While it might seem like a sure-fire way to save money, using a snake/auger to clean a drain can pose serious risks to your home. What exactly is an “auger” or snake? It’s essentially a steel cable device that is pushed forcefully into a drain with a corkscrew-type motion. The pointed end twirls into clogs, pushing blockages down the drain, or pulling it out through an opening.
Here are the different kinds of snakes:
- Top snakes. The simplest of these are hand-cranked, where the user manually pushes the wire coil into the drain.
- Toilet augers which can be simple $10 devices or drill-operated machines.
- Drum-style machines that use powerful motors to force cables into the pipes. (these are the kinds typically used by pro plumbers)
Potential risks associated with using an auger:
- Using the wrong tool for the job. An experienced plumber knows how to select the right auger/drain cleaner for the job. For example, they know that they should use toilet augers that feature a protective sleeve in order to prevent scratches to porcelain. They also know that powerful augers can damage older galvanized pipes due to scratching, which can even lead to a breakage.
- Potential for injury. Clearing a clog or roots from a main waste line requires a powerful cable drum auger – one with the right attachment. These machines spin at a high rate of speed, and can catch digits in inexperienced users’ hands. The chopping end of the cable also poses a risk as it comes racing out of the pipe.
- Making the problem worse. Plumbers, such as Jeff Belleville of JB Plumbing, use expensive cameras to peer into pipes to assess the problem. For example, a clog could be the result of corroded pipes that are blocked due to chunks of peeling pipe metal. Using an auger could exacerbate the problem, as it could peel off additional chunks of metal. In such a case, a power stream of water and/or a re-pipe would be the proper course of action.
- Stuck augers. A serious headache for do-it-yourselfers is when the cable gets stuck as a result of drain auger use. It might catch on a piece of metal, or not be able to pull out properly through acute pipe joints. Some people even use the wrong sized auger for their pipes, which can cause the auger to “corkscrew” around itself, worsening the clog. Options for a stuck snake include trying to reverse it with a drill, or using a truck winch to pull it out. This creates another safety concern as the auger cable can snap or quickly fly out of the pipe. Professionals experience caught auger cables, as well, but it happens much less often because they understand the risks and proceed with caution. What’s more, when something happens, their experience helps them quickly react, which can save pipes and reduce costs.
When it comes to many home repair and improvement projects, it’s important to remember that “you better know what you’re doing.” While most homeowners can clear out a simple toilet clog or help clear a slow drain, larger clogs and root encroachments require professional assistance. Be very careful using snakes and augers to avoid turning a small problem into a big, expensive mess.
With us, you can expect upfront pricing; fast, free estimates; licensed, bonded and insured plumbers who are neat, polite, and well trained. We use state-of-the-art tools and equipment and are proud of the fact our services are free from hidden costs like travel charges. If you call JB Plumbing today, 24/7, you will speak directly to a plumber instead of a telephone answering service. At JB Plumbing, we are experts in residential and commercial plumbing as well as construction. Call today to schedule an appointment. (909) 593-2194.