Nicolette Forbes

By: Nicolette Forbes on June 1st, 2022

Print/Save as PDF

Is It Bad To Snake My Pipes?

Plumbing | Drains

Clogged drains can cause massive flooding and water damage to your home, which sounds like a headache. Sometimes paper products or hair clog up the pipes, making it impossible for water to flow. When this happens, unclogging the drain is necessary but what is the best way to clear the blockage? Is it snaking?

What is snaking? Can snaking make the problem worse??

In this article, we will discuss what a snake is, how it works, signs you may need a snake service, along with its benefits and drawbacks. Monkey Wrench Plumbing is dedicated to helping you with any of your plumbing needs, including deciding whether or not snaking is right for your situation. With all this information, you’ll be able to make the best decision for yourself and your pipes.

What is a Snake?

Before we jump into whether or not snaking is right for your and your main line, we’ll first define what it is.

A snake is a device that is used to remove clogs that block drains and pipes. It looks similar to a hose but has a much different purpose. A snake is comprised of a long, flexible metal cable and a small uncoiled spring on one end and a handle on the other side. 

A handheld snake 

A snake will unravel down the drain and eventually reach whatever is causing the backup in your pipes. Snakes are often used when the clog is too big for a trusty plunger to solve. Snakes can be used on tub and shower drains, kitchen sinks, and bathroom sinks. 

While snakes are much more powerful than plungers, they are trickier to use which is why we recommend that you call a plumber to snake your pipes. 

Snaking your pipes yourself can potentially cause further damage to your plumbing system and if you are not sure how to use a snake, you could potentially hurt yourself. 


How Does a Snake Work?

A snake is used to clear out blockages in your drains, but how does it work exactly? There are a few steps on how a plumber will operate a snake to clear your pipes: 

  • Prepare Drain and Insert Snake

A plumber will start the snaking process by either sending the spring side of the snake down the drain or removing what is called the “p-trap.” The p-trap is the curved piping under your sink that can be removed either by hand or with a wrench. 

  • Uncoil The Snake and Clear The Blockage

After the spring is in the drain or pipe, your plumber will start uncoiling or unraveling the spring. The coil will continue to move down the piping until it reaches the blockage and your plumber will keep snaking until the clog is cleared.

  • Test For Unclogged Pipes

Once your plumber feels like the drain or pipe is unclogged, they will remove the snake and check to see if the blockage has been cleared. If it looks like your pipes are still not draining correctly, then we recommend that you ask your plumber to continue the snaking process. 

Snaking a kitchen sink 

Snaking can be considered a temporary fix to your main line issues but how can you tell it’s time to snake your pipes?


Signs It Is Time For a Snake

Your main sewer line is the pipe that goes from your home to the city connection or the septic tank. Waste from every shower, sink, garbage disposal, and toilet makes its way here. Many people think of the main line as a highway for sewage where the smaller drains connect to like roads. You can learn more about your main sewer line here.

But how can you tell it’s time to snake your main line? Some of the signs include: 

  • Back-ups in Your Home

If you are experiencing a backup or your sewage coming out of the lowest part of your home, then you probably have a main line issue. The lowest part of your home is typically your toilet, tub, or stand-up shower.

  • Loud Noises

If you flush a toilet or use water and you hear gurgling in a different area of the home, there could be a main line problem. Gurgling is caused when something is preventing water or air from flowing through your drains. As the water slowly travels through your drains, air bubbles begin to form and create a gurgling sound. 


Benefits and Drawbacks of Snaking

Snaking your main line sounds like a great way to clear blockages or clogs from your pipes but is it the best option for you?

Benefits of Snaking Your Main Line:

  • Safety

Snaking your pipes is generally considered safe. There is very little risk of damaged pipes because the snake's cables are flexible and bend with the sewer system.

  •  Effective

As the old saying goes, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” This rings true for snaking pipes as it has proven over decades that it is a quick and effective way to fix most stoppages. 

  • Cost-Saving

Services like hydro-jetting, which we go more into what that is, how it works, and what it costs here, can be more expensive. Snaking your pipes, it can be a cost-effective way to fix your drainage problems. 

Drawbacks of Snaking Your Main Line:

  • Temporary Fix

While it is an effective way of clearing blockages, snaking is a temporary fix to your plumbing problems as it does not prevent a stoppage from happening again. You must continue to be mindful of the things (food, grease, wet wipes, feminine products, objects) that go down your drains.

  • Pipe Damage 

While snaking is generally considered safe for your pipes, it can damage your pipes if they are in bad shape. Homes that have older pipes are more susceptible to this happening as hairline cracks and corrosion occur over time.

  • More Clogs

Surprisingly, snaking your main line can potentially make the clog worse. The snake could pack the clog in even tighter, meaning your plumber may have to remove that section of the pipe.


To Snake or Not To Snake? That Is The Question

To recap, we discussed what a snake is, how it works, signs to look for when it is time for a snaking service, along with the benefits and drawbacks of a snake. While snaking seems like a great temporary solution to your main line problems, we recommend that you use the information above to make the best decision for you and your home. We do not recommend frequently snaking your pipes if you have older pipes in your plumbing system as it can cause further damage.

But is snaking the only option to clear blockages in your pipes? Nope! Read this article here to learn about hydro-jetting just in case you can’t clear your blockage with a snake and this one here to determine whether or not hydro-jetting is right for you because hydro-jetting is not always the best option for every home.

If you live in the L.A. area and are experiencing any issues with your drains and may need to snake your main line, hit the ‘Book’ button below to request an appointment. Or if you have any other plumbing concerns, call us at 310-853-8690, and one of our call center representatives would be happy to help you.