What is a Drain Snake? | What is a Plumbing Snake?

Article Date: 11/08/2018 | Posted By Nick


What is a Drain Snake? | What is a Plumbing Snake?

One of the most common questions we get both online and in person, is “what is the difference between a plumbing snake and a drain snake?” Well, the truth is, plumbing snakes and drain snakes are the same animal. However, for the sake of clarity, we are going to refer to it as a drain snake for the duration of this blog.

With that lengthy introduction out of the way, there are several types of drain snakes that we use in our day-to-day service calls.

What Are the Differences Between Various Drain Snakes?


In the plumber’s arsenal of tools for clearing clogs, the first line of attack comes from the hand augers, which are essentially long springs stored inside of a plastic or metal canister until needed. When fed into a clog, the spring rotates, breaking up the blockage in the drain so it can be flushed away. Hand-driven augers are useful for indoor clogs, such as a toilet or a shower drain clog that is within a six-to-eight foot range from the auger.

The more serious tools are the motor-driven augers, the type we use to unclog the sewer drain lines under your home. Using snake cables with diameters of ¼-inch all the way up to 1-inch, we enter your drain lines through the sewer cleanout access ports around the outside of your home. These motorized augers are great for clearing general dirt and grease clogs (which is about 90% of what clogs drains), but not powerful enough to clear penetrating obstructions from tree roots.

Here is where we get to the big guns this battle, the large-scale drain cleaning machines. These heavy-duty devices can clear drain and sewer lines from 1-inch up to 8-inches in diameter. These powerful motorized augers allow technicians to clear just about everything that can cause a drain line blockage including tree roots.

But I Can Rent a Motor Driven Drain Snake and Do it Myself!!


An unfortunate situation we often encounter in this industry are the well meaning do-it-yourselfers. We would be remiss if we didn’t tell you that unclogging a toilet or shower drain yourself with a screwdriver or a coat hanger does not make you a plumber. Renting a $5,000 piece of equipment that you have NO training in how to use it, nor are you entirely sure WHERE your blockage is a recipe for disaster.

The worst part of this scenario is after you’ve broken the rental machine by trying to force it through too dense of a clog, tracked mud and who-knows-what-else through your home and car, you STILL need to pay a plumbing company to come in and PROPERLY clear out your clog!

Avoid all that unnecessary hassle and get your drain clog cleared properly the first time by calling Nick’s Plumbing and Sewer Services. Our fully-trained, licensed plumbing technicians have been clearing drain clogs in Houston since 1979, and our stellar word of mouth and online reputation speaks to the quality of our work!



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