If you've ever hired a plumber for drain cleaning, then you've probably seen them using a snake. Snakes are helpful tools for removing many types of clogs, but they're not as straightforward as you might think. Keep reading to learn four interesting facts about how drain snakes work and how different types are suitable for solving a variety of plumbing problems.
1. Snakes and Augers Aren't the Same!
You might have heard people using the term "drain snake" and "drain auger" interchangeably. Although similar, these two plumbing tools serve different functions. Snakes push into drains and attempt to grab onto clogs, pulling them back through the drain. This technique works because the clog was able to travel to its current point in the first place.
On the other hand, drain augers (or toilet augers) work more like the augers used for excavation. These tools attempt to loosen and bore through the blockage, allowing the drain to run freely. Plumbers typically employ augers when dealing with toilet clogs to avoid pulling sewage back into your home.
2. They Come With Multiple Attachments
Most professional drain snakes come with multiple head attachments. These attachments allow your plumber to select the best option for the job, and some are even useful for retrieving lost items (such as jewelry) from a drain. Choosing the right head is a matter of experience, and it can often mean the difference between successfully clearing a clog and wasting time and energy.
Sometimes it's also necessary to use more than one attachment for a single clog. For example, your plumber may choose one head to break an obstruction loose and get your water running again, and a second head to scrape away any remaining debris on the pipe's walls.
3. Size Matters
You can usually clear minor obstructions in p-traps with simple, consumer-grade snakes. These tools might only extend 6 feet, but that's enough to deal with many typical clogs. Deeper blockages require more sophisticated tools, however. In these cases, your plumber may come with a snake that can extend up to 50 feet or even longer.
4. Improper Usage Can Cause Damage
Using a small snake to clear a sink p-trap is almost always safe, but larger, professional snakes require expertise and experience. Misusing a snake, choosing the wrong head, or using a heavy-duty snake for the incorrect applications can all lead to disaster. It's even possible to damage or destroy sections of your home's plumbing.
If you're dealing with a clog that simple hand tools can't crack, it's time to call in a professional. An expert drain cleaner will have the tools necessary to break up any obstruction and the expertise to use them safely and effectively.