Plumbing Snake or Chemical Cleaner

A question often asked is whether to use a plumbing snake or a chemical cleaner to clear a clogged drain. There is no right answer to this. It will depend on the situation. In some circumstances, the plumbing snake is preferred, but there is a place for a chemical drain cleaner.

When is a Chemical cleaner preferable?

A chemical cleaner would normally be used instead of a plumbing snake when the blockage is minor or incomplete. If the drainage flow is slower than normal but not sufficiently restricted to cause a problem, this is when a chemical cleaner can be useful. It can reduce the build-up of residue coating the sides of drain pipes and restore flow back to normal.

It may even be necessary to apply a chemical drain cleaner on a regular basis to keep the pipes clear from residue and draining well. This will also decrease the chance of a larger obstruction becoming caught in the drain and causing a complete blockage.

Other minor blockages can be cleared using a plunger. A plunger has the advantage of being less dangerous to use than a chemical drain cleaner and being easier to use than a drain auger or sewer snake.

So When Should You Use A Plumber's Snake?

A plumbing snake is more appropriate when the drain is blocked completely (or nearly so). In this situation most domestic chemical cleaners wont be strong enough to penetrate the blockage and to break it up. Also because of the reduced flow it might be difficult for the cleaner to reach the blockage in sufficient quantity to do any good anyway.

This is when a drain auger comes into it's own. By using a plumbing snake or sewer auger you will be able to reach the blockage and retrieve it or at least break it up and restore the flow. A chemical cleaner may then be applied to remove additional residue and maintain the flow.

Read more about how to use a plumbing snake.