How to Use an Electric Drain Auger

How to use an electric drain auger is a skill all people need.  

Every day, folks find themselves dealing with clogged drains that are difficult to fix without the help of extra tools. 

Instead of hiring a professional plumber, you can take care of the clog on your own, which saves you time and money. By following these simple steps, you can use an electric drain auger to your advantage. 

how to use an electric drain auger
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How to Use an Electric Drain Auger 

An electric drain auger, also known as a plumbing snake, is a long, flexible tool that is used to clear blockages in drains and pipes by using a cable with a bulb head on the end to clean out drains and clogs. Using an electric drain auger to unclog drains is not hard and doesn’t take a ton of skill.  Good news is anyone can do it!  Save yourself a few bucks and get that drain unclogged yourself.

  1. Preparing your work area 
  2. Inserting your auger
  3. Feeding the auger
  4. Removing your drain auger
  5. Cleaning the Auger

Step 1: Preparation 

The very first steps are to make sure you prepare yourself and the drain. Charge your augers battery to make sure it has power to unclog your drain.

In addition, you’ll want to make sure that you’re wearing safety gear like gloves, goggles and old clothes that cover your skin.  You don’t want whatever is causing the clog or your drain cleaning to get on your skin. 

Make sure you have a large black garbage bag or can handy; something to put your auger in after your finished unclogging your drain.  It could have goo and drain cleaning chemicals on it that you don’t want getting on your floors, counters etc.  This way you have a handy way to carry the auger outside and hose it off afterwards.

Step 2: Inserting the Auger 

Next, you’re going to want to insert your drain auger into your drain. Be careful not to scratch your sink as you insert your auger.  

Step 3: Feeding the Auger 

With the cable in your drain, turn on the motor for your electric drain auger.   Using the trigger on your electric drain auger, start to auto feed the cable down your drain. Once you start to feel your auger slow down, then you’ve reached the area where the clog is located. 

At this point, you will want to continue working the cable of your electric drain auger down your drain.  This will spin and push the end of your auger through the trapped debris, releasing and grabbing the gunk in your drain.

Most electric drain auger have 25 foot long metal cords so they are long enough to reach the most common and toughest clogs you can throw at them.   

Step 4: Removing the Drain Auger 

Once you’ve gotten rid of any resistance, you can then auto retract the auger cable. The will reverse the cable back out of the hole. Make sure to wipe off the cable as it’s retracting back into the auger.

It’s time to run water into the drain to see if the issue has been resolved. It’s highly likely water will begin to drain perfectly again, which means that you have removed the clog. 

In the event that the clog isn’t removed, try augering your drain again, making sure to use the full length of the cable.  Your drain could be clogged further down the drain than expected.

If you’ve tried a few times and can’t seem to get the clog out, at this point, you may want to consider reaching out to a professional.  The model below is the Ryobi one+ which is super easy to use!

Step 5: Cleaning the Auger

Clean your auger with hot water and make sure to let it dry completely. Then, lubricate the cable with General Wire Snake oil.

Before storing your auger, apply General Wire Snake Oil to your cable after you’ve cleaned it. This stops rust and keeps your cable from getting stiff and kinking while it’s in storage.

How does a Power Drain Auger Work


Using a Power drain auger takes it up a notch.  They run on electricity, batteries, or you can attach a cordless drill to your auger and spin it that way.  You can also use them manually.

When tested, this Ryobi Power Spin Drain Cleaner exceeded our expectations for how easy and light it is to use.  We really liked how durable and well-built the auger felt. It’s our preferred electric model.

Using a power auger is the same as using a manual drain auger except the power ones feed the cable into the drain for you with Autofeed and then they also auto retract the cable out of the drain. It also spins it for you much faster than a manual auger. This makes it super easy to auger many drains efficiently.

Check out the instructions above for how to do this.

Can a Drain Snake Break a Pipe

While a drain snake is generally considered safe to use, there is a risk of damaging pipes if it is not used properly. A drain auger can damage pipes if not used properly.

If a drain auger isn’t operated correctly, it can scratch or puncture the inside of the pipe, causing small cracks or holes. It can also get stuck in the pipe, causing it to break or become dislodged. If the snake is pushed too far into the pipe, it can cause a complete blockage, making it difficult to remove.

Older plumbing is especially susceptible to breakages due to its galvanized construction.

It’s important to use the appropriate size and type of electric drain auger for the job, and to use caution when pushing it into the pipe. Pipes should be have no signs of corrosion or damage, and this can happen in home with older plumbing.

Electric Drain Auger Costs

An electric drain auger costs more than a manual drain auger. The price starts at about $100 and goes up from there. Seems expensive, but when you compare it to the minimum cost of a plumbers call out fee of around $200 (more on weekends and after hours) you are saving money. You can also use your auger anytime you have a clog and to routinely clear debris out of your pipes. You will save a ton of cash in the long run if you purchase your own drain auger.

What to look for in an Electric Drain Auger Quick List

  • Interchangeable cables so you can increase the length if required
  • Enough RPMs to clean out pipes and clogs properly
  • Cable is at least 25 feet long, also comes in 50 feet (longer than that you need a Pro)
  • Cable diameter is right for your drains (drains require a thinner cable than toilets)

Safety Tips for How to Use and Electric Drain Auger

  • 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 an electric drain auger can be done by anyone if you follow the steps above.  It only takes a few minutes and save you a ton of cash to unclog a drain yourself.

Why Should you Use an Electric Drain Auger

They have more RPM’s than a manual auger, easier on your body, they auto retract and remove your clog, good for more difficult clogs.