When you have a drain that’s hopelessly clogged, it’s tempting to grab a plumbing snake to take care of it. Also called pipe snakes, these coiled wire tools can be effective at clearing clogs, but they can also cause a great deal of damage if you don’t know what you’re doing.
5 Reasons to Avoid a Plumbing Snake
The top plumbing problem homeowners face is clogged drains. There are a number of tools you can use to unclog a drain, the most frequently used being a plunger, a plumbing snake and a drain auger. The last thing you want to do when using a snake to unclog a drain is to do further damage to your home. Here are five reasons you may want to hit the pause button before reaching for a plumbing snake:
#1: You May Have The Wrong Type of Snake for the Job
Most homeowners don’t realize there are several different types of tools to unclog drains, including:
Top snakes tend to be the smallest and are generally used to remove clogs in tubs, showers, bathroom sinks, washing machines and kitchen sinks. Models come in a variety of sizes and you can choose from manual or electric operation. Top snakes can be rented by the hour for stoppages of up to 25 feet and are used for clogs with minimal build-up.
As the name suggests, these augers are specially designed to handle clogged toilets when a plunger can’t do the job. A hand crank enables a flexible cable to descend into your toilet and break up an obstruction. The benefit of using an auger on a toilet is that it is less likely to scratch the porcelain of your bowl.
Mini-rooters and medium drain machines are powered by electricity via a foot pedal to descend into pipes and drains to clear obstructions with different types of cutters. This tool is used when you need to clear out an entire kitchen or a washing machine line. The length of the cable can vary, but usually extends more than 25 feet into your pipes.
Large drain machines
A large drain machine has cables that are at least 50 feet and works to clear clogs from drains that are at least three inches wide. You may encounter this problem if your trees’ root systems interfere with the pipes going from your home to the street. You can rent one of these machines by the hour.
As you can see, each tool has a different function and level of power. Some are manual while others are motorized. If you don’t know which one to use, you’re more likely to make a serious plumbing mistake.
#2: You Could Damage Your Pipes
The number one problem with do-it-yourself snaking of pipes is the potential for damage. Homes with older, galvanized pipes are especially prone to this because the end of the snake can flop around inside the pipe and scrape the sides. The aggressive force from a snake or improper use of a power snake may lead to cracks or complete pipe breakage.
#3: You May Scratch Porcelain
The metal of a plumbing snake can leave scratches in the porcelain of your toilet bowl. Not only does this look bad, but it can also lead to rusting, depending on the type of material underneath the porcelain.
#4: You Might Get Injured
All pipe snakes have the potential to cause injury when used improperly. The energy in the coiled wire may cause the tool to recoil back on you. Using a powered snake is even more dangerous because it’s easy to lose control when you don’t fully understand how to operate the device.
#5: You Risk Missing the Root of the Problem
Since you can’t see what’s causing a clogged drain, you can’t be sure if a snake is the right tool for the job. In fact, it’s possible that sticking metal down the drain could make the clog worse. If your pipes are corroded, the snake can scrape pieces off and add to the blockage. Even when you seem to have cleared the clog, there’s no guarantee that all of the obstruction is now removed.
Avoid Creating More Plumbing Problems By Relying on ABC
Given the risks, it’s best to leave the use of plumbing snakes to the pros. Contact ABC Home & Commercial Services the next time you have a clogged drain, toilet or sink and get one of our specialists on the job. Trained in the use of plumbing snakes and other tools, our licensed plumbers can take care of your problems and get your drains flowing again in no time.