I Am Trying to Snake My Bathtub Drain, but the Snake Won't Go


A drain snake is essentially a long flexible metal coil with a cutting head on the end. A snake is meant for one thing; clearing away blockages from a variety of drains. It is designed to either cut through the blockage, or to thread a spring-like head into the blockage and then pull it back out the drain. Of course, these methods assume you can even get the snake far enough into the drain. There are several reasons a snake might be hanging up in your drain.

Push Harder

  • Sometimes the snake is just being obstinate, and needs a good push to get it started moving down the drain. If gentle pressure is not getting the cutting head where it needs to be, try applying some less-than-gentle pressure.

Turn As You Push

  • Snakes are flexible and usually stored coiled up like a rope. As such, they often have a direction they "prefer" when they go down a pipe, due to how they've been coiled up. If the snake is not going down your drain, it may be because it wants to go left when the drain goes right. Try rotating the snake as you push it down the drain to get it around corners or bends.

You've Hit the Block

  • It might be that you've just come across the blockage a bit earlier than you imagined. If you're trying to push the snake down the drain and can't make any progress, try pushing it into the blockage and either cutting through it or threading into it to pull it back.

Use a Bigger Snake

  • Drain snakes don't just come in one size. If you are trying to snake your drain with a small-diameter snake and it's not working, you may need to invest in something with a bit more heft to it. Most hardware stores will rent motorized snakes, which the professional plumbers use to cut through most drain blockages. Snakes tend to come in sizes ranging from 1/8 inch to 1/2 inch.

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