There are times when a clog is too tough for a plunger.

The clog can be hard to locate

Another common problem is something solid has been lost down the drain, and must be recovered before it is lost.

In situations like these, professionals, homeowners, and handymen will typically look to some form of handheld drain augers as the tool for the job. A clogged toilet should be cleared using a plunger or closet auger specially designed for the task. When the trouble has formed in the service lateral drain (the pipes running away from the home to the main utility or septic tank line) a motorized rooter or plumber’s snake will be used, which has the power to deal with dense clumps of roots and other solid obstructions.

But when a clog has formed affecting a specific household drain—including bathroom sinks, showers, bathtubs, kitchen & utility sinks, and shop & laundry drains—then the preferred tool will be a drain auger.

Not all handheld drain augers are strictly speaking hand-tools. While some drain snakes come equipped with drum spools which can be rotated by hand, many drain augers are attached to power tools such as a cordless drill. Both hand-cranked and motorized augers will be used in the same way to clear the blocked drain, but the extra force of a power tool should always be treated with respect.

Prevent Damage to Property

Don't use snakes meant for sinks to unclog a toilet.

Sink snakes have unprotected metal cables

Sharp edges can scratch porcelain.

Other Tools Will Work Better

Use a snake designed for toilets, called a closet auger, or try a plunger.

Narrow cables can get tangled

Toilets have wider drains than sinks. If you extend too much narrow cable down a toilet, it can become tangled and caught.

You should consult the owner’s manual for proper and safe operation of your particular model of drain auger. When working on undamaged pipes, a correctly used auger is safe and generally advised for pipes constructed of all modern materials, including PVC, copper, steel, and concrete.

When a safe working environment has been established, the procedure will be gaining access to the drain, locating the clog, and bringing the auger down to bear on the blockage.

  • Using a Handheld Drain Auger to Unclog a Drain
    Use The Right Auger For The Drain

    Be Careful With Pocelain And Chrome

    These materials and surfaces can be damaged by the heavy tool housing and cable. You must either protect surfaces from the sharp edges and corners of the auger, or avoid the problem by bypassing these sections of drain and gaining access at another point.

  • How To Use A Closet Auger
    Learn to clear clogs using a toilet snake

    The most stubborn clogged toilets will sometimes not be cleared even by lengthy softening and vigorous plunging. In these situations, the next step is to use a tool called a handheld closet auger. The tem closet comes from the old euphemism for bathrooms, water closet, and refers to the fact that the auger is specifically designed for use on toilets and commodes. Augers are also the tool to use when attempting to clear any clog that is not soft or decomposable in nature, such as a toy or toiletry.

  • Prepare drains for clearing with a drain auger
    Proper Drain Prep

    When possible you should get an entry to the drain by removing or opening the associated trap. Very often you will find easy access to a nearby clog. If the obstruction is not immediately seen, the access point can be used to snake both sections of the drain.

    On the other hand, some smaller hand-tools will not require you to open a trap or remove a strainer. Tools designed for this purpose will have damage prevention measures, such as no-scratch plastic cables, but should still be used with care around chrome.

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