Drain Snakes for Plumbing

Overview of The Different Drain Snakes

Drain snake
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Drain snakes come in oh so many shapes, sizes, and brands that they can make things quite confusing. Here is an overview of several common drain snakes and how they are used. With this set of drain snakes, I can handle any drain stoppage I am likely to encounter.

You can rent these or similar machines from most tool rental places at a fraction of the cost than you might spend on a plumber.

  • Toilet Auger - A toilet auger is a snake made specifically for toilet stoppages. This is very handy if you cannot clear a toilet stoppage with a plunger or if you think something is stuck in your toilet. Learning to clear a toilet stoppage with a toilet auger is relatively easy.I often recommend purchasing a toilet auger because it can save you a considerable amount when compared to calling a plumber.

    Note: There are also urinal augers if you have a business that may have urinal stoppages from time to time; they work similarly to toilet augers.

  • Top Snake - This is the smallest of the snakes. It is mostly used for tubs, showers, bathroom sink stoppages, washing machines and sometimes kitchens sink. Most have a 25-foot cable. They come in many different shapes and sizes as well as manual and electric. I highly recommend the electric ones because they are easier to use. You can usually rent a top snake for $25 for a few hours. These are great for stoppages where you do not have to go more than 25 feet or do not have a lot of build-up.
  • Mini-Rooter or Medium Drain Machine - This snake should be used with a ⅜" cable and works well if it has at least 50 to 75 feet of cable length. These are great if you have a kitchen or washing machine to clean-out or if you need to snake the drain from or under the kitchen or bathroom sink once you take the trap off. They can also be used to clear kitchen or washing machine line from the roof vents. Do not use these for tub or shower stoppages because they can break the trap under the tub or shower. Also, I don't like to use these in anything bigger than 2-inch sized drain lines.
  • Large Drain Machine - Like the others, this comes in many shapes and sizes. For this machine, I recommend a minimum of ⅝" cable, but I use and prefer ¾" cable with no less than 50 to 100 feet of cable length. While I prefer 100 feet of cable, depending on how far away the stoppage is, sometimes even more cable is required.This machine is used for drains that are 3 inches or larger in width. I do a lot of stoppages from the clean-out to the street and most of the time roots are the cause, so you need a strong cable and machine to get the job done.Like the other machines, a large drain snake can usually be rented by the hour and can cost considerably less than calling a plumber. 

    Whenever you rent or buy a drain snake, ask for an overview of how to use that specific machine. Most drain snakes work in similar ways but it is safer to be well acquainted with your particular model. Before you attempt to use it, learn what each part does.