Bathroom Snaking: Toilet, Sink, and Tub


Snaking bathroom plumbing fixtures is a very effective way of clearing blockages that are not far from the fixture itself, and in fact the vast majority of blockages are in this category.

Typically, bathrooms have three standard fixtures: a tub/shower, a basin, and a toilet. Each of these three is capable of developing a blockage, and each needs a specific approach to snaking.

Bathroom blockages are unique, not just in the fixtures involved, but also in the materials that can form blockages. Tubs and bathroom basins are likely to become blocked with hair, particularly if the bathroom is being used by people with long hair. And of course toilets are susceptible to blockages from any number of things, sanitary or otherwise. A toilet can be blocked not just by waste and toilet paper, but by paper towel (which does not come apart in water as readily as toilet paper), hard items such as children’s toys, and so forth.

Types of snakes

Snakes come in a couple of basic designs. The most simple is a short basic handle with the flexible snake rod and its auger-like tip.


A more advanced version coils the snake in a holder, and includes a better set of handles for easier snaking. Some of these devices can also couple with an electric drill for even more effective snaking.


First steps

The first step in removing a blockage in the bathroom is actually NOT to snake. First, see if the blockage can be simply removed. A bathtub drain might have a mechanical plug that can be easily removed and that might be collecting hair. A toilet blockage might be solved with the use of a plunger. A bathroom basin blockage might be solved by opening and cleaning the trap beneath the bathroom counter.

The symptoms of the blockage might also give a clue as to whether snaking is appropriate. If, for example, running the tap in the bathroom sink causes water to rise up from the tub drain, you might be seeing evidence of a blockage farther down the system from the immediate area of the sink. The problem could, for example, indicate a problem with the drainage system outside the house itself, such as [root penetration][http://masterdrain.ca/drain-pipe-blockage-getting-to-the-root-of-the-problem/]. In that case, professional drain clearing might be indicated.

When these courses of action fail, then a snake is appropriate.

Snaking a tub

Snaking a tub is a bit unintuitive. You would think the logical entry point for the snake would be the tub drain, but in most cases the best approach is to start with the tub’s overflow drain, located above the bottom of the tub. To do so, first remove the overflow drain cover and diverter stopper.

Once that assembly is removed, then send the snake down, entering at the overflow drain opening. If this does not remove the blockage, then also send the snake down the tub floor drain, before reinstalling the drain cover.


Snaking a bathroom sink

A bathroom sink can be unclogged using a standard snake, but it is best to attempt removing the blockage first by fishing out any hairs that might have collected on the strainer in the drain opening itself.

Also, many bathroom sinks have integrated stoppers that use a horizontal pivot rod that pushes a stopper up and down using a vertical stopper rod. This assembly can collect material that will impede flow. Finally, most bathroom sinks have traps that are easily accessible and can contain material that is blocking the drain.


When it comes to snaking a bathroom sink, you can start with the snake entering the drain, as shown. Alternatively, you can use the trap, once opened, as a snake entrypoint.

Snaking a toilet

Before snaking a toilet, first see whether the blockage can be dislodged using a plunger. If not, then snaking the toilet is the next step.

While a toilet can be snaked using conventional snakes of the sorts shown above, there is also a more specialized form of snake called a “closet auger” that is designed for toilet work.

Once the blockage is removed from the toilet, it should flush freely, developing a strong suction. If not, a problem remains. That could be in the form of a blockage still in the toilet’s exit pipe, or it could be that insufficient or slow water flow is entering the toilet bowl from the toilet tank, perhaps caused by a badly adjusted float or poorly seating flapper. Lift the lid and inspect the flushing operation to ensure that the flush of water being sent down to the bowl from the tank is sufficient to generate a strong flushing suction.

Master Drain can handle any sort of pipe blockage. Contact us for help with snaking or pipe clearing.

Master Drain