Drain Cleaning Tools Explained
Drain cleaning tools like augers or snakes have a tightly coiled, metal wire cable that has enough tensile strength to facilitate the break-up of blockages. However, it will remain flexible enough to move through the turns and fittings of your plumbing drain pipes.
Varying types of heads can be attached based on the size and type of pipe (Orangeburg, Clay, Cast Iron, PVC), style of drain auger being used, and stoppage (paper, grease, roots, sludge) that needs to be remedied. If the drain clog is caused by solid but reducible material, such as tree / plant roots, the auger can break it up enough to clear the clog and restore the free flow of water and waste materials.
Smaller, lightweight obstructions can be entangled in the drain auger cable, enabling the plumber to pull it out through the point of entry. An added benefit is that, as the drain auger rotates through the pipe, it also thrashes against the interior pipe walls aiding in drain cleaning by dislodging grease, sludge, and mineral deposits.
Hand Held Drain Cleaning Auger
Hand held drain augers are used for cleaning smaller drains like lavatory sinks and bathtub drains. The operator turns a crank (some models come with an electric drill attachment option) to rapidly rotate the cable as it moves through the clogged pipe. The ¼ inch cable found on most hand held drain augers should never be used in a drain over two inches in diameter. They are usually ineffective in completely clearing the blockage in larger pipes and can easily become tangled in the pipe making removal very difficult.
Cable style drain augers are not recommended for use though the bowl of flush toilets. The wire can scar the porcelain finish. Also, as mentioned above, toilets have large diameter drain pipes allowing for the small diameter auger cable to become tangled and bound up inside the toilet.
Note: Use caution when using powered tools in your home’s plumbing. Misuse can result in expensive damage to your plumbing and injury to your person. If you have any concerns about their use, always call a licensed plumber to properly diagnose the issue and perform a quality drain cleaning.
Drain Cleaning Toilet Auger
The toilet drain auger feeds a shorter length of drain cleaning cable through a hooked length of tubing.The hooked design facilitates feeding the auger into the drain pipes of the clogged toilet. The hooked section has a rubber or plastic sleeve the end of the auger to protect the porcelain finish of the toilet bowl. Many toilet clogs occur in the “S” shaped trap built into the bowl that prevents sewer gases from getting through . The shorter cable of the toilet auger is usually sufficient to reduce the size of toilet clogs or retrieve the cause of the clog.
The downside to using toilet augers is that they can sometimes just push a clog further down into the drain system beyond their designed length. At that point the toilet may have to be pulled and a more powerful drain cleaning tool will have to be employed. A drain cable machine often referred to as a “plumbers snake”.
Drum Auger – Drain Cleaning Snake
Drum augers or drain cable machines or a “plumbers snake”, are powerful, motorized machines with modular attachments and blades for the effective drain cleaning of larger pipes like kitchen drains and main sewer lines. The attachments and blades are specifically designed for various pipe diameters, style of pipe, and type of drain clog. Drum augers with the appropriate attachment are powerful enough to cut through tree and shrubbery roots, and scrape grease and mineral deposits from the inner lining of the pipes when used properly.
If used improperly, drum augers can easily damage clay, orangeburg, PVC, and even cast iron piping. It is highly recommended that you call on a licensed plumber for these types of stoppages. It is not recommended that home owners use drum augers as the can be very dangerous for the untrained to use.