If you are suspecting you are dealing with a clog that is too rigid for a plunger and you are not ready to throw in the towel, a drain auger can be your best bet. A drain auger, also known as a drain snake, sewer snake, or plumber’s snake, is a plumbing tool that snakes through your septic systems to remove even the toughest of clogs.
Types of Drain Augers
Drain augers come in different types. One of the most common is the cable auger also referred to as the plumber’s snake. This one features several feet of snake around a spool attached to a hand crank.
The second type is the closet auger, which comes with a shaft instead of the spool in the cable auger to hold the coiled metal. The closet auger features a bent tip at the end that lets it fit perfectly into the toilet trap – the arched pipe that leads from the bowl to the drain pipe.
The third type is the electric-powered drain auger that is designed to clear large clogs or used on those clogs that are located away further from the toilet, sink, or drain cleaning.
Often, the power drain auger is used by professionals and is expensive for home owners. Regardless, you can rent it from your local hardware store for clearing stubborn clogs in your home. But, if you are dealing with ordinary clogs, a cable or closet sewer snake can come in handy.
How Do You Use Sewer Snakes?
To effectively use your sewer snakes, follow the following steps:
Align the end of the drain snake and lead it into the drain. Consider turning the hand crank so that the snake goes into the drainpipe hassle-free. Keep rotating the handle until you feel that the snake end has reached the obstructing clog.
Upon reaching the obstruction clog, move the snake back and forth and up and down. With these movements, the snake will try to break up the clog or attach to it before breaking it. Try not to jam the snake into the walls of the pipe. If you hear the snake scraping against the walls of the pipe, stop snaking and re-adjust the auger.
If you feel the drain auger head is getting stuck in the clog, pull it out of the drain. In most cases, the clog might come out with the snake. Continue snaking until you no longer feel any resistance while un-coiling the snake to its full length.
Pull the snake out. Once you pull out the sewer snake, check the head for remains of the clog and clean it. If you removed the trap arm or p-trap, then re-install it.
Check the sink or toilet. The drain snake should have effectively removed the clog obstructing the draining of your sewer line. But if you find that you still have the obstruction, repeat the same snaking procedure. However, keep in mind that drain snakes can harm your drains. If the plumbing snake didn’t clear the clogging problem, it may be time to use a power drain auger.
How to Use a Power Drain Auger
If you find that you are dealing with a tough clog that ordinary drain snakes can handle, you can use a power drain auger to break it. With the power drain auger, you may be able to clear the stubborn clogs instead of hiring a plumber as a cost.
So, by following these simple steps below, you can use a power drain auger to unclog your drains.
Step 1: Prepare your Drain
The first thing to do before you get down to tackling the clog is to prepare yourself, the power drain auger, and the drain pipe. For instance, you will want to charge the auger battery so that you have reliable power to successfully unclog your sewer line.
Besides, you will also want to dress up in protective gear such as safety glasses or goggles, rubber gloves, and an overall to cover your body. Certainly, you wouldn’t want to get messed by whatever is clogging your sewer line.
Also, ensure you have a large garbage bag or can where you can put your auger once you are done with unclogging your drains. The auger might come along with drain cleaning chemicals and you don’t want them to mess your floor or countertops. As such, you have a convenient way to carry your auger out of the house for cleaning.
Step 2: Insert the Auger
Once you are fully prepared, you can insert the auger into your main drain. Be cautious not to scratch your sink or toilet bowl as you push the auger into the drain.
Step 3: Feed the Auger
Once the cable is in your drain, turn on the motor for your power drain auger. With the trigger on your power drain auger, start to auto feed the cable down the drainpipe until you reach the clog.
Once you reach the clog, you need to work on breaking the clog and clearing the obstruction. So, spin and push the auger head through the clog while releasing and grabbing the muck in the drain. Most power drain augers come with up to 25 feet long metal cords making them long enough to reach the most common and stubborn clogs that can be found in the sewer line.
Step 4: Remove the Drain Auger
Once you feel that you have cleared any resistance you experienced with the clog earlier, you can retract the drain auger cable automatically. Ensure to wipe the cables as it retracts into the auger.
Open the sink faucet or flush the toilet to allow the water to run into your septic systems to see if the clogging is gone. Most likely, water will start flowing down your drains perfectly meaning the clog is cleared.
However, if the clog isn’t cleared yet, consider augering again your drains while ensuring the release of the cable into a full length. Your drainpipe might be clogged even further down than you estimated.
If you have snaked severally and the clog seems not to break, it is time to consider calling a professional plumber.
How to Trouble Shoot a Power Drain Auger When the Cable Won’t Feed-in and Out of the Machine
There are a few things to check if your power cable won’t feed in and out of your auger machine. The first thing to do is to loosen the knob on top of the feed and try to pull the cable out of the drum by hand. If the cable doesn’t slide freely, then it might be twisted in the drum.
So, remove the twisted cable before reloading it in the drum. This time, make sure it is reloading in the correct direction (in a clockwise direction). Lubricate the cable well since a dry and rusty cable won’t slide in and out of the drum seamlessly.
Ensure that the three feed rollers spin freely. If they are dirty and cracked, or frozen, consider cleaning or replacing them. Even if one roller is faulty, ensure all three are replaced.
Examine the cable for excessive tear and wear. If the feed pressure knob is too tight, the cable is likely to wear flat. When the cable wears too flat, then the rollers cannot grip the cable thus the feet will slip. So, you can either remove it by cutting the damaged part or replacing the entire cable.
When to Call a Professional Plumber
Sometimes the clog may just refuse to clear away. It could be a toy blocking, a damaged pipe or just a big tree root intrusion, or any other strong obstruction. Without a doubt, some clogs simply require the expertise and the high-end professional tool of a drain specialist.
Besides, you don’t have to do the snaking process too hard or spend hours on the clog. This is because you may end up damaging the auger or the pipe as well as remain with the clogged drain anyway.
So, once you have tried your best and the clog is not cleared, consider calling a professional plumber who has specialized in drain clog removal. He will do a drain video scope to find out what the problem could be and locate the point of the blockage.
Q: Can you use a power drain auger on PVC Pipe?
A: Yes. However, since PVC is plastic, you will have to be cautious, especially when spinning or moving the auger around or up and down in the drain. Moreover, consider running hot water instead of chemicals down the drain to completely clear the clog.
Q: When should I use a power drain auger?
A: Power drain augers are designed to unclog the toughest of clogs in toilet or shower drains. While the ordinary plumbing snakes cover a limited length when fed into the drains, the power drain auger is longer and, therefore, covers a longer distance in the drain. That way, it is handy in removing the toughest and furthest located clogs in your drain line.
So, if you are battling stubborn clogs in your shower or toilet drain pipes, a power drain auger can come to your rescue. In fact, you don’t need to put in extra effort since it is powered by electricity.
Q: How can I repair my broken cable or snakes
A: The quickest ad simplest way to repair a broken power drain auger or snake and get it back in operation is using a quick-fix connector. This device simply screws tightly onto the end of the cable and won’t let go. The quick-fix connector is available in different sizes including 1/2 –inch, 9/16 – inch, 5/8 –inch, and 3/4 – inch for general drain cables.
Alternatively, you can weld female or male connectors onto the end of the damaged or broken cable. However, be sure to follow the correct instruction for a proper welding process.
How to use a power drain auger can be done by any DIY enthusiast if you follow the steps we have mentioned above. Besides, it will only take a few minutes to break down even the toughest of the clogs thus saving you a few bucks you could otherwise hire a plumber.