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How to use a Plumbing Snake

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How to Unclog a Toilet With a Drain Snake

It probably seems like some kind of magic. But as a licensed plumber Etobicoke I am pretty sure that you can deal with it. To unclog a toilet with a sewer drain snake, you first have to find the clog, break it down and flush it away. Since this is the final step in the process, some other things need to happen before you can unclog your toilet using a plumbing snake.

To know how to snake a toilet, you need to have some basic knowledge of the equipment involved. Two main components make up a drain snake: the cable and the end that, as you might expect, are attached to the cable. The cable is typically made from stainless steel or galvanized metal. It can be anywhere from 25 feet to 100 feet long. It’s also flexible and can be coiled up when not in use (although some plumbers prefer an alternative storage method).

The end comes in various shapes and sizes, but all work the same way. A wire or blade is housed inside the drum-shaped head at one end. The housing is shaped like a “U” and opens up just beyond the wire to allow for pushing down into the drainpipe. Along with this drum-head at the end of the snake, you’ll find another section that functions as an attachment point or handle that can be wound up and used as leverage.

Tools Required

To unclog a toilet with a drain snake, you’ll need just these simple drain cleaning tools:

  • A large pair of rubber gloves
  • A chemical drain cleaner 
  • A plunger
  • A plumbing snake (sometimes called “auger”)


Even if you think your clog is gone and you feel like you don’t need to snake the line anymore, keep going just a little bit further. You’ll probably be surprised by what happens when all of the cables come out of the drain!

How to Snake a Toilet

1. Preparation

You need to do several things before you can successfully unclog your toilet with a drain auger. Make sure the area around the toilet is clear so that, if something goes wrong, no one will be at risk of getting injured or accidentally damaging any property. You should also have some rags or towels to clean up any spills that might occur.

Also, make sure you have the right kind of snake for your toilet (see above). You can’t exactly use a “hockey puck” type drain cleaner on a regular, flushable toilet.

2. Extend the auger

Insert the auger into the toilet bowl. The best way to do this is to make sure your hands are dry and then hold the head of the snake with one hand while reaching down with the other until you can grab it around its middle.

If you try to feed the snake into the bowl, it keeps coming back out. This probably means that you’ve got a blockage. Try removing it and feeding it in again at a different angle. Slowly feed it in until you feel resistance or run out of cable.

This is usually an easy process, but if your pipe isn’t straight or there’s some kind of bend, you could run into problems. Make sure that you are constantly feeding the snake into your toilet at an even speed.

Stop when you feel resistance or run out of cable. If you stop when you’ve reached the clog, try turning the auger in either direction so that it’s facing oppositely before trying again.

3. Find the clog

Slowly feed the drain snake into your toilet bowl until you feel it hit something (or stop at resistance). When this happens, make sure that both ends of the auger are stopped, and the drum-head is turned so that it’s facing the drain clogs.

This can be a difficult step, especially if you’re unclogging your toilet with a manual auger. Make sure that you stay calm and don’t force the auger too fast. If you try to feed it in too quickly, you could break the cable or put unnecessary stress on your equipment. For best results, try to feed the auger at a controlled speed and communicate with any other plumbers who might be trying to help if you feel it hit something solid.

4. Break down the clog

Turn the drum-head by about a quarter of a turn in either direction. The idea is to grind up whatever’s stuck in the toilet line. Pull back on the auger a few inches and then turn it again before slowly feeding more cable into the drainpipe.

5. Flush to remove the clog

After you’ve broken down the clog, flush your toilet a couple of times to see if it’s been cleared. If the clog is still there, repeat the last few steps until you’ve finished unclogging your toilet.

If you are done, then that means that you have broken up the clog. Flush to see if it works. If not, reassemble your auger and add a caustic soda (yes, sound odd but it actually works). Continue until the clog has been cleared out of your toilet.

Try plunging the toilet after removing all of the contents from inside of it (such as grease, heavy paper items, built-up soap and hair clogs) to be sure that it is no more drain blockages. 

Once you are done, flush your toilet at least once to ensure all the water can pass through. If it doesn’t work, there might still be some debris in the line that needs to be removed by hand or with a plunger.