Tips & Tricks

Best Plumbing Snakes & Drain Augers

Clogged toilets and drains can be a nightmare. Get the best plumbing snakes & augers for home and commercial use.

by PlumberAndy

Tips & Tricks

Best Plumbing Snakes & Drain Augers

Clogged toilets and drains can be a nightmare. Get the best plumbing snakes & augers for home and commercial use.

by PlumberAndy

by PlumberAndy

Even if you’re an experienced DIY-er, you may have never run into a reason to use a plumbing snake tool. Though the term broadly refers to any method of freeing a clogged drain of its built-up obstacle, plumbing snakes are generally listed, within industry circles, as a motorized method for clearing a blocked-up pipe.

Though these methods can be more hands-on than traditional stick-style pipe cleaners or liquid drain cleaners, these plumbing snakes can help get your sinks and household fixtures back to working order in no time. Though they require some knowledge and experience to operate, you'll quickly see that a plumbing snake is a valuable asset when it comes to keeping your home drain pipes running optimally.

While not every pipe clog requires a plumbing snake, many of the most common clogs can be remedied through its powerful mechanical equipment. If you’ve decided that a plumbing snake is the best solution for your clogged pipes, check out the following reviews to find which of the newest industry-leading models will best fit your needs and your budget.

Types & Sizes of Augers

Types

  • Manual
    As their name suggests, these plumbing snakes use a manual method for dislodging pipe clogs. Usually, this comes in the form of a plastic forked apparatus that is inserted into the drain and turned until the clog is broken up or freed.
  • Electric
    Electric augers often work similarly to manual augers in so far as they work to break up and remove clogs through a tool-based medium. However, rather than functioning on the user's power, electric models use an engine or battery to electronically drive the process, increasing torque and reducing effort overall.
  • Mechanical
    These augers tend to bridge the gap between manual and electronic augers with regards to function. While these methods require the manual operation of its user, they can simplify the effort needed to remove a pipe clog by adding some type of mechanized component. Often, these components increase torque and allow for a more effective clog removal than a manual apparatus alone could accomplish.

Sizes

  • Top snake
    These small handheld plumbing snakes are compact and best suited to removing clogs in household drains. Often, these mechanical augers can be used on sink drains in both the bathroom and kitchen, with a functional length up to 25 feet in many cases.
  • Toilet Auger
    These simple mechanical augers are unique in their form factor and function such that they can slip down a toilet’s main piping without damaging the porcelain surface or protective coating. These are designed to be used when a manual plunger will not suffice.
  • Medium Snake
    When a top snake does not suffice to clear a clog, a medium snake acts as the next step up in both size and function. These models tend to be electronic and make use of a motor to provide both torque and pressure. Professional plumbers most often use medium snakes when they are called to on-sight jobs.
  • Large or Heavy Snake
    These snakes are the absolute top end of the plumbing snake spectrum in terms of size and function. Though these heavy snakes can clear virtually any impaction, they are also the most expensive by far. These models are generally only used by plumbers who expect to work in industrial settings for an extended period.

What to Consider When Buying A Plumbing Drain Snake

Power Source

As with any other tool in your collection, you should give special consideration towards the power source based upon how much and what type of effort you want to put into this specific job. Hand-powered plumbing snakes work well for small or straightforward clogs, while electric and battery-powered models provide extra torque beyond what the human hand alone can produce. If portability is a consideration on your shopping list, also consider that both hand-powered and battery-powered models do not require a direct plugin.

Length of Cable

Rather than referring to the length of the power cable, cable length in the context of plumbing snakes refers to how far into a pipe a snaking mechanism can reach. Most models clock in at 25 ft. (for nearby clogs), while some consumer models reach up 50 ft. or more (for clogs deeper in a piping system).

Auger Mechanism

Not all plumbing snakes use the same mechanism to break up and free clogs. Each auger mechanism applies a different type of pressure to the clog that takes advantage of the type of piping or fixture it appears in. For instance, the auger mechanism in a toilet auger is narrow enough to navigate a toilet’s drain line without scratching the porcelain surface.

There are many other auger mechanisms though, including the standard cable auger which can push through or pull out a clog. Be sure to check the listing on your desired model to ensure that its auger mechanism is appropriate for your situation.

Cable Ends and Attachments

Like a woodworking drill, some plumbing snakes include detachable ends and specialized attachments that can accomplish jobs that ordinary heads alone cannot complete. These specialized ends and attachments are generally used to accommodate unique piping architecture or unique clog construction.

Cable Diameter

In the context of plumbing snakes, cable diameter refers to the size of the snake cord itself (rather than the power cord that supplies the device). Choosing the right cable diameter is important because only specific cable sizes will fit into small pipes, while a small cable diameter may not supply enough torque in an extra-large pipe.

Warranty

As with many types of tools, an applicable warranty can be the difference between swift return and a hair-pulling customer service experience. Some manufacturers provide a guarantee to simplify returns in case of an unexpected part failure. Always check the warranty procedure on the desired model as some manufacturers require you to mail in a specific document to activate the warranty coverage.


10 Best Plumbing Snakes Reviewed

1. Ridgid GIDDS-813340 41408 

Best Home Plumbing Snake (Top Pick)

Power Source

Mechanical or with a drill

Cable Type

MAXCORE

Cable Length

25 ft.

Speed

500 RPM

Drain Line Capacity

1/2-inch to 1-1/2-inch (12.6 mm to 40 mm)

Ridgid has often put out some of the best tools for addressing pipe clogs, and in the Ridgid GIDDS-813340, they’ve succeeded once more in creating the best home plumbing snake. This model – our top pick – is multifunctional and powerful, with the ability to clean out both sink drains and toilet pipes with up to 500 RPM of torque (EIDGID Power Spin required for maximum power).

This model's auger self-feeds into and out of the drain quickly and smoothly, allowing you to operate this drain snake without ever placing your hands upon the functional components. These functional components are also ensured for workmanship with a lifetime warranty, meaning that RIDGID will replace or repair the tool for free, forever, should something within it break.

Overall, there is no better plumbing drain snake option for large and small homeowners than the Ridgid GIDDS-813340.

Pros
  • No-mess operation through rotating drum mechanism
  • Can be equipped with a drill for extra torque up to 500 RPM
  • Lifetime warranty with free repair and replacements
Cons
  • Cord prone to kinking
  • Tends to spray a bit when used at top speeds

2. General Pipe Cleaners R-25SM 

Best Home Plumbing Snake (Runner Up)

Power Source

Mechanical

Cable Type

Heavy-gauge corkscrew wire

Cable Length

25 ft.

Speed

N/A

Drain Line Capacity

1-1/4 inch to 2 inches

The General Pipe Cleaners R-25SM comes in as a close runner up for the best overall home plumbing snake, thanks in large part to its easy operation. Using the T-Grip handle, even amateur DIY-ers will be able to bust clogs with this model without taking on excessive hand strain. This model's full-sized thumbscrew also turns effectively, ensuring that the chuck is always well secured.

To make matters even better, the General Pipe Cleaners R-25SM is among the most affordably priced models on the market today. As such, this model is best suited to homeowners and DIY-ers who want a reliable drain snaking solution without spending hundreds of dollars.

Pros
  • Affordably priced for entry-level use
  • T-Grip is comfortable to hold and provides minimal operator strain
  • Thumb screw chuck for easy tightening
Cons
  • Does not support a drill
  • Plastic tip is prone to wear

3. RIDGID 59787 K-3 

Best Plumbing Snake for Toilet

Power Source

Mechanical

Cable Type

compression-wrapped inner core with bulb auger

Cable Length

3 ft.

Speed

N/A

Drain Line Capacity

½ inch

Inevitable plumbing clogs require special attention from a purpose-built tool. Toilets are one such location, requiring a unique vinyl guarded cable that can protect fragile porcelain coating. Luckily, the RIDGID 59787 K-3 Toilet Auger provides just that, making it easily the best plumbing snake for toilets.

In addition to its all-important exterior coating, this model’s cable is also particularly durable. With a compression-wrapped inner core, this model can remain flexible to move through an S-bend without kinking. This cable is even certified to effectively unclog the unique pipes found on WaterSense and general water-efficient toilets.

All in all, the RIDGID 59787 K-3 Toilet Auger is the best snaking option for families with children who are prone to clog up the toilet regularly.

Pros
  • A vinyl guard on the wire to protect the porcelain
  • Durable construction that is both kin-resistant and corrosion resistant
  • Works in WaterSense and water-efficient toilets
Cons
  • The bulb is tough to clean
  • May not be long enough for upper floor fixtures

4. RIDGID 35473 K-45AF 

Best electric plumbing snake

Power Source

Electric

Cable Type

vinyl-wrapped inner core

Cable Length

25 ft. To 50 ft.

Speed

600 RPM

Drain Line Capacity

3/4-inch to 2-1/2-inch

When it comes to versatility, few other models can match what the RIDGID 35473 K-45AF has to offer. This model can be switched from its 25 ft. Base drum to a 50 ft., 5/16-inch cable drum in mere minutes. With such versatility built in, it’s no wonder plumbers see this model as one of the best electric plumbing snakes available today.

No matter what size drum this model is equipped with, it always advances and retrieves smoothly through its in-line auto feed system. While some see this model’s corded architecture as limiting, you can always count on it to supply as much power as you’ll ever need to loosen a troublesome sink clog. As such, folks looking to minimize how much work they have to put in to remove sink clogs should put the RIDGID 35473 K-45AF at the top of their list.

Pros
  • Two-way auto feed makes more simple insertion and retrieval
  • Interchangeable drum accommodates up to 50 ft. of cord
  • The durable vinyl-wrapped inner core remains flexible after each use
Cons
  • Expensive for DIY-ers
  • A cable may fall off real if improperly installed

5. RIDGID 14053 SeeSnake 

Best plumbing snake with camera

Power Source

Electric

Cable Type

hardened stainless steel with a camera

Cable Length

200 ft.

Speed

N/A

Drain Line Capacity

2 inches – 12 inches

Removing extra-large clogs can be troublesome if you don’t have an extra set of eyes in the pipe, guiding you towards the clog’s weak points. Though it’s designed primarily for professionals, the RIDGID 14053 SeeSnake can provide that kind of enhanced visibility through its built-in camera.

With its six built-in LED lights and SeeSnake monitor compatibility, you’ll be able to quickly identify and remove even the heftiest main line clogs without the need for a full replacement.

This model’s hardened steel case keeps its camera node functional at up to 330 feet, allowing it to be used on civil-scale sewer clogs. While DIY-ers certainly won't be able to afford this model, there's simply no doubt that professional and civil plumbers will find a variety for this, the best plumbing snake with a camera available today.

Pros
  • 6 LED lights for enhanced camera viewing
  • 512 Hz sound transmitter for accessible pipe location
  • Camera functions up to 330 feet and is compatible with SeeSnake monitors
Cons
  • Priced for professional use
  • Requires training to use properly

6. Drainx Pro 

Best 50 ft plumbing snake

Power Source

Mechanical

Cable Type

Spiral head

Cable Length

50 ft.

Speed

N/A

Drain Line Capacity

1-1/4 inches to 3 inches

Many DIY-ers don’t have much piping to work with, making some of the larger plumbing drain snakes an inefficient solution to an annoying problem. In such cases, homeowners should turn to the best 50 ft. Plumbing snake – the Drainx Pro 50-FT.  With its spiral head, you can certainly count on this drain snake to easily fish out frequent household clogs, such as hair and food debris.

Even for its standard length, the Drainx Pro 50-FT. Is fairly durable. This can be seen in its durable steel drum housing. Folks who aren't accustomed to using a mechanical drain snake should also give this model a hard-luck, given that it comes with an easy-to-interpret instruction set.

Pros
  • Durable steel drum housing is built to last
  • Comes with work gloves and zipper carry pouch
  • Comes with easy-to-interpret instructions
Cons
  • Chuck screw may strip if overused
  • The handle is not well cushioned

7. COBRA PRODUCTS GIDDS-211332 

Best 100 ft plumbing snake

Power Source

Electric

Cable Type

Slotted cable with cutter end

Cable Length

100 ft.

Speed

N/A

Drain Line Capacity

4 inches to 10 inches

Multi-level homes are as prone to pipe clogs any other, but they face problems when it comes to accessing main drain pipe clogs from the upper floors.

Often, up to 100 ft of cable is necessary, which is where the COBRA PRODUCTS GIDDS-211332 comes into the equation. Its slotted cable is specifically able to clear those tough-to-reach clogs, making it the best 100 ft. plumbing snake option

The COBRA PRODUCTS GIDDS-211332 also provides a great amount of power through its ¾ horsepower engine.

This engine adds some heft to this model overall, all the way up to 214 lbs. While this is heavy on its own, this model also comes with a built-in transportation dolly, making this the best option for folks who want extra declogging power without the need to transport a cumbersome device.

Pros
  • Built-in transport for 214 lbs. frame
  • ¾ horsepower motor with thermal overload protector
  • “Tilt-a-way” power feed for smooth insertion
Cons
  • Slow operation
  • Not for everyday use

8. FlexiSnake Drain Weasel 

Best plumbing snake for hair clog/removal

Power Source

hand-powered

Cable Type

Plastic with micro hooks

Cable Length

1.5 inches

Speed

N/A

Drain Line Capacity

½ inch to 1 inch

DIY-ers always love the cheap and efficient solution, and in the field of sink clog removal, the FlexiSnake Drain Weasel Sink Snake fits that bill without question. Unlike store brand manual drain snakes, the FlexiSnake Drain Weasel features patented micro hooks that can grab onto even the thinnest drain built-up. As such, this model is absolutely the best plumbing snake for hair clog removal.

Many regular plastic drain snakes are rigid and unable to move past the U-bend. The FlexiSnake Drain Weasel, on the other hand, is flexible enough to work into this often-clogged area efficiently. This, in turn, makes the FlexiSnake Drain Weasel the best overall option for folks who want to free their pipes of annoying impediments without disassembling their fixture at all.

Pros
  • Patented micro hook construction ideal for grabbing hair
  • Flexible construction allows for easy bend navigation
  • Made in the USA
Cons
  • Hooks tend to wear down and break after several uses
  • Does not work without handle

9. Ryobi P4001 One+ 18V Lithium-Ion All-In-One

Best battery powered plumbing snake

Power Source

Battery

Cable Type

Reinforced corkscrew

Cable Length

25 ft.

Speed

N/A

Drain Line Capacity

2 inches

When it comes to buying new power tools, some DIY-ers prefer to pick up an option that is already compatible with their existing tool chest. If you count yourself among these frugal ranks, then you’ll appreciate the fact that the Ryobi P4001 is fully compatible with all of the regular-sized batteries in the Ryobi One+ family.

Functionally, these batteries empower the Ryobi P4001 to operate its auto-feed lock mechanism, which in turn engages the bearings without the need for extra operator engagement. Along with the powered forward and reverse feeding mechanism, the Ryobi P4001 is the best option for DIY-ers looking to cut down their overall fatigue while trying to rid their home of troublesome clogs.

Pros
  • Minimizes user fatigue through powered forward and reverse functions
  • On-board rear drain prevents water build-up in device
  • 3-year manufacturer warranty
Cons
  • The drum is not replaceable
  • Lacks forward mounted handle

10. Drainx Pro Steel 

Best Complete Auger Kit

Power Source

Mechanical

Cable Type

standard

Cable Length

25 ft.

Speed

N/A

Drain Line Capacity

¼ inch through 3 inches

Drain clogs are a minor annoyance at best and a complete maintenance disaster at worst. As such, you may very well need the best complete auger kit to get you off the ground quickly and well on your way to clearing your home's pipes. The Drainx Pro Steel can undoubtedly provide this kind of low barrier to entry, given that it comes with a set of gloves and carry bag standard.

Current users have found this model's mechanical turning knob to be particularly easy operate, allowing even first-timers to manually drive out troublesome sink clogs without the need for superhuman strength. While Drainx Pro Steel may not be the strongest plumbing drain snake on the market, it is undoubtedly one of the easiest to operate from the perspective of a novice.

Pros
  • Comes with carrying bag and gloves for a quick start
  • Easy-to-operate turning knob for manually driven snaking
  • Front-mounted thumbscrew keeps cord secure
Cons
  • Difficult to clean
  • Some components tend to bend and break after a few uses

Clog Types and Corresponding Drain Snake

Not every drain snake is built to handle every different type of clog. Consider the following options when trying to choose a drain snake based upon the nature of your specific clog:

First, the so-called "top snake" models are best suited to most common clogs found in household sink fixtures. These models can mechanically dislodge and remove clogs made from ordinary household matter (small food, grease, hair, etc.).

Second, you may consider a “medium snake” or mini-rooter if your clog has occurred in a medium sized pipe or is made up of more resilient materials (such as mineral build-up). Professional plumbers use these drain snakes regularly, so they should be used only with practice and with attention to the stability of the afflicted pipes.

Sewer augers and giant snakes are generally used only for mainline pipe clogs that stop up access to an entire building's sewer access. These models can free clogs made from nearly any material, but also carry the highest risk for infrastructure damage.

Specialized toilet snakes also exist and should be used whenever they are available. These models can fit into toilets narrow piping architecture and are gentle enough not to damage the toilet's important porcelain coating.


How to Best Use a Plumbing Drain Snake?

Use of a drain snake depends significantly on its primary auguring mechanism and its power source. As such, you should always consult your user's guide before operating a plumbing snake for the first time.

For most folks looking for instructions on how to use a “medium snake” model, check out the following video:


Tips to Avoiding Drain Clogs

While you may not be able to prevent all drain clogs, there are several best practices you can follow to decrease your risk for these troublesome impediments.

  • First, use an appropriate drain strainer to catch large debris. In a shower, this strainer may catch hair (if the built-in drain cap does not already do so) while on a kitchen sink, a removable, concave strainer may grab up significant bits of food.
  • Second, keep your garbage disposal in proper working order (if you have one). Always run water through the disposal while it is in operation and never drop in food debris before turning the machine on. Also, do not ever pour grease down the drain, as this can gum up a garbage disposal and coalesce further down in the drain if it cools.
  • Third, don't place any materials down an appliance or floor drain simply because it is small enough to fit through. Substances can build up around bends, causing debris that is usually small enough to fit through to become hung up, which in turn causes a clog over time.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you turn a drain snake into a corner?

First, bend the snake several inches from the cutter (3 to 4 inches, usually) in the direction of the corner. Then, insert the snake into the drain, working carefully to hook the newly-bent cutter into the bend (this may take a few tries).

Crank the drain snake while continuing to apply pressure, as this should continue to push the snake further through the bend.

How do you unclog a slow drain?

Slow drains are often clogged up with some degree of debris, though not yet fully clogged such that water will no longer pass through at all. Such partial clogs can be dislodged through all of the means used to remove a full clog, such as vinegar and baking soda mixture.

You may also consider a simple drain snake if you believe the slowdown is caused by an impaction within the drain's body.

How often should you snake your drain?

There is not a precise volume of drain snaking one should undertake, regardless of their sink usage. One should use their drain snake at least on a regular schedule if they wish to avoid build-up clogs entirely.

However, folks who do not correctly filter what goes down their drain or garbage disposal will find that they need to use their drain snake more often.

How much does drain cleaning cost?

Precise costs for drain cleaning can vary based on the location of the clog and what level of professionalism you seek to resolve it. DIY solutions tend to be the cheapest, requiring only the cost of the materials needed to remove the clog.

Professional assistance can cost, on average, between $100 and $300, depending on how much time and materials the plumber must expend to access your drains and free the clog.

Can I rent a plumbing snake?

Depending on where you live, you may be able to rent a plumbing snake from a local rental dealership. Also, some national tool retailers, such as the Home Depot, offer tool rentals at their brick-and-mortar stores. Precise tool offerings may vary by location.

Where is the best place to buy a plumbing snake?

Whether you’re looking for a simple manual pipe cleaner or a multi-function drill-type unit, you will almost certainly be able to find the best prices at Home Depot.

Generally, their stores offer the best ability to compare and contrast options, as well as receive advise from on-sight experts who can recommend a specific solution based upon your unique situation.


Conclusion

Unclogging your sink or toilet pipes is not a desirable job by any stretch of the imagination. But at least you can combat such obstructions with one of these durable plumbing drain snakes.

As identified above, the Ridgid GIDDS-813340 stands out as the best all-around drain snake option for its ability to work in both sinks and toilets. Whichever model you buy, be sure to use what you’ve learned to find a drain snake packed with the features you need and a price that won’t break your budget.

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