What is a plastic drain snake and how does it work?
A plastic drain snake is approximately 20 inches in length and has outward barbs for grabbing a clog that is relatively close to the drain surface. This plumbing accessory is a must have for every shower drain.
How does a plastic drain snake work?
If the shower drain is flat; like in a shower stall, the strainer will need to be removed. If you don’t see screws just use a flat screwdriver to pry the edge up to remove the cover. Otherwise, be careful not to drop the screws down the drain. Once the drain cover is off, insert the plastic drain snake all the way into the drain to the top barb closest to the handle. Give the snake a few turns and then pull slowly out. Remove any hair or debris and repeat a few times.
Plastic drain snakes also work great for pop-up tub drains. Most modern tub drains have a lifting mechanism that acts as the stopper. While it this may be tricky for some, the stopper will need to be removed for this method to be effective. The simple method is to press down on the stopper firmly while turning counter clockwise. More times than not, the drain stopper will unscrew out allowing you to use the same method as you did on the shower. You just reverse the procedure to reinstall the stopper when finished. Unfortunately, if you have the old trip lever style, with a concealed stopper, this method won’t work.
The most common use for a barbed drain snake is clearing a pop-up lavatory drain. Like the tub drain, removing the pop-up stopper is going to be the easiest way to accomplish this task, although sometime the pop-up will open up enough to allow enough clearance. First try and just lift the pop-up stopper out of the drain. If it is unsuccessful, you are going to have to loosen the pop-up lever under the sink to allow the stopper to come loose. Place a small bucket under the drain just to be safe. Next, on the back side of the assembly under the sink you should be able to see a rod and linkage pointing out of the back of the drain towards the wall. Holding the rod in is usually a hex nut. Loosen that nut by turning counterclockwise until you feel it come loose in your hand. Slide the rod straight back while lifting the plunger out at the same time (it might help to have an extra set of hands to assist). You should only need to slide the rod out 1/2” to 3/4”, so be gentle. One the pop-up stopper is out of the way hand tightens the nut back onto the drain assembly. This will keep water from spilling out while you are working above. Just like the shower and tub, insert the plastic drain snake into the drain and work it around to pick up as much hair and debris as possible. Remove and clean the hair off and repeat. Once finished, loosen the nut and reverse the procedure you used to remove the
How do you know when you need to call a plumber?
If the water in the shower is slow to drain and you have used a plastic drain snake with little to no results, the clog may be further down then the snake can reach. In this case, it would be best to call a plumber to snake the drain and completely clear the clogged line.
Call to schedule an Appointment with Andy’s Pipe Dream:
Kansas City Metro Area Plumbing Needs Call: 913-677-0200
Colorado (Northern Front Range) Plumbing Needs Call : 970-208-8380