Plumber's snake


Plumber's snake
Cleaning out a side sewer line with a heavy-duty motorized snake

A plumber's snake, sometimes known as a "toilet jack" or "electric eel", is a flexible auger used to remove clogs in plumbing that cannot be loosened with a plunger.

Most devices consist of a coiled metal wire with space between the coils at the end. The other end is attached to a device with a crank that rotates the wire as it moves down into the pipe. Drains are cleared by one of several mechanisms:

  • The auger end of the wire digs itself into the clog much like a corkscrew, allowing retrieval of the object causing the clog when the snake is pulled out. (Commonly hair, combs, small toys, cloth.)
  • The end of the snake breaks up the object, allowing it to pass through the drain. (Commonly tree roots, foam insulation, plastic objects.)
  • The snake flails around the inside surface of the pipe, scraping off accumulated matter (ranging from mineral deposits to bacon fat) which was reducing the effective interior diameter of the drain pipe.

Auger varieties

  • Hand augers, also known as hand spinners, are useful for clearing sink and bathtub drains. Note that they should never be used in toilets, as they may damage the bowl or become knotted in the large diameter drain pipe beneath. A rule of thumb is that a 1/4" cable should never be used in a drain larger than 2".
  • Closet augers (named after water closets) feed a relatively short auger through a piece of metal tubing shaped like a "J". This allows them to easily be fed into water closets (flush toilets); a plastic boot on the end of the auger protects the finish of the visible porcelain. Since most toilet clogs occur in the trap built into the bowl, the short cable is sufficient to break up or retrieve the vast majority of clogs.
  • Heavy-duty drum augers are motorized and have removable blades that may be attached to the end. These devices are able to cut through or break up tree roots and other stubborn objects. Used unskillfully, they will also readily break plastic or copper plumbing. Many are available with television cameras attached (i.e. Ridgid's SeeSnake line), allowing inspection of the pipe's condition.

If the auger cannot break up or dig itself into the clog, the clogged section of the pipe (which can usually be located by measuring the length of the auger that has gone into the pipe) may have to be replaced by a plumber.

See also

External links


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Look at other dictionaries:

  • plumber's snake — snake (def. 3a). [1935 40] * * * …   Universalium

  • plumber's snake — noun a long flexible steel coil for dislodging stoppages in curved pipes • Syn: ↑auger • Hypernyms: ↑snake, ↑hand tool * * * noun, pl ⋯ snakes [count] : ↑snake 3, 1 …   Useful english dictionary

  • plumber's snake — noun Date: 1938 a long flexible rod or cable usually of steel that is used to free clogged pipes …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • plumber'ssnake — plumber s snake n. See snake. * * * …   Universalium

  • snake — snakelike, adj. /snayk/, n., v., snaked, snaking. n. 1. any of numerous limbless, scaly, elongate reptiles of the suborder Serpentes, comprising venomous and nonvenomous species inhabiting tropical and temperate areas. 2. a treacherous person; an …   Universalium

  • Snake (disambiguation) — A snake is a common reptile of the order Squamata. See also serpent. NOTOC It may also refer to:Geography* Snake Creek, a tributary of the North Branch Susquehanna River in Pennsylvania in the United States * Also see Snake River for several… …   Wikipedia

  • snake — I. noun Etymology: Middle English, from Old English snaca; akin to Old Norse snakr snake, Old High German snahhan to crawl Date: before 12th century 1. any of numerous limbless scaled reptiles (suborder Serpentes syn. Ophidia) with a long… …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • snake — sneɪk n. scaly legless reptile with a long narrow body; person who cannot be trusted, traitorous person; plumber s snake, long flexible wire used for clearing drains v. twist or wind like a snake; move like a snake, move in a sinuous manner,… …   English contemporary dictionary

  • snake — noun 1》 a predatory reptile with a long slender limbless supple body, many kinds of which have a venomous bite. [Suborder Ophidia: many species.] 2》 (also snake in the grass) a treacherous or deceitful person. 3》 (in full plumber s snake) a long… …   English new terms dictionary

  • snake — [snāk] n. [ME < OE snaca, akin to ON snakr, MLowG snake: for IE base see SNAIL] 1. any of a limbless suborder (Serpentes, order Squamata) of reptiles with an elongated, scaly body, lidless eyes, and a tapering tail: some species have a… …   English World dictionary


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