Having sink plumbing problems? Use a plumber's snake!

Clogged drains seem to happen at the most inconvenient times: while preparing dinner, when guests are . . .

Clogged drains seem to happen at the most inconvenient times: while preparing dinner, when guests are visiting and when it's time to leave for the day. Luckily the long, flexible steel tubing of a plumber's snake, also known as a hand auger, can remedy a sink plumbing problem in just a few minutes.

Most likely your plumbing problem is caused by overloading the garbage disposal or rinsing starchy foods like potato peels down the drain. Disposing of meat drippings, which solidify as they cool, can also cause major plumbing headaches.

Before getting started, slip on a pair of water-resistant work gloves or dishwashing gloves. Then, get a bucket ready to collect the clogging debris. After all, you don't want to drop it back into the sink and have it cause an additional clog.

Safety Note: Never attempt to snake a drain that contains liquid or foaming drain cleaner. These chemicals can burn your skin or eyes if they splash onto you while snaking the drain.

Step 1: Remove everything from the clogged sink including drain plugs, sponges and wash rags. Standing water won't affect the snake, but solid items could become tangled in the barbs on the end of the snake.

Step 2: Feed the end of the plumber's snake into the opening of the sink drain. If the opening isn't visible, use your hands to feel for the opening. Be careful not to touch the end of the snake. It may be sharp.

Step 3: Unwind the coiled tubing of the snake by twisting the handle clockwise. Continue unreeling the plumber's snake until it meets the clog and won't protrude any deeper into the drain.

Step 4: Break up the debris causing the sink plumbing problem by twisting the handle of the snake one full turn to the left, then one full turn to the right. Repeat this process several times. The barbs on the end of the snake will disrupt the clog.

Step 5: Wind the snake back into its housing by turning the handle counterclockwise. Pieces of the debris causing the clog will likely be attached to the end of the snake. When the end of the tool becomes visible, place it in a bucket and use your gloved-hands to remove the clog.

Step 6: Watch for the sink to drain. If the water goes down, rinse the pipes with a steady stream of hot water. This will wash away loosened pieces of the clog. Then, rinse, sanitize and dry the snake.

If the plumber's snake doesn't remove the clog after a few tries, it's time to call a professional plumber in the Atlanta area. Your clog may be a sign of more involved plumbing issues, such as tree roots growing into the pipes or deteriorating pipes.

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