There are endless possibilities as to why your toilet is clogged. From the accumulation of debris such as sanitary towels and wet wipes to stuck items such as pens, plastics, toys, and large bar soaps. Sometimes, it could even be a plumbing issue. If you’ve had no success with the common unclogging tools and methods, a drain snake may help.
A drain toilet snake has a handle and a flexible long wire coil with a corkscrew-like head tip that maneuvers through your toilet to locate, break up and clear stubborn clogs that that may be sitting deep down in the drain pipes. All you need is to carefully insert the head tip into the drain, then gently push downwards while rotating the handle.
This is a quick DIY solution ideal for light deep clogs that other conventional tools like a plunger can’t handle. This is also a fix to try out before hiring a pro plumber, who of course won’t smile when payment time comes.
While most drain snakes are hand-operated; have a rotatable handle or crank to release and retrieve the cable, there are also electric versions (drum & motor). The following is an in-depth guide on steps to unclog using a plumbing snake
Unclogging Toilet with Snake
Put together all the essential items you will need for the whole process. The tools you need include the following;
- Rubber gloves
- Cleaning bucket
- Household detergent or bleach
- Plumber’s drain snake
- Prepare yourself and the area around the toilet for any possible mess. Lay a couple of towels around the base. Have the cleaning bucket nearby ready for the task. Put on gloves, goggles and any other protective attire.
- Insert the end of the auger into the toilet bowl so that it points down the drain.
- Begin uncoiling the snake using the handle down into the drain towards the clog. Keep the handle of the snake as close to the entrance of the drain as possible. The less slack the snake cable has, the more effectively you can control it.
- When you feel the cable come up against some form of resistance, that means you’ve reached the clog or obstruction. Move or the rotate the head back-and-forth and up-and-down as you bore through the clog to break it down. Continue snaking until you no longer feel resistance and the snake uncoils to its full length.
- Pull the snake out and check for any remains of the clogging materials. Clean it off and dump any nasty clog debris into the bucket for easy disposal.
- Flush to check if the clog is completely cleared.
- If the clog is not yet cleared, repeat this process until your toilet can be flushed as normal.
- The final step is to clean up the toilet to get rid of any skunk or dirt that may come up because of unclogging. Use the household detergent to thoroughly clean the toilet, as well as the bucket used to empty the debris. Do a final rinse with bleach and hot water to disinfect the bowl and the bucket. Do the same for the auger before storage.
Further Reading: Toilet Auger vs Snake
How to Unclog With Electric Snake
An electric auger works the same way as a manual toilet snake but it’s powered by electric power. This type will not require any cranking up or manipulation to get inside the drain, you simply press forward and backward and it’s done.
Electric snakes come in two varieties; drum snake that is powered with a drill attachment and the built-in power motor
For the drum type, you have to attach an electric drill to the spindle to run it. Most of the drum snakes come with knobs that allow you to use your hand to run them. One of the most popular drum snakes is the DrainX Power Pro. It stretches 35-FT, is made of steel, and comes with a drill attachment, bag plus gloves
With a power drain snake, you don’t need an additional attachment. It comes with a built-in motor that controls the speed of the cable. One of the most popular e-snake with a built-in motor is the Tacklife 20 ft drain snake
Steps to Use an Electric Snake
The items you’ll need for the job include;
- Rubber gloves and googles
- Cleaning equipment – rags and household cleaners
- Electric snake
- Prepare the toilet by placing the bucket close and rag close to the toilet to cater for any water splashes. Ensure you have access to power supply or source. Put on the gloves and goggles.
- Connect your snake to a power source and insert the head into the toilet drain.
- Click the forward button to activate the snake to colt through the drain. Once you feel some resistance, power through until you the blockage is cleared
- Once the drain cleared, press the reverse button on the electric snake to pull it out of the drain.
- Flush the toilet to confirm that the blockage is actually gone. If not successful repeat the steps.
- The last step is to cleaning up the snake and any mess resulting from process. Some bleach, slightly hot water, and a disinfectant can easily get the job done . Thoroughly scrub the toilet and the tools (snake and any other tool) as you also rinse it down with warm water. Let the tools dry before storage
- Don’t push the auger into the drain with a lot of force, it may damage your toilet or it wont slide smoothly
- If you think the auger might be stuck in the obstruction, consider pulling the snake out of the drain. Sometimes the clog may come out with it.
- Don’t jam the auger into the walls of the toilet drain. If you hear scraping noises, then you should stop snaking and re-adjust.
- To make the whole process of unclogging your toilet with a snake easier, consider preparing your toilet by loosening up the debris so the snake won’t be doing much pushing. Start off by adding a drain cleaner to the bowl and leaving it for about 15 minutes to half an hour. Pouring hot water with a solution like dish soap or bleach/ vinegar is also an option.
Why Drain Snake Won’t make Turn
Your drain snake won’t make a turn because it has hit a clog, you are applying a lot of unnecessary force, it is too big, it is holding onto a snag usually caused by pipe corrosion.
Ensure you are using the right drain snake. It should not be too big or too small. Once you have got the right snake make sure are snaking your toilet correctly. Insert the head into the drain and push very slowly and gently without cranking.
When the snake feels like it is stuck and cannot go any farther, that usually indicates that it has hit the clog and it’s time to crank slowly to work the head through the gunk.
If it feels like the drain snake is stuck in a corner, make an attempt of operating the crank in reverse. This makes the head wobble back and forth hence clearing the clog.
Disadvantages of using a Drain Snake
It is important that a drain snake isn’t the best tool to clear clogs in your toilet as it comes with disadvantages. Below are some cons of drain snakes
- The unprotected long cable will scratch your enamel toilet bowl leaving scrape marks
- The coiling cable can be too narrow or too wide. If too narrow, it cannot handle clogs in the wide pipes in your toilet and if too wide, it cannot turn in small pipes
- The shape of the head tip is not designed to effectively grab onto and remove tough toilet clogs
The best option is to try out a closet auger. It is a type of drain snake that works with most toilets. It comes with a rubber sleeve that’ll protect your bowl from scrape marks. It can get around the first bend, keep debris at arm’s length, and yet still spins the coil to hook foreign objects. One of the best in the market is the DrainX Swivel-Head Toilet Auger Drain Plumbing Snake
Further Reading: How to Use a Toilet Auger to Unclog
Using Snake on Clogged Sinks & P Traps
How to Unclog Without a Snake
If for whatever reason, you don’t want to use the snake to unclog the toilet, there are various other options you can use.
Option 1: A Wire Coat Hanger
It’s thin, metallic, and sturdier than any other household item. You’ll need to unwind the coat hanger from its ordinary look into a long wire enough to fit into the drain. You can opt for a completely straight hanger or bent a bit into a hook to avoid damaging the inside of the drain.
Further Reading: How to Unclog a Toilet with a Wire Coat Hanger
Option 2: Dish Soap a Bucket of Hot Water
This specific method acts as a drain cleaner, you’ll not be getting your hands dirty from having to push something into the drain. Simply take a bucket of hot water, add some dish soap to the water. Pour down the hot water into the drain as you wait for the clog to clear out.
Option 3: Baking Soda and Vinegar
This method is extremely common, especially when unclogging the sink in the kitchen. You pour your entire box of baking soda inside the toilet then slowly add in the vinegar. Some foam may come up but that’s just the reaction. Allow the mixture to sit for some time the flush the toilet. Check this article for details
Option 4: Drain Cleaning Chemicals
The next method is using store-bought drain cleaners. The DIY methods above may not suit your style, so simply head out to the store and look for the lost aggressive drain cleaner. Add it to the toilet and let it sit to soften the blockage. After about half an hour, flush the toilet, you should see some results.
Option 5: The Plunger
Back to the original method of using the plunger. About 80 to 90% of the time, the plunger always gets the job done. You simply need to suction the drain in a consistent manner with some bit of force to disentangle the blockage.
Since there are different types of plungers, go for one that fits your toilet drain perfectly. It’ll offer the right force required to get the job done.
Other methods u can use include;