How to Make Your Own Drain Snake

A drain snake.

So your drain is clogged and you know the plumber lives for this kind of easy money, but you don’t have a drain snake. No worries; a few household items can have your drains running free and keep your cash in your pocket.

A Steel Coat Hanger

Use pliers to remove the hook portion and the twisted knot of metal just under it, then straighten the remaining steel wire. A coat hanger snagged in the drain is a larger problem than a clog, so leave the business end straight. Form a “Z” shape at the hanger’s end, then crank it as you push it into the drain.

A Bike Lock Cable

A steel cable with vinyl covering will work for medium distances; twist as you push it into the drain. Be certain to clean it well after use, as the household drain is a nasty place.

Steel Cable

Check your garage for steel cable of 1/8” or greater thickness. Using needle-nose pliers, shape individual wires at the end to resemble a daisy in bloom. Twist as you push the wire daisy into the drain.

Don’t Buy These Items

If these ideas aren’t within reach, check out your local hardware store. Some DIY drain snakes are less than 20 bucks. It’s a good investment.

How to Make Your Own Drain Snake FAQ

What can I use if I don't have a drain snake?

If you don't have a snake, you can always try pouring boiling water down the drain. The hot water will not damage the pipes and it may be enough to dissolve and dislodge the clog that is causing all the trouble.

Can I snake a drain myself?

Most household clogs can be treated as a DIY project and snaked out by homeowners, so you don't have to spend the money to have a plumber fix the problem. However, there may be some clogs that are actually part of a larger plumbing problem or that prove to be so stubborn, you have no choice but to call in professional help.

Why you should never use baking soda and vinegar to unclog a drain?

Baking soda and vinegar are a common combination and a go-to household cleaning solution. This is a very effective solution for cleaning a drain and it can remove bad odors.

Some say that the natural chemical reaction that occurs between vinegar and baking soda can dissolve clogs as well. Trying this mixture will not harm pipes but may not always prove effective at treating sink clogs.

Can snaking a drain break a pipe?

Over time, pipes can wear out, rust and become damaged. This makes it easier to pole holes in pipes, which can happen if you are attempting to snake out a drain.

Snakes can create holes and damage in older pipes that are already wearing out. However, these pipes are clearly in need of replacing anyway.

How do you unclog a drain when a snake won't work?

Smoke clogs might be very tightly packed in there and even a snake cannot move them. In these cases, try renting a power auger to give yourself more force.

You may also want to consider hiring a plumber at this time.