The Art of Running a Snake
There’s an art to using a drain snake, and the more experience you have, the better you’ll be at it. Here’s how you do it. Loosen the setscrew or chuck to allow the cable to come out of the drum freely. Now feed the cable into the drain until you can’t push it any more. It may be stuck on the clog or simply meeting resistance where the drainpipe bends.
Position the end of the drum so there’s about 4 inch. of cable showing between the drain and the drum, and tighten the setscrew or chuck onto the cable. Withdraw the cable about an inch so that it’s free of the obstruction, and start turning the drum while you push it toward the drain. Continue until you’ve pushed the exposed cable down the drain. Then repeat the process by loosening the setscrew and withdrawing another 4 in. of cable. If the end of the cable gets stuck you need to build more tension into the spiral so keep turning and this could take a long time if you have over 10feet of spiral to build tension. The snake will only go trough a bend if it has enough tension and you can push it little by little, no more then 4inch at a time.
Several things can happen at this point. You might bore through the clog, allowing water to run through and dissolve the remaining clog. You might push the clog to a point where the diameter of the pipes is larger and it can wash down the drain. Or you might hook the clog with the end of the snake and pull it out. This is where your intuition comes into play. When you think you’ve unclogged the drain, withdraw the snake. If you’ve pushed the cable down through the basket strainer, you can rinse it off as you retrieve it by running water. Otherwise, put on some gloves and wipe the cable off with a rag as you push it back into the drum.
When you’re done cleaning the drain, pull the cable out of the drum, rinse it off, and wipe it down with an oil-soaked rag to keep it from rusting.