Should I Use a Plumbing Snake to Clear My Drains?

Plumber using a drain snake to unclog the bath's drain
We've all been there. You wake up in the morning to find that your sink is draining slowly, and now you're wondering: Should I use a plumbing snake to clear my drains? It's a valid question and one that Mr. Rooter Plumbing of Wilmington and Brunswick County has heard time and time again.

They wouldn't sell drain snakes at the hardware store if they didn't do the job, right? Well, maybe not. While a plumbing snake can help clear clogs in some cases, it's not always the best option.

Let's take a closer look at what you should consider when deciding whether to rely on that store-bought drain snake.

What's a Plumbing Snake?

A plumbing snake is a device plumbers use to clear clogs in pipes. A plumbing snake typically consists of a long metal cable with a sharp, conical tip on one end and a crank on the other. The crank is used to turn the cable to penetrate the clog and break it up.

Plumbing snakes are also available for purchase in hardware stores, which features less function and tends to be made from plastic, thus making the ones used by professionals much more powerful and designed for tougher jobs. Professional plumbing snakes typically feature an adjustable cable that can reach deeper into pipes and be used with heavier-duty augers than those found in hardware stores.

With their superior design and greater reach, professional snakes can be used on harder blockages with thicker materials, such as tree roots or hardened grease, whereas store-bought drain snakes won't be able to penetrate these types of clogs.

Can I Snake My Own Drains?

So, with that being said – is it worth buying and using a drain snake? The answer to this question depends on the severity of your clog. It might be worth the cost if it's a simple clog you can clear with a store-bought snake.

A store-bought drain snake may be effective against:

  • Hair – Even cheap plastic drain snakes can provide enough grip to pull hair clogs out of the shower or sink drains.
  • Food – Similar to hair, food particles can be cleared with a basic snake if you have the patience to carefully pull out individual clumps.
  • Physical Object – If something like a plastic toy or sanitary product has found its way into your drain, and it hasn't gone too far, a plumbing snake may be able to remove it.

However, if you're dealing with a stubborn or frequent clog that requires a little more than something you could buy in the store, you should consider hiring a licensed plumber to handle the job.

Cons of Snaking Your Own Drains

While using a store-bought plumbing snake can help with some minor clogs, it’s important to understand the downsides of snaking your own drains:

  • Can Worsen the Problem – If you are unsure where the clog is in your drain line, your attempt at snaking may pack the clog in even tighter. So much so that the pipe may need to be opened up to remove the clog.
  • Can Damage Pipe – If the snake hits a pipe joint or bends in the line, it may cause damage that could lead to costly repairs.
  • Doesn't Always Solve the Issue – Even if you manage to successfully snake your drain, it may not solve the underlying issue that caused the problem in the first place. Any build-up will remain, leading to another clog down the line.

What Can I Use Instead of a Plumbing Snake?

If you don't want to risk damaging your pipes or worsening the clog, there are alternatives to consider.

Using a plunger and boiling water is a safe and cost-effective way to clear a clog. The plunging action creates enough suction to loosen the blockage, while the boiling water helps break down the material causing the clog.

You may have noticed that we did not recommend drain cleaner. Why? Because while they may seem like a quick fix, they can actually be quite damaging to both your pipes and the environment.

Our Plumbing Company Can Help You Decide the Best Drain Cleaning Method

If your drain is clogged, it's best to call a professional plumber. Here at Mr. Rooter Plumbing of Wilmington and Brunswick County, our team of licensed and certified professionals can determine the most effective solution for you, be it professional snaking services or our HydroScrub® Jetting Cleaning tool:

  • Professional Plumbing Snake – Our Wilmington plumbers use the latest commercial-grade snake technology to clear clogs safely and effectively in various residential and commercial pipes.
  • HydroScrub® Jetting Cleaning – Our HydroScrub® Jetting Cleaning uses high-pressure water jets and specialized nozzles to blast away clogs and clean the inside of your pipes.

It's always best to leave the plumbing work to the professionals. If you need a plumber or want to know more about drain cleaning and clog removal, don't hesitate to reach out! We would be happy to answer any questions you may have and provide any of the drain cleaning services we offer to get things flowing again.

For more information about drain cleaning, clog removal, or our assortment of other plumbing services in Wilmington, contact us online!