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Toilet Auger vs. Snake: When and How to Use Them

Seeing the water rise instead of disappearing into the drain when you flush can bring on a wave of panic. But the problem can often be resolved quickly. Common tools for doing so include a toilet auger and a toilet snake (at first, both look quite similar). Here, we’ll look at the differences between a toilet auger vs. snake and how each works. And, most importantly, when to call a plumber.

Toilet Auger vs. Snake


Toilet Auger

A toilet auger is a heavy-duty tool. The typical auger has a manual crank that winds the auger down the drain. A closed-spear tip pushes against the clog and forces itself into it, to break down the material and push it towards the sewer line.

An auger is longer than a snake and is suited for 1.5- to 3-inch-wide pipes. It usually doesn’t come with an operating manual, but it’s important to use one carefully, following these steps:

  1. Place the auger in the toilet, with the curved end facing the drainpipe; leave about 4 to 6 inches between the cable and handle.
  2. Turn the crank handle clockwise to guide the auger down without forcing it.
  3. Resistance means you’ve reached the clog; stop turning the auger, and then apply more pressure to move it forward.
  4. Withdraw the auger when you feel it has pushed through the blockage or latched onto it.
  5. Once the auger is clear, flush the toilet; if it’s still blocked, repeat the process above.


Toilet Snake

A snake is smaller than an auger, but often more successful than plungers at removing clogs. There may be a helix-shaped hook to maneuver through the pipe by turning the crank. The device should remove any blockage that is dense and shreddable. It’s also more suited for smaller, 1¼- to 2-inch diameter pipes.

To use a toilet snake:

  1. If the snake doesn’t have a crank handle, feed the cable in by hand; wear gloves as the metal coil can irritate your hands.
  2. If it has a crank handle, rotate the snake to navigate twists and bends in the pipe.
  3. The snake should slide more easily once it passes the toilet’s initial bends until it reaches the clog.
  4. Stop the snake when you reach the clog, and slowly twist the end.
  5. When it stops twisting, try to pull out the blockage carefully so as not to put too much tension on the coil.
  6. With the clog removed, try to flush the toilet; use the snake again if it is still blocked.


The main difference between a toilet auger vs. snake is how they remove materials clogging a pipe. A snake is designed to pull out clogs. Augers are more for forcing through a blockage and breaking it up. However, both may be manual or electric (plug-in or cordless). Some units have a drum that can contain anywhere from a few feet to 100 feet or more of cable.

Removing a clog from a toilet drain can sometimes be difficult. If using a toilet auger or snake doesn’t fix the problem, there may be another reason your toilet won’t flush or drain. A trained plumber is equipped to find such issues and correct them.

Request Help from Village Plumbing & Air

Our technicians are trained to quickly find and remove blockages and check for other issues, like those that may require professional drain cleaning. They have more sophisticated toilet augers and snakes than you’ll find in a typical store to get your toilet working again. Request service online or call 713-526-1491 today to schedule a visit.

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