Plumber's Snake Buying Guide

A plumber in a tub with a drain snake.

If your drain is blocked and a plunger won’t clear it, you probably need a plumber's snake. You don't have to call a professional, though. This guide will help you purchase the best one for the job.

Hand or Power Cranked?

A hand cranked snake will probably be sufficient to unblock most of your drains. Cranking the snake makes it easier to push through the pipes. Hand cranked snakes are generally shorter and for smaller bore pipes.

A power cranked snake is easier to use. Care must be taken that the pipes are not damaged by cranking too fast. As the snake is cranked it will also help clean the inside of the pipe along its length. Power cranked snakes can handle any size of pipe.

There are smaller drill size snakes used for drains for sinks or lavatories. If your main sewer is clogged, you will need a larger reel type snake.

What Head Type?

a plumber's snake

A snake head can be a simple piston type to push blockages to wider parts of the drain system. These are not always effective.

  1. A screw or coil head will screw itself into whatever is causing the blockage so that you can pull it out. These are useful where there are accumulations of paper towels or similar products.
  2. A cutting head will cut away blockages. If the blockage is caused by a tree root, special care must be taken to avoid more damage to the pipe. This type of snake is best left to the professional plumber.

    Always buy a plumber's snake that is designed to fit into the size of drain that is blocked. Obviously, a snake that’s too big won’t work and can do more harm than good, but a snake that is too small can move about too much and damage the pipes. You are all set to save big and do this job yourself!