Everyone fights with clogged sinks or a backed-up toilet at some point. Plumbing snakes are advertised as easy-to-use solutions that will get things flowing again with just a few cranks of a handle. Sometimes, though, plumbing snakes can end up being more complicated to use and even cause additional problems. Read on to find out how to properly use a plumbing snake and what some common issues with them are.

How to Use a Plumbing Snake

A drain snake is a device with a bit or blades attached to the end of a flexible wire. The wire twists, turning the tip of the snake and causing it to scrape or bore into the clog. Snakes get used on blockages that a plunger is unable to dislodge.

Take these steps when snaking:

  • Prepare for a dirty job
  • Remove P-trap/trap arm
  • Feed the snake gently into pipe
  • Slowly uncoil wire
  • Rotate back and forth at obstruction
  • Slowly return wire
  • Assemble components and test

Snaking can get messy, so wearing old clothes and laying out towels helps. Removing the P-trap and arm lets you check these for the blockage before going any farther, and it makes snaking easier, too. Keep the device near the opening of your drain and slowly operate until you feel resistance. You can rotate the snake back and forth while gently pushing past the obstruction. Once cleared, coil the snake back to you, reassemble the parts, and test to verify the clog is gone.

Problems With a Plumbing Snake

Most handheld snakes don’t have the reach or power to attack clogs properly. If you spend the extra money for a drum snake, you’ll be spending as much (or more) than you would by calling out a professional on a tool infrequently needed at best.

Another problem we often see is that customers lack the operational experience these tools require. Many materials used for plumbing become damaged through improper use of a plumbing snake blade.

Pipe damage is a serious concern here, with tips puncturing pipe walls or creating scratches that can weaken the structure over time. Snake and auger tip designs work best for specific applications, and you’ll only know which to use with training and experience. You can also damage the porcelain on your sink, toilet, or tub if you’re not careful.

Not all clogs are the same. Dirt, food, hair, hygiene products, kitty litter, and toilet paper are removable with a snake. Other items like leaves, plants, and tree roots are usually out of reach of homeowners. A plumbing snake will not effectively remove clogs from soap scum, fats, grease, oils, or mineral buildup.

Finally, some blockages or flooding result from structural problems. Cracks, holes, and offset pipes will be damaged more by a plumber’s snake in the hands of an untrained individual. These tools, especially the powered versions, can be dangerous to use.

A Professional Plumbing Service Is Your Best Option

There are several advantages to calling a pro, the biggest reason being long-term savings. You don’t need to invest in one or more tools you’ll seldom use, and you can avoid causing more damage through inexperience.

A trained professional understands the different materials used for commercial and residential plumbing. They’ll use the right tools and have trained in the most effective and up-to-date methods.

Getting the job done right the first time reduces the chances of repeat clogs. These usually stem from underlying issues the plumbing snake can’t fix. A trained plumber can identify and address the root cause and help you avoid sewage or water damage.

You won’t have to handle sewage water or waste when you rely on us. Our team will come to you ready for the job with the equipment, parts, and know-how a quick fix requires.

Contact Us to Get Your Drains Working Again

If you suspect issues with your drains or have a clog, don’t take the chance of making matters worse. Contact Twin Peaks Plumbing, Heating & Gas in Nanaimo today and set up an appointment to get things done right the first time. We’re available 24/7 for emergency repairs. Our team uses the latest techniques and equipment to identify and fix problems. We can help with water heaters, heat pumps, gas furnaces, and boilers. Our team provides residential and commercial gas services as well. Find out why we’re the go-to plumbing company in the area.

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