If your plug is blocked and you have tried clearing it using other methods, you may want to use a drain snake. Drain snakes are easy to use and if you do not know how, you are in the right place. In this article, we will learn how to use a drain snake to clear a plughole.

Drain Snake

What is a Drain Snake?

A Drain Snake, also known as a plumbing snake or an auger, is a tool that is used to clear blockages in plumbing pipes, particularly those that are difficult to reach. It is a long, flexible metal cable with a spiral end that is inserted into the pipe to break up and remove the blockage. Drain snakes come in different sizes and can be manual or powered. They are often used for clearing clogs in sinks, toilets, and bathtub drains, as well as main drain lines. Drain snakes (Amazon link – opens in a new tab) are an effective method to remove blockages that can’t be cleared with other tools such as a plunger, a zip-it tool or a wire hanger.

It is a tool that is commonly used by plumbers and should be handled with caution as it can cause damage to the pipes if not used properly.

How to Use a Drain Snake

Drain snakes are easy to use and they can be used by anyone at all. They are quite easy to master so follow our instructions and you are away.

Step 1: Prepare Your Tools

The first step in clearing a blocked bathtub drain is to gather the tools you will need. These include a plumbing snake and a pair of pliers.

A plumbing snake is a long, flexible rod that can be inserted into the drain to break up and remove blockages. Pliers can be used to help remove any debris that may be caught in the drain.

Step 2: Remove the Drain Cover

The next step is to remove the drain cover. This can typically be done by simply lifting it up or unscrewing it. If the cover is chrome and difficult to remove, cover it carefully and remove it with pliers. Be sure to place the cover in a safe place where it won’t get lost or damaged.

Note: Many plugholes are fixed in place and not able to be removed and if that is the case, move to step 3.

Step 3: Run Hot Water

Before using the plumbing snake, run hot water down the drain for a few minutes. This can help to loosen any blockages and make it easier to remove them.

Blocked Plug Hole
Blocked Plug Hole

Step 4: Use the Plumbing Snake

Insert the plumbing snake into the drain, making sure to push it through any blockages. Turn the handle of the snake to break up and remove any clogs.

Be careful not to force the snake too hard as it can damage pipes. If you encounter resistance, try to gently move the snake back and forth to clear the blockage.

Step 5: Check for Remaining Blockages

Once you’ve run the plumbing snake through the drain, remove it and check for any remaining blockages. Use pliers to remove any debris that may be caught in the drain.

Step 6: Run More Hot Water

Once the blockage has been cleared, run hot water down the drain for a few minutes to flush out any remaining debris. This will also help to ensure that the drain is functioning properly.

Step 7: Replace the Drain Cover

Once the drain is clear, replace the drain cover. Make sure it is securely in place and that it is not leaking.


Clearing a blocked plughole can be a simple task if you have the right tools and know the proper techniques. By using a drain snake, you can quickly and easily clear a blocked bathtub drain and get your tub working properly again. Remember to use caution when working with plumbing snakes and other tools, and always be sure to call a professional if you encounter any problems or are unsure about how to proceed. We also have a list of other creative ways to clear drains inside your home.

How to Use a Drain Snake to Clear a Plughole Infographic

Plumbing Wizard Tips

“Always wear gloves and safety goggles when using a drain snake to protect yourself from potential hazards!”

“Start by feeding the snake into the pipe slowly and carefully, making sure to push it through any blockages!”

“Use a slow and steady turning motion when using the snake to break up the blockage, avoid using too much force as it can damage the pipes!”

“Make sure to choose the right size of the snake for the size of the pipe, using a snake that is too small may not be able to clear the blockage while using one that is too large can damage the pipes!”

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a drain snake and how does it work?

A drain snake is a long, flexible metal cable with a spiral end that is inserted into a pipe to break up and remove blockages. It works by breaking up the blockage and pushing it through the pipe, allowing water to flow freely.

What types of blockages can a drain snake clear?

Drain snakes are effective in clearing blockages caused by hair, soap scum, food particles, and other debris. Larger drain snakes can also be used to clear blockages in main drain lines.

How do I choose the right size of drain snake for my pipe?

Small handheld drain snakes can be used on indoor pipes such as sink or bath plugs. Larger snakes can be used for main drains that are outside.

Do I need any special equipment to use a drain snake?

Basic equipment such as gloves and safety goggles are recommended when using a drain snake. Additionally, depending on where you are using it, a bucket should be placed nearby to catch any water that may spill out during the process.

Is it safe to use a drain snake?

Drain snakes can be safe to use when used properly, but they can also cause damage to pipework if not used correctly.

Can I use a drain snake if I have a septic system?

Drain snakes can be used on septic systems, but it’s important to consult with a professional plumber to ensure that it is safe to use in your specific situation.

How often should I use a drain snake?

It’s not necessary to use a drain snake on a regular basis. Only use it when there is a blockage that needs to be cleared.

Can a drain snake break a pipe?

Yes, a drain snake can potentially damage or break a pipe if used improperly, especially in older or weakened pipes. Be careful not to be too forceful, a blockage may need a little working but it is unlikely to be solid and need forcing. If you find yourself being too forceful, you may not be at the blockage and may be at a joint or bend in the pipework.


Lee Pearce is not just a master plumber; he’s a veritable Plumbing Wizard. With over 30 years of experience in the trenches of pipes and drains, Lee has become the go-to sage for DIY plumbing, saving homeowners thousands in potential call-out charges. As the founder of Plumbing Wizard, he’s dedicated to demystifying the complexities of home plumbing, offering easy-to-follow advice that stands the test of time and pressure. His online blog is a treasure trove of tips, tricks, and tutorials that empower everyday individuals to take charge of their home’s plumbing health. Lee’s practical wisdom is not just about fixing leaks; it’s about imparting confidence and self-reliance. When he’s not writing or elbow-deep in a plumbing project, Lee is passionate about educating the next generation of DIYers, ensuring that practical skills are passed down and preserved.

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