How to Use a Manual Drain Auger

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Having a blocked drain pipe can be very annoying. All the dirty water just won’t go away and all the cleaning you have to do after your plumber made a mess repairing it.

All of this can be very stressing, not to mention it can also be time and money consuming.

Therefore, people tend to do their own cleaning of the clogged pipes. There are several methods you can use to do it by yourself, from homemade string hooks to using a soda.

But when neither of those methods actually give any positive effects, the next best way you can use to clear out your drain pipe is to use a drain auger, otherwise called drain or plumber snake.

In further text, we will explain what drain auger is, what types of augers are available out there and how and when to use them.

Click here for a list of the best toilet augers.

how to use a manual drain auger

What is a drain auger?

Drain auger is a long rope-like tool used for unclogging the drain pipes. There are different variations of it, but it essentially looks like a mix of flexible cable, drill or vine opener.

It is a long rope-like tool with a piercer on its end, which can drill through the material which is blocking the pipes.

It is also called “drain snake” for its flexible look and the ability to crawl through the pipe until it reaches the source of clogging.

We can distinguish two main categories of drain augers: manual or hand augers and electronic auger. You can probably guess the differences, but anyway, let’s get into it.

Electronic auger

Electronic auger, also called power auger, is kind of like a hand drill, which is capable of reaching the source of clogging and drill through it in order to remove it. It is used more for some more serious cloggings when greater power is needed.

Apart from that, it is used differently than its manual counterpart, so the using procedure is not the same.

Thus, if you are looking for instructions on how to operate power auger, you should make sure the search parameters are clear.

Toilet Auger vs Snake

Manual auger

Manual auger is a simple, yet very useful tool which is capable of getting to even the furthest clogging in your pipe.

It has a piercer on the far end of the tool and a handle which you can use to control the piercer and drill through the material which is blocking the pipe.

It functions differently than power auger and is commonly used in households. In further text, we will focus on the explanation of how to use the manual auger.

What do I need in order to use a manual drain auger?

Before you start using the auger to clean your shower pipe, you need to prepare and equip yourself with some additional tools.

Now, the first thing you need to accept is that you will get dirty and perhaps a bit wet, so you have to be prepared for it. Make sure to wear old clothes and find something to put on the bathroom floor in case some water comes out of the drain.

Related to that, you might want to protect your hands too since there might be a lot of not so pleasant materials. So make sure to get some gloves, preferably made of rubber.

Apart from that, since there could be some amount of garbage and not so pleasant materials in your drain, it could be a good idea that you bring a can or a pail to put it there.

Last and the most important, you need the manual drain auger itself, of course.

Now that you have everything you need and are well prepared for everything, let us explain how to use this simple tool to unclog your drain pipe.

How to use a manual drain auger?

After you equip yourself with all the essentials and other support equipment, you can begin working on unclogging your drain pipe with a manual drain auger.

There are several important steps to go through, and we will try to explain it as detailed as possible, so even if you are not skilled in work around the house, you will be able to do this.

Depending if you are using the auger to unclog sink or bath drain, there is one additional step to do before you start working.

In the case of sink drains, the first thing you can do is remove the p-bend, which is a distorted part of the pipe located below the sink. It is used to link the sink with the rest of the water system in the house.

The best way to remove it is with the wrench, so you don’t hurt your hand.


After you have done this, you might find the source of a clogged pipe, so there is a chance you won’t have to use the auger at all.

If, however, that is not the case or if you are dealing with a bath drain, you should follow the next steps, which could help resolve your problem.

1. Reach the clog

First of all, when you open the drain, check its entrance, in case there is anything blocking the way, but is reachable with the hand.

That way, you can save some time by removing some of the clogging with your hands, even before you start using the auger.

Next, you need to extend the auger cord by untwisting the nut. After that, you can commence entering the drain with the auger. If it won’t go any further, you need to release more cord, so it could reach the clog.

You might also need to maneuver it a bit so it could pass some curvy parts of the pipe on its way to the clog.

Once it reaches the blockade, you can start drilling through it. When the tool manages to get through the blockade, release more cord and let it go further into the pipe in order for you to check if there are any more clogged parts.


2. Removing the clog

When the auger cord is completely released, you should turn the handle to pull it back. Theoretically, most of the clog which was drilled through should now pin to the auger cord and be pulled out of the drain.

Put the dirty parts in your can or pail you brought with you.

In some cases, the clog simply refuses to be pulled out. In that case, you should try to tear it apart with the auger and then pour some hot water down the pipe, with the hope that it will catch the remaining clog and flush it out of the pipe.

You might need to repeat the process for a couple of times in order for all the clog to be completely removed from the pipe.

3. Check if you were successful

After you are done with clearing the clog out of the drain pipe, you should check if your endeavor was a success.

First, you should put the essential parts of the pipe back in case you removed some of them. Then after that is done, try flushing the water down the drain to check how it goes.

If the water is running smoothly, then congratulations are in order, because your quest was successful and you managed to unclog your drain pipe.

However, if you notice that water is not going so smoothly, then you probably didn’t do it right and the problem still exists. In that case, you should either try to repeat the process again or call the plumber.

What can I do to prevent the future cloggings?

Now that you have succeeded in removing the clogging from your drain pipe, you should probably take some steps to minimize the chance for it to return.

The most common cause of clogged drains is the hair. Hence the best way to prevent the clogging is to actually prevent the hair from getting inside the pipe.

The efficient way of doing that is the hair catcher, which you can easily get anywhere for both your sink and bathroom drains.

Another thing you can do is not to let your food remains get into the sink drain. Try not to leave the plates with food remains in your sink.

Instead, throw the remains into the trash bin or put it in some bag if you want to feed the stray dogs for example.

Conclusion: Using a Manual Drain Auger

There, now you know how to use a manual drain auger to clear out your clogged drain pipes.

Just make sure to follow our guide and prepare yourself before you start working because if you are well prepared, it would be much easier for you to do what needs to be done.

The clean drain would make your life easier. Longer shower times, which means more time to relax. That is why it is important not just to know how to clean a drain pipe, but also how to prevent it from being clogged.

Now that you are aware of all of this, you can take a better care of your drain.