How to Make a Plumbing Snake Turn Corners?

Also known as a drain snake or drain auger, this tool is meant to reach down into drains to clear clogs that are too stubborn for plungers. Plumbing snakes are an effective way to clear your drains if you prefer not to use chemical drain cleaners however there are some best practices to keep in mind so that it does not do any damage to your pipes.

To ensure your plumbing snake can easily turn corners make sure it is the correct size for the job and that it is made of flexible cables. You should exercise patience and steadiness when inserting a plumbing snake as being too forceful can cause it to recoil towards you and damage the pipe.

Read on for knowledge and tips on how to effectively use a drain snake while minimizing the chance of damage to your pipes.

What is a Plumbing Snake Tool?

A plumbing snake, also known as a drain snake or drain auger, is a tool that is physically inserted into any clogged drain to clear clogs that cannot be otherwise removed with plunging. A plumbing snake is usually made up of a long, flexible metal cable with a small coil on one end and a handle on the other.

Plumbing snake tools are available in various lengths to suit the job and can be easily wrapped up and stored when not in use. When you need to clear a clog, you insert the end with a coil down the drain and rotate the handle which will allow it to further uncoil until the head of it penetrates the obstruction.

Why Is the Snake Tool Not Going Down the Drain?

There may be a few reasons why your plumbing snake is not going down the drain. The first is that your plumbing snake may be the incorrect size or type for the job. For example, using a toilet auger in a sink drain is unlikely to fit as it will be too large to turn the corners of your sink drain.

If you have the correct drain snake for the job, you may be applying too much force when inserting it down the drain. Applying too much force can cause the coil to kink or recoil back towards you. It is also likely to damage the inside of the pipe in the process. You need to insert a plumbing snake with patience and steadiness for it to move through the pipe effectively.

Lastly, your plumbing snake may not be going down the drain because the clog itself is too big and cumbersome for your snake to penetrate. If this is the case, you should call a plumber to assist with the clog rather than attempting to force the plumbing snake through.

How to Make a Plumbing Snake Turn Corners?

Along with patience and a steady hand, these tips will encourage your plumbing snake to easily turn corners once inserted down the drain.

Choose the Correct Size Snake Tool

It is pertinent that you choose a plumbing snake that is the best size for the job you need it for. Choosing the incorrect size or using a snake designed for one type of drain on another can ultimately damage your pipes and prove to be ineffective at clearing the clog.

For example, top snakes are the smallest variety with about 25 feet of cable, designed for use in sink, bathtub, and shower drains. These are designed for small, normal clogs that do not have a lot of buildup.

Conversely, toilet augers, are shaped specifically to fit through the J-shaped pipe of your toilet. This type of plumbing snake is bigger and designed to go deeper into the pipe to clear the clog. Using a plumbing snake of this size in a sink drain will likely result in the snake being unable to pass around corners if at all.

Choose a More Flexible Snake Tool

Your snake tool should have a lot of give. Flexible plumbing snakes have better chances of success at turning corners, going down drains, and minimizing the risk of damage to the inside of your pipes.

5 in 1 Sink Snake Cleaner Drain Auger Hair Catcher, Sink Dredge Drain Clog Remover Cleaning Tools for Kitchen Sink Bathroom Tub Toilet Clogged Drains Dredge Pipe Sewers Forlivese

This 5-in-1 plumbing snake comes with a variety of flexible snake heads in various lengths to match the nature of your drain unclogging job. It is also suitable for various drains including sinks, bathtubs, toilets, and more.

Don’t Force the Snake Tool

Forcing the snake tool can cause it to coil back towards you, meaning that you have to start the process over again and this could increase the risk of damaging your pipes if it catches on or scrapes against them.

Move Slow and Steady

Sometimes, using a plumbing snake can require an extra bit of patience. You should direct your plumbing snake through your pipes slowly and steadily for greater chances of success. If you insert the plumbing snake too hastily, it may catch, scrape, or dig into the pipe which could cause it to get stuck and potentially damage the pipe.

Alternatives to Using a Snake Tool

Drain Cleaner

If you are not fond of the idea of using a plumbing snake or need a clog cleared in a hurry, you can use a drain cleaner. Drain cleaners are available in enzymatic, caustic, and acidic formulas and work to dissolve clogs. You should ensure that liquid drain cleaners are compatible with your piping as the caustic and acidic varieties can corrode old pipes.

Enzymatic drain cleaners are the gentlest and most natural of the types of drain cleaners. The enzymes work to eat away at soft clogs made of natural materials like hair or food. This type of drain cleaner can be used for preventative maintenance of your drains and usually take the longest (up to 12 hours) to clear clogs.

Acidic drain cleaners work by dissolving tough drain clogs though they can also be the harshest on your pipes, eating away at any glue pipe sealants, and corroding the pipes themselves if they are left in the drain for too long.

Caustic drain cleaners, like Drano, work by using an alkaline chemical-based formula that dissolves the clog by heating it. Similar to acidic drain cleaners, these work quickly (some in as little as 30 minutes), and should be thoroughly rinsed out of your pipe system afterward to ensure that they do not warp or corrode your pipes.


Plunging is usually the best option to try first when you have a clogged drain. Using a simple cup plunger with a flat rim creates hydraulic suction in your drain. When you push down, the air and water pressure push the clog downwards and when you pull the plunger upwards, it pulls the clog upwards. This pressurized movement usually helps to dislodge any clogs.

Clean the P-trap

The p-trap is the curved piece of pipe under your sink that connects it to your home’s large drainpipe system. The p-trap is designed with a curve to stifle the reverse flow of sewage gasses from entering your home. Unfortunately, this curve is also where clogs can occur.

Making sure that your tap is off, you can remove the p-trap with a wrench, inspect it, and thoroughly clean it out. This will make for easier snaking or even solve the clog entirely.

Lastly, Call a Plumber

If you have tried all of the options to unclog your drain or are uncomfortable doing so, the best thing you can do to preserve the lifespan of your pipes and water-flow system is call a local plumber.

Final Thoughts

Having a clogged drain can be a nuisance. Thankfully, there are many options to choose from to help you unclog them. Using a plumbing snake is effective and with patience, you should be able to achieve results by yourself. If a clog is too stubborn and you have tried a few methods, do not hesitate to call a plumber as they will get the job done and keep your pipework in good condition.