How to Use a Plumbing Snake
There are few things more frustrating at home than a stopped up drain line. All the novice individual can see from the outside is the fact that water will not drain down into the sewer line. The real problem ultimately lies within the infrastructure system unless there is grease buildup in the initial curved drained directly under a sink. Commodes can be even more of a problem, typically requiring calling a service technician or plumber from a professional like the plumbing repair specialists at Kaufman Well Drilling. But for the simpler jobs such as unclogging a sink drain, here are a few tips for operating a plumbing snake.
Remove the sink drain pipe
Most serious drain clogs will not be in the drainpipe immediately under the sink. Also known as a “P” trap, this is a grease trap that should be taken off and cleaned individually. After taking off the initial crooked drain, the wall entrance will be exposed for better access to the drain system where the actual clog more than likely resides. Hopefully, the trap underneath the sink will remove easily with minimal need for a tool, but a pipe wrench of some type may be necessary. While some drains will have a specific design where the line can be accessed underneath the “P” trap, not all drain configurations will have this “cleanout” feature. For bathtubs, access to the cleanout is through the overflow attachment up the tub wall where the drain closing switch is located.
Inserting the snake
There are generally two types of plumbing snakes. One is the standard steel snake without a housing that can be used by inching the metal cable as far down as possible and vibrated as much as possible to remove or loosen any debris in the line. This is rarely an effective tool, but it can work in some instances. The better tool is the auger with a drum that can force-feed the cable in a generally straight line farther down the pipe by turning the handle clockwise on the drum. It is important only to have about six inches of the cable exposed for both safety and efficiency in stubborn drain lines.
Using the drum auger
A drum auger is a better tool because it has a drum to keep the cable under control while in use and it will either have a set screw or handle that stabilizes the cable. After the cable reaches a stopping point, tighten the set screw or squeeze the clutch handle while turning the drum handle forcing the cable to rotate and punch through the clog. It is important to remember that the initial clog may not be the only debris in the line impeding proper water drainage, so continuing until the auger is not being resisted is a good idea before withdrawing the auger from the drain line.
Use a drill if necessary
A drum-style plumbing snake also has a removable handle where a drill can be used to drive the cable in serious clogging jobs. This is a type of tool that a plumber will use for stubborn drain lines with extensive clogging. The drum handle can be removed by squeezing the plug-in and removed from the drum. Always remember to use one of the lowest settings for the drill and expose only about six inches of cable from the drain entrance before drilling. And, always remember to clean the cable as it is being removed from the drain line to prevent rusting for better usage with the next project. Then replace the “p” trap and tighten the fittings hand tight.
These are just a few tips for those needing to unclog their drain blockage in relatively simple jobs. And, for serious drainage issues, always call a plumbing repair professional like the technicians at Kaufman Well Drilling located in Waterloo Indiana. Some clogged drains can be relatively easy fixes, but many times the real problem will need professional attention.