The plumbing system is one of the essential parts of any home, delivering water to the bathrooms, kitchen, and toilets as well as flushing dirty water. It’s also one of the most used systems in the houses, increasing the chances of getting clogged or blocked. Homeowners need to carry out frequent inspections and maintenance to ensure everything is operating optimally.
During an inspection, you may notice your kitchen sink or bathroom drain is a little slower than usual. This is a sign of clogged drainage systems caused by hairs and materials such as food and dirt. Over time, certain materials can build up in the drainage system, causing a blockage that not even a plunger can remove.
When you experience a clogged drain system, you should consider contacting a reliable plumbing service such as BEST Air Conditioning Plumbing Repair. However, you can choose to approach this as a DIY project using a plumbing snake.
What Is a Plumbing Snake?
A plumbing snake is a specialized tool to remove clogs within the piping or drainage systems. It resembles a regular garden hose but serves a different purpose. The plumbing snake is a long, flexible metal cable with an auger or small uncoiled spring on one end and a handle on the other. When using this tool, it uncoils inside the piping or down the train to reach the blockage causing slow drains or backup.
A plumbing snake is the best option for clogs and blockages a plunger can’t solve. This tool is relatively more efficient than a plunger as it can reach far inside the drain, unlike a plunger. However, using them can be challenging, especially if you don’t have a background in plumbing. Plumbers use this tool to remove kitchen and bathroom sinks, and shower drains clogs. Toilets require a specialized snake to deal with, making it unsafe to use a typical plumbing snake to remove the blockage.
How Does it Work?
Plumbing snakes are fitted with an auger, a corkscrew-like coil, which removes materials stuck in the drain or pipes. This tool is fed into the clogged plumbing system and unrolled from a reel or coiled position. As you use the crank to turn the auger, you can move the drill bit inside the pipe in a small circle or up and down. This way, you can easily dislodge anything blocking your drain or pipes.
How to Use a Plumbing Snake
Working with a plumbing snake can be tricky, especially if you don’t have any plumbing skills. However, if you decide to approach the task yourself, you need to learn a few basic skills to help you get it right. Using this tool is relatively safe; however, you need to do it correctly to avoid causing more damage to your plumbing system. Here are a few steps to help you:
Step 1: Prepare the pipes and drain before inserting the auger.
The first step is to remove the p-trap, which is removed by hand or wrench. Removing the trap makes it easy for the plumbing snake to access the drain and piping. A P-trap is the curved piping under the sink, which in some cases can be an obstruction to inserting the snake. Once you remove the trap, you can snake by inserting the auger directly into the pipes.
Step 2: Uncoil the snake.
Once the auger is safely inside the drain or pipe, you can begin uncoiling the spring. Manual plumbing snakes are operated by hand and are uncoiled by rotating the handle. It’s advisable to maintain a constant pace, not too fast, to avoid damaging the pipes. You should also not push too hard when pushing the coil through the piping; this way, you can preserve the integrity of the drain entrance and pipe. The coil will move down the pipes as you gently rotate the handle; hence no need for extra force. If you feel any resistance or pressure, it could indicate you have reached the obstruction.
Step 3: Uncoil the snake till you reach the blockage.
Hitting the first resistance can trick you into believing you have reached the target. Once the coil reaches the blockage, wiggle the head back and forth to penetrate the obstruction before continuing to uncoil. If the auger is stuck, gently try to pull the snake out of the pipe – hopefully, the block comes with it. Otherwise, continue uncoiling the snake through the obstruction till you fill no resistance or pressure.
Step 4: Remove the Snake and test if the drainage is clogged.
Once the resistance is removed and there is no sign of pressure, you can reassemble the sink and check if the clog has been removed. Open the taps or flush clean water through the sink and check if it is still slow or if there are any backups. If the drains seem clogged, repeat the snaking process. However, if the problem persists, it’s best to contact an expert.
Types of Plumbing Snakes
Plumbing snakes have the same working principles and are relatively easy to use. However, there are few options, each designed for a specific task. They include:
This is the smallest type of snake and can even be used in a toilet. It’s also referred to as a drum or top snake and is often for domestic use. They come with 25-50 feet long cables with a corkscrew to dislodge debris. Homeowners can choose to get manual or electric models to unclog bathroom sinks, drains, bathtubs, washing machines, and kitchen sinks.
A toilet auger is the best plumbing snake to unclog toilets. It comes in handy when dealing with toilet blockages a plunger can’t handle. The drill has a bend to enable it to fit the bottom of the toilet bowl and remove the clog.
Plumbing Snake Augers
Like nail drills, plumbing snakes can be modified and fitted with different augers. Each auger is designed for a different function. For example, the coils are used to retrieve lost items or remove fragments, while choppers are used to clear dirt, scales, and other debris. You can choose different blade sizes and lengths to remove materials clinging to the piping walls.
Medium Drain Machine
These machines are also called mini-rooters and are primarily used to unclog sewers. They are fitted with cables 50 to 75 feet long with 3-8 inches in diameter. Medium drain machines feature a cage and electric motor ideal for unclogging kitchen drains and washing machines. This version is also used to remove the P-trap since it can maintain its shape in the open area of the pipe. However, it’s not wise to use them to unclog bathtubs or bathroom drains since they can damage the trap underneath.
Plumbing snakes are relatively easy to use and, in most cases, safe. However, you need proper training and experience to handle delicate drainage jobs, especially if you don’t know what is causing the blockage. To get it right, contact a reliable service such as BEST Air Conditioning Plumbing Repair. At BEST Air Conditioning Plumbing Repair, we also offer cooling, heating, and drain cleaning services to clients in Las Vegas and the surrounding areas. Contact us for more information.