Knowing how to snake a kitchen drain can help you quickly and easily clear any clogs and get your sink back to functioning properly.
We provide you with all the information you need to know about snaking a kitchen drain, including the tools you’ll need, how to prepare your sink for snaking, and step-by-step instructions on how to use a drain snake to clear your kitchen drain.
By the end of this post, you’ll have the knowledge and confidence to tackle this common household issue on your own.
How to Snake a Kitchen Drain with an Auger
Snaking a kitchen drain with an auger can be a bit tricky, but it’s a necessary skill if you want to keep your plumbing system functioning properly.
- Insert the drain snake/auger
- Turn the handle to dislodge the clog
- Remove the drain snake
- Test the drain
Feed the drain snake cable slowly down the drain by hand. Inch by Inch, push the cable down the pipes, making sure to apply steady pressure
Once the drain auger cable stops, you’ve either hit your clog or the P trap/bend in the pipes.
Using the handle on your auger, wind it slowly clockwise while applying downwards pressure to work the cable down the pipes. If you’ve hit your clog, the end of the drain snake will wind around it and you can wind your auger back out of your drain, counterclockwise. Then you can see if the auger got the clog out by seeing if your auger has the clog on the end of the bulb cable and if your drain runs clear.
If you didn’t get the clog the first time, try the steps above again and use pressure to work the drain cord passed the bend in the pipes.
Preparation for Snaking Your Kitchen Drain
- Gather necessary tools and equipment
- Protect yourself and your work area
- Turn off the water supply
What tools do I need to auger/snake my kitchen drain?
You will need a drain auger, gloves to protect your hands, and a bucket to catch any water that may come out of the drain.
How do I prepare my kitchen sink for snaking: Protect Yourself and Your Work Area
First, remove any standing water from the sink. Then, remove the sink stopper or strainer to access the drain. It is also a good idea to cover the area around the sink with towels or a plastic sheet to protect against any splashing.
Turn off Water Supply
This is usually found underneath the sink.
There are two handles: one for the hot water and one for the cold water. You will need to turn them both to the right until the valve is closed and you can’t turn the handles any further.
There will still be water in the pipes though, so place a bucket underneath the P trap and pipes to catch the water as you remove the pipes.
Signs You Need to Auger Your Kitchen Drain
Some common signs that your kitchen drain needs snaking include the following:
- Slow draining water
- Foul odors coming from the drain
- Gurgling sounds coming from the drain
Different Types of Drain Augers
We talk about the different types of drain augers in our best drain auger post. Overall, each type of drain snake has its own unique benefits and drawbacks, so it’s important to choose the right one for your specific needs.
Whether you’re a professional plumber or a DIYer, there’s a drain snake out there that will help you get the job done. For full details about how to use each type of drain auger, check out our post.
- Manual drain snakes
- Electric drain snakes
- Drum augers
Manual Drain Auger
Let’s start with manual drain augers. These are also known as hand-crank drain augers, and they’re the most basic type of drain auger. They consist of a long, flexible cable with a handle on one end and a hook or barb on the other. You insert the cable into the drain and use the handle to turn it, which causes the hook to catch on any blockages and pull them out. Manual drain snakes are simple and inexpensive, but they require a lot of physical effort to use.
Electric Drain Auger
Moving on to electric drain augers, these are a more advanced type of drain snake that use electricity to power the cable. They’re typically powered by a motor that turns the cable and can be used to clear out more stubborn blockages.
Electric drain augers are ideal for larger jobs or for professionals who need to clear out drains regularly. They come in both handheld and drum auger varieties. Read our detailed post about how to use an electric drain auger HERE.
Lastly, we have drum augers. These are the most heavy-duty type of drain snake and are typically used by professional plumbers. They consist of a large drum that holds the cable and a motor that powers the cable. Drum augers can clear out extremely tough blockages, such as tree roots or large amounts of sediment. They’re expensive and difficult to use, but they’re essential for larger plumbing jobs.
Troubleshooting Common Problems When Snaking Your Kitchen Drain
- The drain auger gets stuck
- The clog is not clearing
- The drain auger is not long enough
Drain Auger gets Stuck
When it comes to clearing clogged drains, a trusty tool to turn to is the drain auger. However, due to the numerous bends in modern piping systems, this tool can occasionally become stuck. This is a common occurrence that plumbers and DIY enthusiasts alike are all too familiar with.
(For more information, read our detailed post on How to Get a Drain Auger Unstuck)
The reason an auger can become lodged in the drain is due to the twists and turns of the pipe system. The corkscrew-shaped auger is designed to penetrate and break up blockages, but its elongated shape can also make it susceptible to getting stuck in the twists and turns of the pipes.
When this happens, it’s important not to panic. Instead, try gently maneuvering the auger back and forth to loosen it from the obstruction. It may also be necessary to rotate the auger in the opposite direction from which it was originally inserted.
If the auger remains stuck, it’s time to call in a professional plumber. They have the expertise and specialized equipment needed to safely remove the stuck auger and clear the blockage. In the hands of an experienced plumber, an auger can be a valuable tool for clearing drains effectively and efficiently.
The Clog is Not Clearing
How to Tell if a Kitchen Drain Auger is Too Short
Kitchen drain augers should be at least 3 feet long to be effective at removing even deep down clogs. Using an auger that is too short means you won’t be able to reach the P trap or bend in the pipes, which is where most clogs start.
If you suspect that your kitchen drain auger may be too short, it’s best to purchase a longer snake or consult a professional plumber who can advise you on the appropriate length for your plumbing system. Using a snake that is too short can cause further damage to your pipes and may not effectively clear the clog
Maintenance Tips to Keep Your Kitchen Drain Clear
Drain Clog Prevention
Here are some tips to prevent future drain clogs:
- Watch that the kids put anything down the drains
- Clean out your pipes twice per year with a drain auger
- Grease should be poured into a container and thrown out, not down your toilet
- Use a drain catcher in your sink drains to catch any debris that gets into the sink
When to Call a Professional
What should I do if Snaking doesn’t clear my Kitchen Drain?
If snaking doesn’t clear your kitchen drain, you may need to use a more powerful tool, such as a hydro jet or call a professional plumber to take a look. Here are some of my tips on when you should call a Pro in to handle the situation
- Multiple clogs throughout the house
- Persistent clogs
- Old or damaged pipes
How often should I Snake my kitchen drain?
Preventing Kitchen drain clogs with a snake starts with prevention. We recommend snaking your kitchen drain twice per year, to prevent clogs from forming.
Kitchen Drain Auger Safety Tips
Here are our safety tips to follow when using a drain auger on your Kitchen or any sink.
- Use gloves and safety goggles
- Inspect your auger and cable before using
- Don’t touch the cable while it’s spinning
- Wear tighter fitting clothing so it doesn’t get caught up in the spinning cable
- Wash you hands after using your auger
- Don’t force it down the pipes with a ton of force, you risk damaging your pipes or cable
- Be careful if using around standing water, it is an electrical appliance
How to Use a Kitchen Drain Snake without Scratching Sink
Instead of using a snake, go after the clog by removing the pipes under the sink. Just remember to turn off the water to the sink and have a bucket under the pipes to catch the water that is going to come out when you remove the fittings.
Using a kitchen drain snake to clear a clog can be an effective way to fix a blocked drain. However, it’s important to use the snake properly to avoid scratching or damaging the sink. Here are some tips for using a kitchen drain snake without scratching the sink:
Use a plastic drain snake: Instead of using a metal drain snake, which can easily scratch or damage the sink, use a plastic drain snake that is specifically designed for kitchen drains.
Protect the sink: To further protect the sink from scratches, place a rubber mat or towel over the sink before inserting the snake.
Insert the snake carefully: When inserting the snake into the drain, be gentle and avoid any sudden or jerky movements that could cause the snake to scratch the sink.
Guide the snake with your hand: Use your hand to guide the snake as it moves through the drain, being careful to avoid letting the snake rub against the sides of the sink.
Clean the sink afterward: Once you have successfully cleared the clog, clean the sink thoroughly with a mild cleaning agent and a soft cloth to remove any residue or debris that may have accumulated during the snaking process.
How to Snake a Double Kitchen Sink Drain with an Auger
Read our other post that talks about how to do this in a ton of detail HERE.
How to Clean a Kitchen Drain Auger
Cleaning a kitchen drain auger is important to maintain its effectiveness and to prevent the spread of bacteria and other contaminants. Here are some steps to clean a kitchen drain auger:
Wear gloves to protect your hands from any debris or bacteria on the auger. Use a bucket of warm, soapy water to soak the auger. You can use dish soap or another mild cleaning agent.
Use a small brush, such as an old toothbrush, to scrub the entire length of the auger. Pay special attention to any hooks or barbs on the end of the auger, as these can easily trap debris.
Rinse the auger thoroughly with clean water to remove any soap residue. If the auger has any stubborn or hard-to-remove debris, you can soak it in a solution of equal parts water and vinegar for about an hour before scrubbing it again.
Once the auger is clean, hang it up or lay it out to dry completely before storing it.
How to Properly Dispose of Kitchen Drain Auger Waste
You can dispose of the waste from your sinks into your household trash.
Chemical Kitchen Drain Cleaner
Like a rocket ship blasting through your pipes, Talon Drain Opener is what the Pros use. Because it’s Pro Grade it does cost more than your standard liquid drain opener. BUT, you’re getting some kick butt results for the price. It’s worth it.
We had a slow running sink drain, clogged up with hair and decided to test it out. It’s not liquid like other chemical drain openers. Talon is grainy, flakey and powdery and you put it into your drain and wash it down with water.
Our test showed that our drain ran like new after using Talon Drain Opener. It’s also safe for septic systems and won’t wreck your chrome, plastic or brass sink fittings.
Exactly what you’d expect from a professional grade product like this.
You can grab Talon Drain Opener in either 1 pound or 2 lb containers. The bottle pictured here is the 2 pound container, which we always have on hand. And the 2lb container is a great deal, costing only about 10$ more than the 1 pound container.
Kitchen Drain Snake with Camera Attachment
Refer back to our other post, the Best Drain Cameras, where we discuss drain cameras in detail for you.
How Much does it cost to Snake a Kitchen Sink Drain
The cost to snake a kitchen sink drain can vary depending on several factors, such as the location and severity of the clog, the type of plumbing system you have, and your geographic location.
If you choose to hire a professional plumber to snake your kitchen sink drain, you can expect to pay anywhere from $100 to $300 or more, depending on the factors mentioned above. Some plumbers may also charge additional fees for emergency services or after-hours work.
Where to buy a Kitchen Drain Auger
However, if you feel comfortable doing it yourself, you can purchase a drain snake tool for as little as $20 to $30 online. This can be a cost-effective option if you plan on using the tool multiple times in the future. Online has the most options, refer back to our best drain auger post
How to tell if a Kitchen Drain Snake is too short
Kitchen drain snakes should be at least 3 feet long to be effective at removing even deep down clogs. Using a snake that is too short means you won’t be able to reach the P trap or bend in the pipes, which is where most clogs start.
If you suspect that your kitchen drain snake may be too short, it’s best to purchase a longer snake or consult a professional plumber who can advise you on the appropriate length for your plumbing system. Using a snake that is too short can cause further damage to your pipes and may not effectively clear the clog.
What to do if Kitchen Drain Snake Doesn’t Work
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.
Can you use a snake in a kitchen drain?
Yes, using a snake in a kitchen drain is a common and effective way to clear clogs. A drain snake, also known as an auger, is a long, flexible wire with a hook on the end that can be inserted into the drain to remove any blockages.
When using a drain snake, it’s important to follow the proper safety precautions, such as wearing gloves and eye protection, and to carefully read and follow the instructions for your specific tool. With the right technique, using a snake in a kitchen drain can be a quick and easy solution to a clogged sink.
How to Snake a Kitchen Drain with a Curved Pipe
We discuss this in detail in our post, How to Get a Drain Snake Around a Corner.
In plumbing terminology, a corner in a pipe is known as an elbow. Elbows can take on various forms, such as a harsh 90-degree bend, as seen in P-traps, or a smaller bend. Regardless of their shape, debris can accumulate in these areas, leading to clogs.
Navigating an elbow with a drain snake can be a challenge, even for experienced DIYers. However, getting a drain auger around a corner merely requires some technique and a bit of elbow grease.
When using a drain snake, ensure that you are rotating it continuously as you feed it into the pipe. This rotational motion helps the auger to navigate around corners in your pipes. Additionally, if you encounter resistance at an elbow, apply steady downward pressure as you continue to wind the cord around. With a few cranks of your cable, you should feel your snake push through the elbow.
Is it OK to Snake a Sink Drain?
Yes, it is generally safe to snake a sink drain. In fact, using a drain snake is often one of the most effective methods for clearing sink clogs. However, it’s important to note that some sink materials, such as porcelain or ceramic, may be more fragile and prone to damage from the pressure of the snake.
Additionally, if you are not familiar with how to use a drain snake properly, it’s possible to cause damage to your plumbing system. Therefore, it’s important to take the necessary safety precautions and to carefully read and follow the instructions for your specific tool. If you have any doubts or concerns, it may be best to consult a professional plumber.
Can a Kitchen Drain Snake Damage Pipes
While a drain snake is generally considered a safe tool for clearing clogs, it is not without its risks. If not used properly, a drain auger can cause damage to pipes, resulting in small cracks, punctures, or even breakages.
One of the primary causes of damage to pipes is improper operation of the auger. For example, if the snake is pushed too far into the pipe, it can cause a complete blockage, making it difficult to remove. It’s important to use the appropriate size and type of drain auger for the job, and to exercise caution when inserting it into the pipe.
Older plumbing systems can be particularly susceptible to damage from a drain snake due to their galvanized construction. Such plumbing may already be corroded, which can make it break more easily.
To avoid damaging pipes, it’s important to inspect them for signs of corrosion or damage before using a drain auger. If pipes show any signs of wear and tear, it’s best to consult with a professional plumber to assess the situation and determine the best course of action.
How to Auger a Kitchen Drain from the Roof
We talk about this in detail in our post about augering out your roof vent so your drains run better.
What is the Best Way to Unblock a Kitchen Drain?
The best way to unblock a kitchen drain depends on the severity and location of the blockage. However, some effective method is using a drain auger. You can also try using a plunger, pouring boiling water down the drain, using a mixture of baking soda and vinegar, if you don’t have a drain auger.
Using a plunger can be effective for mild to moderate clogs, while pouring boiling water down the drain can help dissolve and flush away grease and soap buildup.
The baking soda and vinegar mixture can also dissolve grease and other buildup, and is a natural and non-toxic alternative to harsh chemical drain cleaners. However, these natural methods will only solve he problem for the time being: clogs will continue to be a problem in the near future until you fully auger and clean out your drains and pipes.
If these methods don’t work, using a drain snake is often the most effective solution for more stubborn clogs. However, it’s important to use the snake carefully and to follow the instructions for your specific tool to avoid damaging your plumbing system.
If you’re not comfortable using a snake, or if you’re unable to clear the clog on your own, it’s best to consult a professional plumber.
What to do if Kitchen Drain Auger Doesn’t Work
If you’ve tried your best, and you can’t unclog your drain, you may need to call in a Plumber.
Congratulations! You have successfully learned how to snake a kitchen drain. By following the steps outlined in this post, you can easily tackle this common household problem on your own without the need for a professional plumber.
By keeping your kitchen drain clear and taking preventative measures, such as avoiding putting grease and large food scraps down the drain, you can help minimize the chances of experiencing future clogs. And if you ever do encounter a clog, now you know how to snake a kitchen drain to quickly and effectively clear it.
- How to Snake a Kitchen Drain with an Auger
- Preparation for Snaking Your Kitchen Drain
- Signs You Need to Auger Your Kitchen Drain
- Different Types of Drain Augers
- Troubleshooting Common Problems When Snaking Your Kitchen Drain
- Maintenance Tips to Keep Your Kitchen Drain Clear
- When to Call a Professional
- How often should I Snake my kitchen drain?
- Kitchen Drain Auger Safety Tips
- How to Use a Kitchen Drain Snake without Scratching Sink
- How to Snake a Double Kitchen Sink Drain with an Auger
- How to Clean a Kitchen Drain Auger
- How to Properly Dispose of Kitchen Drain Auger Waste
- Chemical Kitchen Drain Cleaner
- Kitchen Drain Snake with Camera Attachment
- How Much does it cost to Snake a Kitchen Sink Drain
- Where to buy a Kitchen Drain Auger
- How to tell if a Kitchen Drain Snake is too short
- What to do if Kitchen Drain Snake Doesn't Work
- Can you use a snake in a kitchen drain?
- How to Snake a Kitchen Drain with a Curved Pipe
- Is it OK to Snake a Sink Drain?
- Can a Kitchen Drain Snake Damage Pipes
- How to Auger a Kitchen Drain from the Roof
- What is the Best Way to Unblock a Kitchen Drain?
- What to do if Kitchen Drain Auger Doesn't Work
If you are unsure about how to snake your kitchen drain or have a persistent clog that won’t clear, it may be best to call a professional plumber to take care of the problem.