Unclogging a Kitchen Sink Using a Drain Snake

Written by Doris Donnerman (last updated April 21, 2021)


Before starting any type of home plumbing task, you need to make sure that you have the tools necessary to accomplish the job. There are only four things that you will need in order to properly accomplish this job, and those four things are a bucket, a pair of adjustable pliers, a drain auger (or snake) and an old towel. If you do not already have a snake, you can purchase one at any department or hardware store. The price is going to range between $6.00 and $39.00 depending on brand, type, and which store you purchase it at.

Once you have these four items, you are ready to begin the job.

  1. When considering whether you want to snake your drain, you need to make sure that you know what kind of pipes your plumbing is made from. Are the pipes metallic or from PVC? This is an important thing to know, since if the pipes are made from PVC you could potentially break them if you are not careful when removing the blockage.
  2. Look under the sink to see if you can find the water shutoff valve. It is going to look similar to what you use to turn on or off your sprinklers. You want to make sure that you have turned off the water since if you haven't you are going to have a really big mess on your hands.
  3. After you shut off the water, set your bucket under the bend in the sink's pipe. This bend in the pipe is what is commonly known as the trap. This is the area where the blockage typically forms, since it is designed to keep things from coming back up the drain.
  4. Use the adjustable pliers to loosen the nuts that are holding the pipe bend in place at both ends. As you are loosening the pipe water and gunk is going to be coming out from the loosened pipe. Don't worry; this is why you have the bucket under the pipe. Simply let everything fall into the bucket, including the pipe bend.
  5. Take your drain auger and stick it into the end of the drainpipe that goes into the wall. Place the corkscrew end in and turn the handle clockwise as you go. You are going to keep feeding the snake into the wall until you have reached the blockage. Gently but firmly push the snake through the blockage. Once you have pushed through the blockage, reverse the snake and it should pull some of the blockage back out of the pipe. Let the clog drop into your bucket. This is going be messy, so this is why you have that towel. Be ready to clean up the mess by using the towel to wipe off the snake as you bring it back out of the drainpipe.
  6. If there was no blockage in the wall, check the pipe bend that you previously removed. You can clear this out by simply pushing the end of the snake through the trap or by using at table knife to dislodge any blockage.
  7. Replace the trap and tighten the nuts that hold the trap in place. Do not over-tighten them, but make sure they are snug enough that there will be no leakage around the connection.
  8. Turn your water back on and run some water through the drain. If you successfully removed the clog in the drain, the water should empty normally. If you successfully tightened the nuts around the trap, you should not have any leakage around the trap.

Author Bio

Doris Donnerman

Doris is a jack of all trades, writing on a variety of topics. Her articles have helped enlighten and entertain thousands over the years. ...


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What is three more than 6?

2014-12-28 14:58:17


I've been in this situation when I was first learning to use my plumber's snake / auger. I have found that there are two cases where I will get into this situation, and perhaps knowing about them can help you get past it.

1.) Symptom: I reached a junction in the pipe and can go no further, but when I turn the snake I get sudden bursts of movement, followed by it being hard to turn again. Cause: This was caused by my snake doubling back on itself, and the bursts of movement are caused by having built up enough pressure for the whole mess of cable to flip over in the pipe. This seems to happen when you reach a point of resistance while feeding the snake into the pipe and then push through it. Prevention: Never push through resistance with a coil-based snake. In this case, the cure I've found is to pull it back out of the pipe so it's not doubled up anymore. Then, feed it into the pipe, stopping when you find resistance and rotating it many, many times. The screw-shaped tip should drill through/walk over whatever is in its way if you continue gently pushing it forward while turning the snake. The idea is to let the tip of the cable screw its way over or through anything in its way, with only the least pushing. Every 40 turns of the cable I would push it a little to see if it was past the blockage.

2.) Symptom: My snake is not going any deeper and I can't get it to turn unless I pull it violently back out of the pipe a few inches. It keeps getting stuck on something. Cause: Your snake went through the side of your pipe, into some rusted pipe wall, or into some objects your family dropped down the drain. I once dropped a steel inline-skate bearing casing down the drain which was the exact width of the pipe. The plumber tried to snake it out for hours. God only know how he pushed it through to the other side. Prevention: Screens over drain openings help. Not having old rotten pipe or soft plastic pipe helps with not drilling through the side of it. Making sure the sharp tip of your snake it slightly narrower of a loop than the widest part (basically, the sharpened tip shouldn't be scraping the pipe as it slides through). Solution: Walk around your house looking for places you have a puddle on the floor and replace the broken pipe.

These tips came from my years of clearing clogs as an amatuer, and I hope it's slightly helpful. It's gotten a lot easier with practice and having a good snake and not one with an S shaped crank.

2013-12-01 19:59:55


So what was the tip for Tim...and for Armando ? I am having the same problem!!!ARGH!!!

2013-10-08 14:02:47


".. at over 8 feet I seem to have hit another elbow. While applying presure to the line I have spun clockwise, and counter clockwise over and over but the line will feed no more.."

So what can i do if I followed the above tip, but found myself in Tim's predicament?

2013-10-08 13:59:51


".. at over 8 feet I seem to have hit another elbow. While applying presure to the line I have spun clockwise, and counter clockwise over and over but the line will feed no more.."

Tim, so what did you do next? I'm in the same predicament.

2013-02-28 08:12:23


I seem to have blockage further down the line. I sent the auger into the line and hit the first elbow at about 6 inches, got by that and at about 2 feet hit another elbow. This was hard for me to get past but finally did, at over 8 feet I seem to have hit another elbow. While applying presure to the line I have spun clockwise, and counter clockwise over and over but the line will feed no more. The auger line is greasy and slimy but has no big chuncks of anything. I guess I could be using the tool wrong. The last time it drained properly was over a week ago but my wife put a lot down the garbage disposal while making a salad. However I have used many different types of drain cleaner including Draino Max, Liquid plumber and still it drains at trickle. I have a disposal and dishwasher on the other side and cant run the dishwasher because the drain water backs up. Bummed!