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How to Snake a Drain
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Blog 08/22/19

How to Snake a Drain

When you are experiencing a clogged sink or tub drain, sometimes a plunger just doesn’t cut it. Before you call a certified Bill Howe plumber, try snaking your drain.

What is a drain snake?

A drain snake is typically available for purchase at your local hardware store and serves as a drain clearing tool. These can cost anywhere from $20 to over $100. Models that are used by plumbers are over $200 since the cables tend to be longer. To keep your plumbing safe from damage, use a hand crank rather than an electrical model. A snake consists of a coiled or bulb head on the end of a cable that occasionally allows you to retrieve the source of the clog in your sink or tub

How does a drain snake work?

A snake works opposite of a plunger. Rather than trying to push the source of the clog through the drain pipe, a snake grabs hold of the clog allowing you to pull it back up through the drain or break it up.  

How do you snake a drain?

You can use a snake on any type of drain, be it sink or bathtub. First, push the end of the snake through the drain opening and begin turning the handle on the drum of the snake. Next, keep pushing the snake into the drain six inches at a time until you feel resistance. You may need to apply pressure initially to turn the tight curve underneath the drain so that it will reach the clog. Once you clear the curve, the line should move through the line smoothly until you feel the resistance of the obstruction.  Once you feel resistance, keep spinning the snake so that it either attaches to the clog or chops it up. If it does not feel like the bulb or coiled head has destroyed the clog or the twisting does not get easier, pull the auger out of the drain pipe. The clot is likely attached to the head of the auger and needs to be pulled out of the opening of the drain. Finally, once you remove the auger and clog from the drain, run the water at full force to double-check that the drain is unclogged.

What do I do if snaking the drain did not work?

If trying to snake the drain yourself does not work, it is time to call 1-800-BILL-HOWE to schedule a plumbing service to unclog your drain. A licensed plumber from Bill Howe plumber will first use a drain snake to try to remove the clog. The plumber will follow the same steps that you followed earlier in the process and perform a camera inspection to determine what the next step should be. A few things may happen from here. A snake with either a longer cable or an electric snake to add a bit more power can be used. If the clog is severe or if there is root intrusion, the plumber will most likely recommend hydro-jetting.

What is hydro-jetting?

Hydro-jetting is a process that helps to clear existing blockages and clean drain buildup. Using high water pressure, a hydro-jetter is a machine that can be adjusted to fit all types and sizes of drains. Hydro-jetters can help clear existing clogs, roots, and excess grease or scum. Hydro-jetting is also necessary when preparing your lines for epoxy lining. Hydro-jetting should be completed by a licensed, insured and bonded plumber since it is a strong tool that requires training and experience. 

What are the benefits of hydro-jetting?

There are numerous benefits to utilizing hydro-jetting to unclog your drain. First, the hydro-jetter thoroughly cleans your drains obstructed with heavy scale build-up, excess grease, hardened sludge, scum, sand, silt, and debris. Additionally, hydro-jetting is cost-effective in keeping your drains free from root intrusion. Once used, this will remove roots from the line and restore the pipe to its full diameter and full flow. Hydro-jetting also comes with a longer warranty than is offered with snaking.  Hydro-jetting is great for preventative maintenance as well and should be done every 6 months to a year.  

Whether it is a minor or major clog, a certified Bill Howe technician can help determine a solution.  Call 1-800-BILL-HOWE (1-800-245-5469) today to schedule your snake or hydro-jetting appointment.  


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We had other companies come out for estimates on what was considered a major job with jackhammers and replacing cast iron pipes under the house… having been stung before, we wanted another estimate just to make sure we were making an informed decision. The prior estimates went up to $21,000!
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