbing Snake

After each use, it’s essential to clean your plumbing snake thoroughly. Start by rinsing it with water to remove any debris or residue. Make sure to wipe off any remaining dirt or grime. By keeping your plumbing snake clean, you not only maintain its performance but also prevent any buildup that could affect its functionality.

Storing a Plumbing Snake

When it comes to storing your plumbing snake, take care to keep it in a dry and safe location. This helps prevent any damage from moisture or other environmental factors. Ensure the snake is completely dry before storing it to prevent rusting. By storing your plumbing snake properly, you can extend its lifespan and ensure it’s always ready for use.

Inspecting a Plumbing Snake

Regularly inspecting your plumbing snake is essential for identifying any signs of wear or damage. Check the wires for fraying or any other signs of deterioration. Examine the handles for cracks or breaks that could compromise its usability. By catching any issues early on, you can address them promptly, ensuring the safe and effective use of your plumbing snake.

Maintenance Step Description
Cleaning Rinse the plumbing snake with water and wipe off debris
Storing Store the plumbing snake in a dry and safe location
Inspecting Regularly check for signs of wear or damage

By following these proper plumbing snake maintenance practices, you can ensure the longevity and effectiveness of your tool. Regular cleaning, proper storage, and regular inspections are key to keeping your plumbing snake in top condition for clog removal whenever you need it.

Renting vs. Buying a Plumbing Snake

When it comes to dealing with clogs, deciding whether to rent or buy a plumbing snake is an important consideration. Each option has its own advantages and disadvantages that should be taken into account based on your needs and preferences.

If you’re facing a one-time clog or you only encounter occasional clogs, renting a plumbing snake can be a cost-effective solution. Renting allows you to access professional-grade equipment without the commitment of long-term ownership. It’s a convenient option when you don’t want to invest in purchasing the tool outright.

However, renting a plumbing snake may have some limitations. Availability and time constraints can be a drawback, especially during busy seasons or emergencies when you need to clear a clog immediately. Returning the rented equipment on time is crucial to avoid additional fees or penalties.

On the other hand, buying a plumbing snake provides the convenience of having the tool readily available whenever you need it. It eliminates the hassle of scheduling rentals or worrying about availability. Owning a plumbing snake allows you to handle clogs promptly and independently, without relying on external sources.

However, buying a plumbing snake requires an upfront investment. You’ll need to consider the cost of purchasing the tool and the potential for maintenance or repairs in the future. If you frequently encounter clogs or prefer the convenience of owning your equipment, buying a plumbing snake can be a worthwhile investment.

Ultimately, the decision between renting and buying depends on your unique circumstances. Consider the frequency of clogs you experience, your budget, and your preference for convenience or cost-effectiveness. Assessing the pros and cons of each option will help you make an informed choice that best suits your needs.

The Benefits of Clearing Clogs with a Plumbing Snake

Clearing clogs with a plumbing snake offers several benefits. Firstly, it is a fast and efficient method to remove clogs and restore proper drainage. It allows for direct access to the clog, ensuring thorough removal. Additionally, using a plumbing snake avoids the use of chemicals and drain cleaners, which can be harmful to pipes and the environment. It is a cost-effective solution compared to calling a professional plumber. Using a plumbing snake also provides a sense of control and independence in managing clogs, allowing homeowners to take immediate action when needed.

Advantages of Clearing Clogs with a Plumbing Snake
Fast and efficient clog removal
Direct access to clog for thorough removal
Avoids the use of harmful chemicals and drain cleaners
Cost-effective compared to calling a professional plumber
Provides a sense of control and independence in managing clogs

When to Call a Professional for Drain Cleaning

While a plumbing snake can effectively clear many clogs, there are situations where it is necessary to call a professional plumber for drain cleaning. Severe clogs caused by tree roots or damaged pipes may require specialized equipment and expertise to fully resolve. If repeated attempts to remove the clog using a plumbing snake are unsuccessful, it is advisable to seek professional help. Signs of severe clogs include persistent slow drainage, foul odors, gurgling sounds, or multiple drains backing up simultaneously. It is important to address these issues promptly to prevent further damage to the plumbing system.

Situations Requiring Professional Drain Cleaning
Severe clogs caused by tree roots
Damage to pipes
Failed attempts to clear the clog with a plumbing snake
Persistent slow drainage
Foul odors
Gurgling sounds
Multiple drains backing up simultaneously


Using a plumbing snake is a practical and efficient method for clearing clogs in drains. By following the proper usage instructions and maintaining the tool, homeowners can benefit from its effectiveness. The plumbing snake offers several advantages, including the ability to quickly and directly access clogs, avoiding the use of harmful chemicals, and saving on costs compared to professional services.

Regular maintenance is crucial to ensure the longevity and effectiveness of the plumbing snake. Cleaning the snake after each use, storing it properly, and conducting regular inspections will help maintain its functionality. By taking these simple steps, homeowners can be confident in the reliability of their plumbing snake when clogs occur.

However, there may be situations where it is necessary to call a professional plumber for drain cleaning. When clogs are severe, caused by factors such as tree roots or damaged pipes, or when repeated attempts with the plumbing snake are unsuccessful, seeking professional help is advisable. Promptly addressing persistent slow drainage, foul odors, or multiple drains backing up simultaneously can prevent further damage to the plumbing system.

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