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So you’ve got a hopelessly blocked drain but you’re not quite ready to call in the professionals. You’ve boiled the kettle and poured it down the offending drain with a magical mix of bi-carb and vinegar – with no luck. The chemical drain cleaner said no, ten minutes of elbow-grease with the plunger didn’t work, and shouting expletives merely resulted in the drain laughing back at you. But don’t give up yet – because you’re yet to meet a drain snake.

Otherwise known in the business as a plumbers eel, plumbing snake, electric eel or drain eel, this nifty and super-affordable hand-held contraption may have a lot of names but it’s great for a single reason – it really can help to unblock a stubbornly blocked drain. In fact, every plumber will have one or two in their van – you can be sure of that!

But if this is all news to you and you have no idea how to use a drain snake, Brisbane’s blocked drain plumbing masters are here to help! If you’re a bit of a whiz at simple DIY and saving a few bucks on a plumber call-out sounds attractive, we have a great little crash course for you.

Drain snake or electric eel?

First, however, we need to clear up a common misconception: a drain snake is NOT an electric eel. Google the latter and you’ll find a big, powered contraption on wheels that is in effect the ‘daddy’ of the drain snake world – the electric eel. What we’re talking about today is a hand-held, unpowered version – the type of drain snake Bunnings will stock for a great price. However, it’s based on the same principle of cables or coils that slither like an eel or a snake into your drain to mush up whatever’s blocking it.

How to use a drain snake by following these 5 steps:

1. Insert the drain snake

It’s easy to find the ‘head’ of the snake in order to guide it into the blocked drain. You may have to wiggle and push just a little bit, but if it won’t go down unless you really force it, take caution – you don’t want to damage the pipe.

2. Uncoil the drain snake

Apart from the snake’s head, the other obvious feature of the drain eel is the handle. As you turn it at a steady, consistent pace, your wound-up snake will begin to slither down your drain. Once you detect it may have reached the blockage, stop and proceed to step 3.

3. Break up that blockage!

The major reasons for blocked drains are caused by a steady build-up of all that gunk, grease, soap, hair and general muck and other debris that heads south down your drain every time you use it. Now that your snake has stopped uncurling, give it a final little push and wind it back a few inches or so. Then wind it forwards a few inches, wiggling and pulling and pushing as you do so. Use your instincts to break up the blockage that has your drain all backed up.

Warning!: If you feel great resistance, or hear or detect metal grinding and scraping away, stop immediately. What you don’t want to do is break up your pipe!

4. Is your blockage gone?

If all you had was a simple drain blockage, you should be able to wind the drain snake back up and marvel at your DIY handiwork. Just be careful as you do that winding up that the snake’s sharp head doesn’t damage the drain entrance as it re-emerges.

5. Time to call Brisbane’s best!

Is your drain now beautifully unblocked? If so, well done – but if not, don’t panic. Actually, your blockage may not have been a simple build-up of drain gunk, but:

If so, you may need to take advantage of Brisbane Plumbing and Drainage’s renowned, skilled, fully-licensed and highly experienced local Brisbane plumbers! We have all the specialist gear, tools, technology, knowledge, techniques and tricks that means no matter what’s lurking inside your drains, it will be no sweat for us. Give us a call and we’ll pledge upfront to offer fair, fixed pricing and a workmanship guarantee – and a seamlessly flowing drain at the end of the process! Give us a call or drop us a message right now and we’ll be there in a flash.