How to use an electric snake

The electric snake is a great tool to use when you want to unclog your drain. It’s also helpful for clearing out any blockage in pipes and drains.

What is a drain snake?

A snake is a long, bendable tool with an electrical motor on one end and a handle on the other. The head of the electric snake is pointed so it can fit into tight spaces. At first glance, an electric snake looks like a giant corkscrew. It has two coils wrapped around each other like springs–the outer coil rotates clockwise and the inner coil rotates counterclockwise to make the “screw” spin in both directions.

How does it work?

Once you turn on the electric snake, its spinning action loosens any debris that’s stuck inside your drain or pipe. The faster you move it up and down or back and forth (depending on how you want to use it), the better chance you have at cleaning out the blockage.

Once you’ve pulled out most of the debris, turn off the snake and let it rest for about 15 seconds. Then, pull it back through your drain or sewer pipe to clear away any remaining gunk. For tougher jobs, run hot tap water while you clean with an electric snake to help loosen debris (the heat from the water will expand metal pipes and make blockages easier to knock loose).


Manual drain snake

This type of snake is the cheapest and simplest to use. You hand-feed it into your drain as you twist and push as if you’re feeding a piece of string down the hole. Just remember: The more turns and bends there are in your pipe, the harder this tool will be to control.

Automatic drain snake

This electric snake has a motor that does all the work for you (once you set it up). It’s great for people with bad backs or who have trouble bending over their sink or bathtub to clean out blockages. Plus, most automatic snakes come with either a manual override or an easy release/rewind button so they’re simple to operate–even for kids.

Electric drain snake

An electric snake works like a plunger (without all the plunging), so it’s ideal for unclogging toilets (especially clogs near the bowl) and kitchen sinks. But if your problem is far down the drain, you may need to use chemicals to clear the blockage first–that way your electric snake can grab on to the debris and pull it back down the pipe.

Sewer drain snake

In the past, sewer snakes were only pulled through underground sewer pipes by a professional plumber. But now, some power tools manufacturers make electric snakes that do the job in a home setting. It’s a great tool to have in your kitchen or bathroom if you often need to clean out clogs near the drain opening where the trap and mainline meet (if you need to snake out your mainline, though, be sure to call a plumber).

Usage steps

Step 1 – Prepare the Drain

If you’re using a manual drain snake, put on gloves and safety glasses.

Place the drain-cleaning tool in your sink. Make sure it’s firmly seated so it doesn’t tip over when you start working with it.

Feed the cable into your pipe–it should go in smoothly if the blockage isn’t too bad.

If the cable doesn’t go into your drain or if it becomes jammed, stop and call a plumber.

Step 2 – Add the Electric Drain Snake

Turn on your electric drain snake. Move the head in and out of your sink a few times to help remove any blockage.

If you’re using a manual drain snake, turn off the power once you’ve moved the tool up and down 3-4 times. This will release the clog by forcing it through the opening at the top of the pipe. Then, pull out the drain snake–you may need to use your hands to help it through if you can’t fit it back through easily.

If you’re using an automatic drain snake, stop the motor once you’ve pulled the head in and out 2-3 times (unless there’s still a lot of resistance). You should be able to release the clog that way or by using a plunger. If you can’t, call a professional plumber.

Step 3 – Feeding the Snake Down the Drain

Once your drain is clear, plug it and feed the snake down your drain or sewer pipe. You can use either a hand crank or an electric drill to rotate the cable while you work it into the opening of your mainline (if there’s no stopper in place).

Step 4 – Removing the Snake

Once you’ve got 2-3 twists in, release the cable and pull it up by hand (if you’re using a manual snake) or with an electric drill (if you’re using an electric one). If your drain is still clogged, repeat the process.

Step 5 – Flushing Your Drain Once the snake has come out of your drain, flush your drain with hot water for a few minutes. If possible, wait until the next day to use your sink or tub to prevent an unpleasant odor from lingering.

If you have recurring clogs, consider pouring several gallons of boiling water down your drain once a month. This will help break up fatty deposits over time so they don’t clog your pipes.


Blockages in drains and sewer lines can be frustrating and costly to repair. But there are some easy fixes (like using a plunger or drain snake) that you can do on your own! Just remember to be patient when it comes to unclogging a mainline–it could take more than one try.

How to Unstop a Double Kitchen Sink Drain:

1. Pour half a cup of baking soda and half a cup of vinegar into both drains.

2. Let the solution sit in the sinks for an hour or two (longer, if possible) to help loosen any grease or food buildup that’s clogging your drainpipes.

3. After the time has passed, pour a pot of boiling water down each drain to flush out any remaining debris.

4. Flush the sinks with cold water to ensure that no residue from the baking soda and vinegar is left behind.

5. Pour a mixture of 1/2 cup salt and 1/2 cup baking soda into both drains.6. Wait for the salt-baking soda mixture to sit in your drains for a few minutes to absorb any moisture that may be lingering (this will help prevent mold).

7. After five minutes, pour another pot of boiling water down each drain.

8. Flush the sinks with cold water one more time before using them again.

Common mistakes while using a drain snake

Mistake 1 – You have to apply a lot of pressure while using the drain snake, but that will only complicate things.

Mistake 2 – Trying to feed too much cable down at once. It’s better if you work in small sections for an easier pull.

Mistake 3 – Rushing the process and not allowing enough time for the cable to do its job.

Mistake 4 – Putting the drain snake in at an angle or using too much weight when you try to feed it down. It’s better to go straight down and use slow, steady pressure only.

How to choose the right drain snake?

Choosing the right drain snake can be a little tricky, but there are some things you should know before buying one.

First, make sure your sink or tub can accommodate the size of your drain snake. The standard length is 8 feet (2.4 m), but longer and shorter models exist for those who need them–so make sure you get one with enough length for your needs.

Also, consider how flexible your drain snake will need to be to reach clogs that may occur further down the line. A more flexible cable means getting into tight spaces without too much trouble, so look for something that’s about 0-1″ (0-2 cm) thick.

Finally, choose a product with lots of attachments if you know you’ll need them for future use.

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