How to Get a Drain Snake Around a Corner

Crushing clogs the right way means having to get your auger down your pipes until it reaches the clog.  How to get a drain snake around a corner requires a bit of luck but mostly skill and patience. 

Most clogs happen at the P trap or other bends in the pipes. 

So, how do you get your drain snake around a corner? 

how to get drain snake around a corner
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How to Make a Plumbing Snake Turn Corners 

A corner in a pipe is called an elbow.  They can be harsh elbows like almost 90 degree bend (such as your P trap) or a smaller elbow (less than 90 degrees).  Either way, debris will gather in those areas.

Getting your snake or drain auger through an elbow can be a challenge for even an experienced DIYer.  

How to get a drain snake through an elbow or corner in your drain pipe requires a bit of elbow grease on your part. Getting your drain auger around a corner just requires a bit of technique.

Make sure when you wind your drain snake into the pipe that you are rotating it the whole time.  Rotate your plumbing/drain snake clockwise as you work it into the pipe. This winding motion with your drain auger helps it to make its way through corners in your pipes.

If you feel your snake getting jammed on an elbow, apply steady downward pressure as you wind the cord around.  You should feel your snake get through after a few cranks of your cable. This can happen no matter what drain you are working on, including your bathtub drain.

What is a P Trap?

p trap
P Trap Under My Bathroom Sink

A P trap is the big main elbow in your drains that you can see when you open up the kitchen or bathroom cupboards under your sink.  The P trap is built that way so that is hold water in it.  

P traps are a building code requirement.  The water in the P trap blocks any gases from coming up from the main drains and getting inside your house.  

Once you see how big of a corner the P trap is, you’ll understand how gunk and debris can gather there.  Do yourself a favor and place a drain catcher in your sink to catch any weird stuff.  This way it won’t find its way into your drains and P trap.

How to get a Snake Past the P Trap 

Will a drain snake go through a trap? Thankfully, most clogs are either before or at the start of the P trap. If your clog is in the P trap, or just past it, follow our instructions below to get your plumbing snake to turn the corner or elbow through your P trap.

Your snake is designed with a thinner cable than a toilet auger just so that it can get through the smaller diameter of your drain pipes, elbows and traps. 

Since your P trap is just another elbow or corner in your drain, you would use the same procedure to get your snake past the P trap that you use to get it through any other corner.  Apply steady pressure while rotating the cable until you feel it go through.

Don’t use chemical decloggers in PVC pipes. First, try running some HOT water down the pipes for 5 mins or so to see if that melts away your clog. If not, then grab your drain snake.

Can a Drain Snake Break a Pipe? 

Yes and No.  Before you start using your drain snake you should know what kind of pipes you’ll be working with.  If your pipes are made of PVC you need to be careful.  PVC is plastic and while you can use your snake or auger on PVC pipes, taken extra caution not to be too rough when moving or spinning your snake cable around in your pipes. 

Plumbing in older houses is made of galvanized pipe which if scratched by your drain snake, can begin to rust. Also, older pipes will tend to wear down on the bottoms of the pipes and at the fittings. Working too aggressively with an auger inside those types of pipes could beak them. Debris could also break loose and cause future clogs.

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Can You Put a Drain Snake Down the Toilet?

The only thing you should be using on your toilet is a toilet auger.  They are specially designed to work in the larger drain size and come with a protective plastic tube to keep your bowl from getting all scratched up. 

They have a bulb head that works to grab complicated clogs and remove them.  Drain snake cords are made of thinner metal, to work through smaller diameter drains.  

I mean you CAN use your drain snake on your toilet if you’re desperate.  Let’s be honest, if you’ve got 1 toilet and 5 people in your house, getting that toilet unclogged by any means necessary is the goal here.  Just be super careful to not scratch your toilet bowl and then go and buy a toilet auger for the next time it clogs up. If you’re about to try this, here is our post on how to use a drain auger on your toilet.

Can a Drain Snake Turn 90 Degrees?

Drain augers are designed to bend around the curves and corners in pipes. A drain auger can’t bend a hard 90 degree angle and it becomes super difficult to go any further. This is why piping standards don’t include 90 degree bends in pipes except at the P trap and other trap areas. This is why it can be hard to get your auger past the P Trap. There are *some* augers that are designed to handle 90 degree angles, but they are expensive professional models.

How to Snake a T Fitting

How do you unclog a 90-degree pipe? Bad news here is that you can’t due to the 90 degree angles of a T fitting. Typically, you can unscrew the T fitting, remove it, clean it, and then auger the drains on both sides to fully remove any debris. If the T fitting is glued to the pipes, that’s when you have to cut it. You will have to cut the pipe above and below the T fitting and then auger both sides of the pipe.

What is the Drain Auger Doesn’t get the Clog Out?

This means that the clog is too deep for your auger or just super complicated to remove. You will need to call a plumber to remove the clog.

Manual Versus Electric Drain Augers and Clogs

Manual drain augers are great because they are easy to operate and budget friendly. However, there are some drawbacks. They may not have enough power to get through the bends and corners in your pipes to clear out clogs. Again, they work most of the time, but you may run into a problem with a deeper, more complicated clog and need some more power.

Cost of Hiring a Plumber Versus Buying a Drain Auger

Hiring a plumber to unclog your drains costs anywhere from $100- 250, depending on the area and how complicated the clog is. A drain auger can be as cheap as $30. You can also use your drain auger as many times as you like, so I consider it an investment.


How to get a drain snake around a corner is easier than you think when you have tough, deep clogs to tackle. Don’t be discouraged and throw a bit of elbow grease into it to really crush your clogs with the best drain auger.


What if My Auger Won’t Turn?

Simple to solve. There is a screw which holds the cable in the drum or handle that needs to be tightened.

How do you get a drain snake out of a drain

You wind the handle backwards, which will pull the cable out of the drain in a counterclockwise motion, bringing the clog with it. If it gets stuck on the way out, you simple wind the auger back down the drain a little ways and then start pulling it back out while winding it back up into the drum. Patience is key here, it will eventually come out.