How to Use a Plumbing Snake

Plumbing problems can be frustrating especially if a plumber is not available to take care of the situation. However, with skills and tools to work with, a DIY plumbing solution is possible. One piece of equipment you might want to invest in is a plumbing snake. This is the perfect tool to use if the plunger or cleaning the trap is of no help. With a handle on one end and a coiled spiral metal wire, it can break up even a dense clog caused by tree roots and the like. Also referred to as an electric eel or toilet jack, it is a tool used to remedy difficult clogging problems. Here is a step-by-step guide to use this helpful tool to unclog the toilet:

Step 1:

Wear rubber gloves with good grips to be able to work comfortably.

Step 2:

Turn of the valve that sends water to the tank to ensure it will not overflow even if you accidentally flush it. This can be found behind the toilet bowl or just right next to it. Shut it off by turning it counter-clockwise.

Step 3:

Holding the end with the metal wire on one hand, insert it into the open pipe or toilet drain. Ensure that you do so slowly through the opening to prevent damaging the pipe.

Step 4:

After a portion of the plumber’s snake is inside the opening, start to turn the crank to rotate the helix and push the snake towards the opening, further. This might take a few rotations to send the wire down the pipe.

Step 5:

Add some water to the toilet if you feel the snake is taking time to move forward until it reaches the location where the clog is.

Step 6:

Once the end touches the clog, you will feel some resistance. Break the clog by pushing and wiggling the wire while you push and pull the snake to loosen it. If the clog is caused by gunk, pull back the wire by rotating the crank the opposite way. Clean the end and repeat steps 3-6.

Step 7:

Remove the gunk and other materials by allowing the end of the snake pass through the obstruction and slowly pull the snake out. If resistance is still present, you can either pull the broken waste materials out or push them through the pipe.

Step 8:

After the clog is removed, remove the plumber’s snake and get a pail of water to pour it into the bowl manually. The force caused by gravity will remove the remaining gunk and let it flow down the drain.

Step 9:

Turn on the valve to let water flow and flush the toilet to check if the toilet has been unclogged.


Rotating the crank will result to the metal wire breaking and chopping the objects, gunk and materials causing obstruction. If the object is solid, chances are, this will be entangled to the snake. Conversely, if the object is not broken or shredded totally, pulling the snake will remove the clog.

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