How to Use a Drain Snake

A coiled drain snake.
  • 1-2 hours
  • Beginner
  • 75-150
What You'll Need
Drain snake
Sturdy grip gloves
What You'll Need
Drain snake
Sturdy grip gloves

If you have any stopped-up drains in your kitchen or bathroom, you may want to incorporate the aid of a drain snake. These handy plumbing tools are easy to operate and can effectively break up the source of virtually any drain clog.

Step 1 - Lubricate Your Drain

Before proceeding to use your drain snake, you will need to lubricate your stopped-up drain with some hot water. To do this, run a steady stream of very hot water down the drain you wish to unclog. In addition to lubricating the drain, the hot water will serve to break up and rinse away any caked-on bits of grease and hair. After allowing the hot water to run for 3 to 5 minutes, you'll be ready to insert your drain snake.

Step 2 - Insert the Snake

Now that your drain has been sufficiently lubricated, you're almost ready to begin the clog removal process. Before inserting the drain snake, it is recommended that you don a pair of nonslip gloves. While not essential, this precaution will help ensure that you are able to keep a firm grip on the snake while the clog is being removed.

You will now need to carefully insert the corkscrewed end of your drain snake into the clogged drain and drive it downward by gently turning the handle on the device's opposite end in a clockwise fashion. If it feels like the snake is having a difficult time making its way downward, run a little more hot water to provide it with some extra lubrication. Keep turning the device's handle until you feel something block the snake's path.

Step 3 - Break up the Source of the Clog

After the corkscrewed end of your snake has had its path impeded, you've most likely come into contact with the source of your clog. Although it may be tough, you will need to continue turning the snake's handle in a counterclockwise fashion in order to penetrate and subsequently break up the clog. You'll know the clog has come apart when it becomes easier to turn your snake's handle.

Once the source of the clog has been successfully purged, extract your snake by turning the handle in a counterclockwise fashion until the corkscrewed end emerges from the formerly clogged drain. Follow up by running a steady stream of hot water down the drain to wash away any lingering pieces of the broken-up clog.

Step 4 - Extract the Source of the Clog

When using a drain snake to purge smaller drain clogs, you can often extract the clog instead of breaking it apart. To do this, use the corkscrewed end of the snake to penetrate and latch onto the source of the clog. Once you've gotten a sturdy hold on the clog, turn the snake's handle in a counterclockwise fashion to pull out the corkscrewed end with the source of the clog in tow.

Calling a plumber can be expensive. But, you'll be saving now that you know how to use a drain snake to get rid of clogs.