You are going about your normal routine and suddenly you discover a clog in your drain and it immediately puts a damper on your day. It’s the last thing you want to deal with – especially when you’ve got other things that you need to get done. However, there is a tool that will come in handy in these sorts of situations: a drain snake.

What is it, exactly? A drain snake, also known as an augur, is a tool used to remove minor clogs in bathroom and kitchen sinks as well as in your toilet and shower drains. Food, hair, soap scum and mineral deposits are the common culprits of minor clogs and buildup in your plumbing. A drain snake will easily remove these obstructions.

The Right Tools For the Job

First and foremost, you will need the drain snake in addition to a few other essential items. You can purchase a drain snake at just about any home improvement store, and while you are there, you should also purchase a plastic bucket (which you will place under your drain) as well as a flashlight and rubber gloves. Generally, you will want to pick out an auger that’s a 3/8 inch, 20 foot-long model which most stores will carry. Many people will attempt to remove the clog with a clothes hanger. We recommend that you avoid using any makeshift items to try and remove a clog from your drain.

How to Use the Drain Snake

Drain snakes require a lot of gentle maneuvering. They may seem like they are a simple tool to use, but you will need to handle them the correct way if you want to remove any clogs in your drain. There is a specific procedure that you must follow to yield the best results.

If there is a screen covering your drain, then remove it. Next, slowly insert the augur into your drain and crank the handle in a clockwise motion to unwind the cable. If you have trouble pushing the augur down your drain, then hold the handle with both hands as you are using it. Make sure the handle of the auger is only a few inches away from the mouth of the drain throughout the process. This gives you the most control when attempting to locate the clog.

If you hear a scratching noise, this means that you are encountering a curve in the pipe. Try your best to push past it as carefully as you can. Once you encounter a significant amount of resistance, then you have located the clog. Now you will want to hook onto the clog with your auger, so keep turning the crank clockwise to see if the hook will latch onto it. If the augur feels weighty, then you are making progress. Now you will want to continue to prod the material to try and break it up. You should eventually be able to poke through and out the other side of the clog. If you can’t puncture through it, then you have a lot of solid buildup that you will need to fish out of your drain.

Remove the drain snake carefully so the clog doesn’t come off the hook. Clean your auger with a towel as it’s coming out of your drain. Dispose of any debris that you remove from your drain into the bucket. Continue to remove as much debris as you can until your drain snake is out of the drain entirely.

Use Hot Water

If your drain remains clogged, try pouring some hot water down the pipe. Take a standard-sized tea kettle and fill it with the water and heat it on the stove until it’s near-boiling. Next, you will want to slowly pour the water down your drain. This will usually remove any remnants of the clog. If the clog is in your shower drain, then you may think that running hot water via the showerhead will remove the clog. The problem is that hot water from your shower doesn’t reach that near-boiling point which is more effective in breaking up debris in your drain. You will still need to heat the water via the tea kettle and your stove and pour it directly into your shower drain.

A Homemade Concoction

Near-boiling water doesn’t seem to be doing the trick and now you’re wondering if there are any other viable solutions. What you can do is create a homemade concoction comprised of half a cup of baking soda, one cup of vinegar and some hot water. You can pour this down your drain and see what happens. It usually takes about fifteen minutes for the vinegary mixture to have any effect on the clog. It’s a fairly safe and easy solution that can make a huge difference if done properly.

Use Chemicals

This is your last resort to unclogging your drain. Sodium Hydroxide, also known as Caustic Soda, can be very effective in removing debris and buildup in your drain. Pour 3/4 of a gallon of cold water into a mop bucket and then mix it together with three cups of Sodium Hydroxide. Thoroughly stir the mixture and then allow it to fizz for a bit before settling. Now, pour it all into your drain and allow it to sit for about 30 minutes before flushing it out with hot water. You should always exercise caution when using Caustic Soda because it is a harsh and harmful chemical substance.

Have you tried everything and you still can’t seem to remove the clog in your drain? You should always consider hiring a professional plumbing service to get the job done for you. The issue is often pretty severe and a simple DIY solution won’t be of any use. A qualified plumber, however, will have your drain back up and running in no time!