What to do when a drain snake doesn’t work| A Complete Guide

If you’ve tried the drain snake and it’s still not alleviating your plumbing woes, don’t panic just yet. You haven’t reached the end of your DIY toolkit quite yet. A high-pressure water jet is a handy tool to have up your sleeve when a drain snake doesn’t work. This powerhouse can blast through obstructions with pressurized water and clean your pipes from residual grime simultaneously.

When brute force fails, science offers solutions. Trying an enzyme-based pipe cleaner might be the eco-friendly answer to unclog those persistent blockages. Unlike traditional harsh chemicals, these cleaners use natural enzymes or bacteria that eat away at the clog safely without harming your pipes or septic system in the process. So if a drain snake doesn’t work, keep calm! With these innovative solutions at hand, triumph against stubborn clogs is within reach.

Understanding the Basics: What is a Drain Snake?

A drain snake, also referred to as a plumbing snake, toilet jack, or auger, is a multifunctional tool specifically designed to remove blockages from drains. Characterized by its long and flexible cable with a corkscrew-like tip, it excels in grabbing and dislodging clogs that may prove challenging for a plunger. However, there are instances when your drain snake may not function as desired. Before discussing why your drain snake might not be working optimally, it’s critical to familiarize ourselves with the different types of drain snakes available in the market.

Types of Drain Snakes

A drain snake, also known as a plumbing snake or drain auger, is a flexible auger used to dislodge clogs in plumbing. There are several types of drain snakes designed for different uses, including hand spinners, closet augers, drum machines, and sectional machines. Each type has its unique design and functionality for handling specific blockages. However, there may be instances when a drain snake doesn’t work effectively due to the severity of the clog or improper usage. In such cases, it might be necessary to consider other methods like hydrojetting or even professional assistance.

  1. Toilet Auger

A toilet auger is the ideal tool for dealing with blockages in toilets. It features a long rod and a short cable designed to prevent scratches on delicate porcelain surfaces. This tool is particularly useful in instances where traditional methods, such as using a drain snake, prove ineffective.

  1. Small Drum Auger

The Small Drum Auger is an ideal tool for dealing with kitchen or bathroom sink clogs. It is equipped with a compact design, which allows for easy maneuvering in tight spaces. This feature makes it particularly efficient where other tools like a drain snake might fail to work. Its user-friendly design ensures you can unclog your drain without any professional help, making it a reliable solution for common household plumbing issues.

  1. Extra Long Drain Auger

The Extra Long Drain Auger is an essential tool for dealing with deep-seated clogs that occur along the length of your drain pipe. It is specifically designed to provide extended reach, effortlessly reaching blockages that are far down the drain pipe. When traditional methods such as a drain snake fail to work, this auger comes in very handy. Its extra-long design ensures that no clog is too deep or too stubborn for it to handle successfully.


What to do when a drain snake doesn't work
What to do when a drain snake doesn’t work

Troubleshooting: Why Isn’t My Drain Snake Working?

When a drain snake doesn’t work, it’s essential not to panic but to seek out alternative solutions. There could be some reasons why your drain snake isn’t functioning properly. The inefficiency of your drain snake can arise from various issues. From being broken or damaged to not being used correctly, several factors could contribute to your drain snake not working as it should. Understanding these potential problems is the first step in resolving them and ensuring your tool works effectively.

  1. It’s the Incorrect Drain Snake

The issue could be that you’re using an incorrect drain snake. It’s crucial to ensure that you are utilizing the appropriate type of auger specifically suited for the appliance you are working on. If not, the drain snake may fail to function effectively. This could be a potential reason why your drain snake doesn’t work as intended.

  1. The Previous Clog is Still Attached

Before using the drain snake again, ensure to check for remnants of an old clog that might still be attached to the corkscrew end. The presence of a previous clog could hinder the effectiveness of the tool and potentially exacerbate the issue further. An overlooked remnant can result in a situation where a drain snake doesn’t work as intended.

  1. The Clog is Too Extreme

The extremity of a clog can sometimes be too much for a hand-drain snake to handle. Some clogs are extremely dense, making it difficult for this tool to perform effectively. In such severe cases, it would be advisable to consider utilizing a power auger or seeking the services of a professional plumber. This is especially true when attempts at using a drain snake have proven unsuccessful in clearing the clog.

  1. The Thumbscrew Has Unfastened

The thumbscrew has been unfastened, meaning it is crucial to tighten the thumbscrew which secures the cable inside the drum or handle. This step is necessary to guarantee proper rotation. If this action is not taken, a drain snake may not function effectively in clearing blockages due to insufficient rotation of the cable within its mechanism.


What to do when a drain snake doesn't work
What to do when a drain snake doesn’t work

Solutions: What Should I Do If My Drain Snake Isn’t Working?

If you’re finding that your drain snake isn’t working, there are a few solutions you might want to consider. Firstly, ensure that you’re using the right type of drain snake for your specific issue; not all snakes work on all types of blockages or pipes. Secondly, try to adjust the technique: sometimes different angles or amounts of pressure can make a big difference. If these efforts fail, it could be time to call in a professional. A qualified plumber will have more specialized tools and expertise to properly diagnose and fix the problem without causing additional damage.

  1. Clean Your Drain Snake

It is crucial to clean your drain snake regularly, particularly attending to the corkscrew end. This is because it often accumulates debris from previous uses, which can hinder its efficiency if not removed. A drain snake that isn’t cleaned routinely may fail to function as effectively as expected, leading to persistent plumbing issues.

  1. Make Use of a Different Auger

If you find that a particular type of auger isn’t effective for your plumbing issue, it could be beneficial to switch to a different one. The effectiveness of an auger can often depend on the specific problem at hand. For instance, if a drain snake doesn’t work in unclogging your drain, trying out a different type of auger might yield better results. Hence, having a variety of these tools at your disposal can provide more effective solutions to various plumbing problems.

  1. Tighten the Thumbscrew

Firstly, it’s important to ensure that the thumbscrew on your drain snake is securely tightened. A loose thumbscrew might impede the cable’s ability to rotate effectively, which can hinder your efforts in clearing the blockage. It’s worth noting that an improperly adjusted thumbscrew might be the reason why a drain snake doesn’t work as expected.

When to Call a Professional

If the drain snake doesn’t work, it’s time to call a professional. A problem that seems simple might be more complex and could potentially escalate if not handled correctly. Attempting to fix a stubborn clog on your own can result in further damage to your pipes. Professionals have the right tools and expertise to handle such situations safely and effectively. Don’t risk causing more harm than good; call an expert when the drain snake fails to resolve the issue.

What to do when a drain snake doesn't work
What to do when a drain snake doesn’t work


When a drain snake doesn’t work, it’s essential not to panic but to seek out alternative solutions. These alternatives can include using a hydro jet, calling a professional plumber, or even trying various home remedies. Remember that patience and persistence are key in these situations. Over time, you will likely find a method that works well for your unique situation. So, don’t give up if the drain snake fails; instead, take action and explore other efficient ways available to unclog your drain.

FAQs About A Drain Snake Doesn’t Work

How often should I clean my drain snake?

It’s advisable to clean your drain snake after each use to prevent debris buildup.

Can I use the same drain snake for different appliances?

No, it’s essential to use the specific type of auger designed for the appliance you are working on.

What signs indicate that I should call a professional plumber?

Persistent clogs, unusual noises, or slow drainage are signs that warrant professional intervention.

How can I prevent future drain clogs?

Regular maintenance, avoiding the improper disposal of grease and debris, can significantly reduce the risk of future clogs.

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