Can You Unclog A Toilet With A Drain Snake?

Correction (4/13/23): An earlier version of this article misstated that drain snakes and plumber snakes were the same things as an auger but they are not.

Toilet clogs seem to always come at the worst time, and dealing with a clogged toilet is no fun. Before purchasing or renting a drain snake, try to identify the source of the clog. First, make sure the clog cannot be fixed by hand –- such as something as simple as the removal of a toy or hand towel. If you cannot see or feel the source of the clog, it's time to try using a plunger to easily dislodge the clog. 

If you have plunged and plunged your clogged toilet and it still is not flushing, you could call a plumber. Those services can be pricey — around $45 to $200 per hour, according to Home Advisor. Before you call for help, consider trying to unclog the toilet yourself with a drain snake. This special tool is a wire coil designed specifically to clear drains. Before you attempt to clear a clog, you should take the time to prepare the toilet and surrounding area to prevent overflowing and to make clean-up easier.

Prepare the Workspace

Start by turning off the water supply by completely closing the shut-off valve. Then, gather the supplies you're going to need, which include rubber gloves, a bucket, and towels. Rubber gloves will come in handy when you have to reach in to remove the source of the clog should it become dislodged and not go down the toilet drain, which you will then deposit into the bucket. By placing towels on the floor around the base of the toilet, splashes will be easier to clean up.

Drain snakes, also known as plumbing snakes, are made to clear clogs while avoiding damage to your home's plumbing, says Nick's. This is the kind of tool a plumber would use to clear that clog, but you can rent or purchase one for a fraction of the cost at your local hardware store. Make sure you get a tool specifically made for toilets that has an angled handle with a crank at the end to extend the coil through your toilet drain. 

Using a Drain Snake

Put on your gloves and insert the drain snake into the toilet and start slowly cranking, says Bungalow. Once it stops or you feel resistance on the other end, you have found the source of the clog. Retract the crank just a bit to see if you feel a pull on the other end. If so, you have attached the coil to the clog. It may take a few tries, but once the clog is attached, retract the drain snake until you bring the clog to the surface. Place it in the bucket for disposal.

Once the clog is removed, turn the water back on and do a trial flush to make sure the toilet is working properly. If you are still getting overflow or it is obvious the drain is not completely clear, turn the water back off and use the drain snake to repeat the procedure until the toilet flushes and the water drains freely. There's also a chance the snake will push the clog through the pipes, which can possibly clear the issue as well.