How to Install a New Cable Drain Machine


Cabled drain cleaners are the ideal tool to clean out slow or clogged drains. The cable is directed down the drain line to penetrate, loosen and remove the material causing the clog. Operated correctly, these cable drain tools will free up the drain in no time at all. As these machines are used, and abused by those who may not be an expert at using them, they too need repair. Installing a new cable in one of these machines is somewhat of a challenge, but you can do it.

Things You'll Need

  • Gloves
  • Eye protection
  • Phillips head screwdriver
  • New cable
  • Take the old cable out of the drum of the drain machine. Grasp the machine just in front of the cable drum with one hand and pull the old cable through the end of the machine until the entire contents of the drum are pulled through. The only part of the cable that will be in the drum is the section that holds it in.

  • Use a Phillips head screwdriver and remove the four screws on the back of the machine's drum. Open the drum and pull out the end of the old cable and discard it.

  • Replace the old cable with a ¼ inch, 25-foot cable. Use caution when opening and unpacking the new cable. Some of them are packaged under tension and will uncoil quickly when the bindings are removed.

  • Unroll the new cable carefully, completely uncoiling it. Take up the drain machine and route the first 12 inches of the new cable into the guide tube of the drum.

  • Work the first two to three inches into the holder on the inside rim of the drum to get it stable so it will not move excessively as you try to wind the new cable back into the drum. Bend the cable sharply, almost 90 degrees, to get it caught into the holder.

  • Replace the machine drum's back cover very carefully, being careful not to dislodge the end of the cable you have just situated in the holder. Insert and tighten all four screws without any sudden jerking or jarring motions, so the cable is now resting between the two halves of the drum.

  • Thread the cable into the drum slowly and carefully, making sure not to create any binding or uneven distribution of the cable within the drum.

Tips & Warnings

  • Clean the cable after every use, especially if it has been exposed to harsh chemicals such as acid and cleaners containing acid.
  • When using this cable drum machine, do not force it; allow the auger to do the work, and you will avoid binding the cable.

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  • Photo Credit plumber, plumbing image by Greg Pickens from screwdriver image by Witold Krasowski from framed plumbed and wired image by Scott Patterson from
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