How to Get a Snake Past the Tub Drain

A snake is a common name for an auger. An auger is designed specifically to remove deeper clogs in drain pipes that the suction action of a plunger will not effectively reach. An auger device consists of a handle that controls a flexible cable. The cable has a corkscrew on the end. If you use an auger down a tub drain, the auger will run into the tee fitting. Therefore, you will need to send the auger through a different route to reach past the tub drain and into the trap and pipe.

  1. Unscrew and remove the screw that secures the bathtub overflow plate, using a screwdriver. Remove the overflow plate. Place rubber gloves on your hands, then gently move and wiggle the assembly located behind the overflow plate and connected to the tub stopper in order to pull out the assembly parts.

  2. Feed the corkscrew tip and cable end of the auger through the overflow hole, down into the exposed overflow tube. Turn the auger handle clockwise, which extends the cable through the overflow tube, down towards the bathtub's P-trap. The corkscrew tip will run into the bend of the P-trap.

  3. Crank the auger handle clockwise with one hand, while pushing down on the auger body, to work the corkscrew tip and auger cable around the curve of the P-trap. Continue cranking the handle clockwise as the cable snakes beyond the P-trap to reach any blockage that is clogging the pipe.

  4. Notice when the auger cable encounters blockage and continue cranking the handle clockwise. The corkscrew tip will either be biting into the blockage, breaking it up, or snagging the blockage. Crank the auger handle counterclockwise in order to retract the cable, while gently pulling up on the auger shaft. Carefully, remove the auger tip from the overflow hole.

  5. Dispose of any hair or other blockage material attached to the corkscrew tip into the bucket. Run the tub water to make sure the water drains properly. Install the assembly inside the overflow hole. Position the overflow plate into place over the hole. Insert the screw and tighten, using the screwdriver. If this method has not worked, continue to step 6.

  6. Shut off the main water supply to the home, from outside. Locate the drum trap, which is often located directly beneath the tub. Remove the drum trap cover, turning counterclockwise with a wrench. Remove the trap's rubber gasket. Feed the auger tip into the drum trap, into the lower pipe. Crank the auger handle clockwise, extending the cable. Crank the handle counterclockwise, in order to retract the cable. Carefully remove the auger from the drum trap and dispose of any blockage the tip has caught into the bucket.

  7. Feed the auger cable into the drum trap's upper pipe, cranking the handle clockwise as the cable maneuvers through the pipe. Crank the handle counterclockwise and carefully pull on the auger to remove the auger from the drum trap. Install the rubber gasket in the trap. Hand tighten the cover on the drum trap, tightening clockwise. Finish tightening the cover with the wrench.

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