How to unclog a toilet with a drain snake

How to unclog a toilet with a drain snake
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Clogged toilets are a pain in the backside. But as much as we hate to admit it, it has become the reality of many households. 

Sooner or later, someone will flush the wrong item down the sewer, and you’ll be stuck with a one-time or recurring clog dilemma.

Have we successfully convinced you that clogging is a real issue in many households? Then it’s time to discuss the different ways to prepare for it.

Today we’re introducing you to the toilet auger!


Toilet snakes are a type of auger used for dislodging toilet clogs. Although it is technically different from standard  augers, we’ll use them interchangeably since most people use and understand them as such

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What is a toilet snake?

A toilet auger, also called a toilet snake, plumber’s auger, etc, is a plumbing instrument used for freeing clogs or blockages from conduit plumbing system. It can be used for freeing up a blocked bathroom vent, or toilet sewer.

In the context of this article, we’ll be describing the auger or toilet snake mainly as an instrument to free clogged toilet.

There are different variations of toilet augers, (by the way, not all augers are for plumbers.) and they’re known by slightly different name variations. 

You might have heard of plumber’s auger, toilet auger, toilet snake, …

Auger’s, either manual or motorized, are a professional equipment. And as such, should be handled by a trained personel.

When handled incorrectly, they can damage your toilet bowl, or create leakages in your pipe. 

Note that you do not need some formal schooling to operate it. But just like every equipment, they’re meant to be handled by a trained personel. Failure to do so might still yield the right result, but also damages can be incurred in the process. This is not to scare you, its just a “caveat emptor”!

Now let’s go to the meat of this article: How to unclog a toilet with a toilet auger

How to unclog a toilet with a toilet auger

How to unclog a toilet with a drain snake

Operating an auger is simple. Motorized ones need more care and expertize. In fact, if you’ve not been trained, you should refrain from using it. Manual augers, on the other hand, are easy to operate, needs less proficiency and are relatively safer to use.

Here are 6 simple steps to use an auger:

  1. Locate a toilet auger.
  2. Insert it into the toilet bow, until you get to the base of the bowl.
  3. Now it’s time to unwind the auger from it’s handle, or upper lever. (this will slowly unwind the metal leg from the auger, extending deeper into the toilet trap with each winding motion)
  4. This will dislodge the particles causing the clog, or push any article clogging the toilet down the sew line.
  5. At this point, the toilet should drain and the water level subsides.
  6. Flush the toilet the second time to remove fecal particles remaining in the bowl and on the auger.

Can I use a snake to unclog a toilet?

Toilet snakes are one of the most effective tools to unclog a toilet. On a personal note, I will recommend sticking to a manual snake. This is for obvious reasons:

  1. It needs less expertise
  2. It gets the job done
  3. You’re likely to damage your porcelain and drain pipes using it.

There is a downside to the snake though, you might not readily find it in your neighborhood equipment stores. Or maybe it is not even a common household name.

But if you can lay your hands on it, by all means use it. Even if you have a plunger, I’ll still recommend using a snake or toilet auger as your first option, as it has a higher success rate.

Why wont my toilet unclog with a snake

Toilet snakes are one of the most reliable way to  unclog your toilet. Without giving a raw estimate, you can rest assure that a vast amount of toilet clog can be unclogged with this appliance.

However, there are times when it just doesn’t do the job. Why would a toilet snake not unclog your toilet? Here are 5 common reasons

  1. Depth of clog
  2. Component stuck in toilet trap
  3. Type of snake

Depth of clog

The deep in the sewer the clog occurs will determine whether you can unclog it with a snake. Although many clogging occurs in the wc s trap or p trap (depending on your wc model), some clogging still occurs deep in the sewer lines. Using a snake for this type of clog will prove ineffective.

Toilet snake comes in different length. First check the length of your snake. Many snakes are barely 3 feet long. This lenght is usually effective at unclogging blockages that occur in the toilet trap. Anything farther is beyond its reach.

Of course for more effectiveness you can opt for snakes that at 25 feet or more. But know that these are usually electric augers that are difficult to handle by the average home owner. Also blockages that occur at this depth are better handled by a plumber.

And even if the snake is long enough, it might not have the push force to unclog a clog that occur at this lenght down the sewer pipes.

If your snake is unable to unclog your toilet, don’t panic. Before concluding that your snake isn’t working, first call a plumber. He will troubleshoot the problem and locate the point of clogging. 

Cause of blockage

How to unclog a toilet with a drain snake
gadget on toilet

Just as snakes are limited in lenght, they are also limited in thickness, and hence can not push every obstacle down the drain.

Children, for example, are likely to throw items down the toilet. The size of these items will determine if the snake will be able to push it down the drain. An eyeglass for example, might get stuck in the trap will trying to push it down. 

Other items, might not be as long as an eyeglass, but their weight might be too heavy to be pushed down the drain.

If this is your case, discontinue any further attempt to free the clog. It is time to invite a plumber, and to do so quickly before further buildup.

Type of snake

This is not a worthy mention, but should still be mentioned anyway. The type of snake will determine what work it can do.

For example, some toilet snakes are narrower, and hence might not be strong enough to push certain obstacles, however, they are design with spikes or other form of catcher. This snakes are designed to pull obstacles out of the drain of toilet and not to push them down the drain.

Items like women hair, wipes etc are some of the objects that these snake types can pull out.

There is still a more modern variation of the auger. It uses pressure air blast to dislodge clogged sediments. This is relatively new to the market, and its effectiveness hasn’t been proven, but it is worth a try

I will recommend opting for metal cable snakes, without spikes. But if you have those with spikes, and are unable to unclog your toilet, it just might be that you are using the wrong tool for the wrong job.

Can snaking a toilet make it worse?

How to unclog a toilet with a drain snake
sad woman

This is less likely to happen. Although snaking a drain might not successfully unclog the drain, it is less likely to make things worse. 

In worse case scenarios, the toilet might unclog partially, or not at all. But it is unlikely to worsen your drain issue. 

If you still have issues unclogging your toilet with a snake, you can opt for other measures to unclog your toilet.

You can find more articles on ways to unclog your clogged toilet.

  1. How to flush a clogged toilet
  2. How to unclog a toilet with dish soap
  3. How to unclog a toilet with a hanger
  4. How to unclog a toilet with saran wrap

Usually it does not. Instead it frees your drain… most of the time. There are times (only a handful of times), however, when snaking your toilet can make it worse. These are:

  1. The toilet snake can push objects till they get stuck in the trap corners.
  2. Improper handling of electric augers can damage your porcelein toilet bowl and caused the pipes to to leak.

What snake size do you need for a toilet?

Ideally you should look for a 6 foot drain auger. And unless you’re a plumber yourself or know how to handle electric augers, you should stick to the manual snakes that are easier to operate.

There are different sizes of toilet snakes. The size you choose should depend on the depth of the blockage. Generally speaking, toilet snakes should be used to remove clogs that occur in a toilet’s trap.

If it’s farther than the drain, for instance, in the drain pipes, I’ll recommend contacting a plumber to resolve the issue.

Does toilet snake work better than a plunger?

This topic was answered in detail in this article, you can check it out. Also it is sometimes a matter of personal preference. Also many people are familiar with how a plunger works, but may have barely heard of a toilet snake.

That said, let’s get to the answer. 

  1. Toilet snakes have better success rate, 
  2. Can unclog toilet at deeper depth, and 
  3. Can be used to easily work on clog toilets with poo in them.

These can often not be said of a plunger which is not so successful in freeing up stubborn ones that are lower down the toilet.

Also it can be quite messy to unclog a toilet with poop still in it.

From these perspectives, we can conclude that toilet snakes work better than your regular plunger.

Can you damage a toilet with a snake

It is safe to use most manual augers. Electric augers, on the other hand, need more expertise. When handled improperly, you can damage your porcelain toilet bowl or the sewer pipes.

ItemBuy them here
1Toilet drain augerAmazon store
2Electric auger snakeAmazon store

Can a drain snake break a pipe

Well, this depends on

  1. The type of snake used: generally, it is difficult for your regular manual drain snake to break your pipe. But this cannot be said of it’s electric or motorized counterpart.

It is not unusual for persons to report pipe leakage or even outright breakage after using an electric drian snake. This is especially so when the snake or auger is handled by an inexperienced person.

This takes us to the next point.

  1. The experience level of the handler: If experience is a tool, then it’ll likely be the most important tool needed to unclog a toilet. Though most snakes are easy to use, understanding how to operate will go a long way in avoiding accidents such as breaking pipes.

This is more important if the snake is a motorized one. Manual snakes though need less expertise to handle and are less likely to break your pipe.

For the everyday householder, I have one suggestion: stick to manual drain snakes to reduce the chance of breaking your toilet pipe while unclogging your toilet.

Conclusion

Toilet snakes are one of the most reliable tools to unclog toilet. If you experience frequent blockages, you should consider having one. While this is not the only way to unclog toilets. Most people have seen that when all else fails, you’re left with two more options: use a toilet snake, or call a plumber.

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