How to Use a Manual Drain Auger

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Getting a clog in a drain, while it isn’t good for the plumbing, is pretty common. And it’s almost always cheaper and more efficient to take care of it yourself. It’s always best to try plunging or scooping the clog out if it close by the surface of the drain. If that doesn’t work or isn’t possible, then it is time to use a drain auger.

You might know them by the name of plumber’s snake, since you move them almost like a snake through your drainage system, and because of how they are coiled and spiraled. They are good to keep on hand because getting a clog within a drain that won’t come out with a plunger is always a possibility.

The difference between a manual auger and an electric auger

Within the names of each tool, you may be already able to tell the difference. But a manual auger is one that you crank by hand through the clog and pull it back out. With an electric drain auger, you’re able to use machine power to push it through a clog and pull it out.

Because the way you operate each tool is different, there are some slight differences between the ways you actually go through the steps of unclogging a drain with each. That’s what the main section of this article will be about, but first you’ll need to gather a few things.


Where to get an auger

Plumbing Snake Drain Snake 25 Ft, Professional Sink Snake Drain Auger for Removing Sink Clog, Heavy Duty Pipe Clog Cleaner to Snake Drain for Bathtub Drain, Kitchen Sink, Sewer, Comes with Gloves
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There are specific types of drain augers that work best with different drains, like how kitchen sinks have a specifically designed snake just for them. Before getting started, make sure you have the right one for the job.

You can buy an auger online or from your local hardware store so you’ll always have one on hand. If you don’t want to buy one to keep in case of the occasional clog, you might be able to rent one from a tool rental shop or your local hardware store. If you really want to, check in with your neighbors or friends who live nearby and ask if they have one you can borrow. Just make sure to return it if you rent or borrow one.

Materials needed

Cleaning out a drain can be messy and dirty, so here is what you’ll need to be prepared for any mess or water spillage:

  • A manual drain auger
  • Rubber gloves
  • Bucket or trash can
  • Easily washable old clothes
  • Rags or paper towels

How to snake a drain

Here are the steps you need to follow in order to snake your drain with a manual drain auger:

  • Make sure your supplies are at hand. You’ll actively be using your rubber gloves and the drain auger in many cases, but make sure the rest are in an easily accessible area for when you need them
  • Clean out the drain. I don’t mean going in and starting to unclog your drain, but see if there is any hair or other objects lodged in the uppermost part of your drainage system that you can reach and get rid of without using an auger
  • Extend the cable into drain and turn the handle. Some manual drain augers may have a setscrew keeping the cable in place within the drum, so be sure to loosen that up first
  • Continue extending the cable until it hits the clog. Once you feel the cable hit something, you’ll know where the clog is in the pipes. You are probably going to need to apply pressure as you are cranking the handle in order to get the snake past the tight curve within the trap under the sink. After this turn, the next thing you hit should be the clog
  • Rotate the snake. Continue cranking clockwise with gentle but firm pressure until it is hooked. You can check this by periodically pulling up slightly to see if you have gotten it yet. Rotating the snake itself will either break up a smaller object that isn’t very solid, or has gotten entangled within a solid clog. This makes it so you can pull out the clog or let it be washed down the drain
  • Pull out the cable and the clog. Pull the cable back by hand and dispose of the clog. Rinse off the cable and flush the drain with water running full force to ensure that it is cleared out. If it still seems clogged or it seems that you didn’t get rid of the clog or hook it, you can try again or call a plumber

Taking care of your drains

The best way to make sure you don’t run into this kind of problem again with a clog in the sink is to do your best to prevent future clogs. There are a few easy ways to do this.

  • Use a sink strainer. This is mainly for your kitchen sink, but it helps prevent many materials from washing down your drain. You could also use these in your shower or bathtub if you want to replace the current drainage cover or if it does not currently have a cover.
  • Remember that a drain is not a trash can. You can’t just let large amounts excess food left on your plates go down your kitchen sink or let loose hair down your shower or bathroom sink drains.
  • In your kitchen sink, run your garbage disposal. It may not help get rid of clogs, but it will help at least cut up a little bit of what solid waste didn’t make it into the trash


Now you know how to take care of any clogs in your sinks or drains that you may come across. It is a pretty easy process to follow, although it may be gross to actually do. That’s why you wear gloves and keep items on hand to make for a quick cleanup afterwards.

There may be occasions when you can’t get the clog out on your own, so make sure that you call a professional and don’t remain stubborn and continue trying to dislodge it on your own if you are not a plumber.

And remember, preventing the clog in the first place with drain covers and the like will significantly reduce the number of clogs you get.

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2 thoughts on “How to Use a Manual Drain Auger”

  1. Katherine Hetrick

    I’m pretty sure that my youngster dropped her rubber ball in the toilet. I usually check before using the toilet. I had diarrhea this morning and didn’t have time…before or after. I have a manual augur, but I can get past the clog. Is calling a plumber next??

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