How To Get A Broken Snake Out Of A Drain Pipe (Do This!)

Nick Durante
by Nick Durante

Drain snakes are a lifesaver when your drain is clogged and you have no other option. However, even drain snakes can break and create an even worse blockage than you had originally. What are you supposed to do if your drain snake breaks inside of the drainpipe?

The quickest option is to get a second drain snake and attach a retrieval tip to it to fish out the broken one. Otherwise, you remove the U-bend under the sink or basin to pull out the broken pieces and clear the blockage. If those methods don’t work, you need to contact a plumber and they may recommend professional excavation in extreme cases.

Nothing is worse than when the solution creates an even bigger problem. Follow along as we explore your options for when a snake breaks within your drainpipe.

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How To Remove Broken Snake From Drain

There are only two ways that you can remove a broken snake from your drain without a plumber’s help. You can either attach a retrieval tip to a new snake to fetch the old one, or you can dismantle the pipe. Accessing the pipe is the only way to directly pull out the broken pieces of the snake from the pipe.

Otherwise, you need to contact a plumber because excavation or serious plumbing work may be required.

Retrieval Tip

Retrieval tips are simple tools that are shaped like corkscrews and can help save the day. They look too simple and good to be true, but they can get a broken snake out of a drainpipe. You can find snake retrieval tips for between $10 and $25, and they are most home improvement stores.

Simply fasten a retrieval tip to the end of a separate plumbing snake before you do anything else. It may seem counterintuitive, but it takes a snake to remove a broken snake sometimes. Feed the snake with the retrieval tip down the drain until you hit the broken snake and pull it up.

It may take a few tries before you hit the broken snake with the retrieval tip. Granted, this may not work if the broken snake is too far down or if the pieces are too far apart. This is a great first solution to try, and it works quite well.

Access the Pipe

It may sound drastic but opening and accessing the pipe may be your only solution to retrieve the broken snake. Broken snakes can lead to major problems, especially if there was already a major blockage. Homeowners only use snakes in the event of a blockage in the first place, so you don’t want to make it worse.

This only works well if you have a large basin to work with that allows for plenty of working space. Gather a pipe wrench so that you can access the pipes and get to work. It should be noted, however, that it is worth contacting a plumber before you attempt this solution.

Step 1. Locate the Pipe

Look underneath the basin or sink to identify which pipe the broken snake is lodged within. Turn off the water supply so that water doesn’t rush out in the later steps. Grab a bucket to collect any excess water that pours out when you access the pipe in the follow step.

Step 2. Unscrew the Nuts

Now, look at your wrench and compare it to the nuts on both sides of the U-bend. Adjust your wrench accordingly to make sure that it is the perfect fit for the nuts. Be careful with the nuts so that you can easily screw them back into place when you are done with this quick fix.

Step 3. Remove the U-Bend

Position your bucket so that it is directly beneath the U-bend. This may be difficult if the basin or space under your sink is too small. Enlist the help of a friend if that is the case so that you can avoid spilling the buildup of water trapped within the U-bend.

Now, carefully pull the U-bend out of place and set it to the side and out of your way. Beware that this part may be gross, and you will likely smell some foul odors released from the pipe.

NOTE: Consider using mechanic towels to place the U-bend on for sanitary reasons. Otherwise, use an old towel or paper towels so that it’s not on the floor or counter surface.

Step 4. Retrieve Broken Snake

Put on some gloves and use a flashlight to look into the opening in the U-bend. Hopefully, you will spot the piece of the broken snake right away. Retrieve the parts of the broken snake either by hand or with small pliers for sanitary purposes.

This step varies based on how the snake broke, and as far as what part of the plumbing snake broke. At the very least, you should be able to remove the tip of it so that you can pull out the rest from the top at the drain. Now, put the U-bend back where it was and secure the nuts back in place.

If all went well, you got the broken pieces of your snake and pulled the rest out through the drain. You will need to try another method if this quick fix didn’t work, unfortunately.

NOTE: Try to clean the pipe before you put the U-bend back in place as it will be exposed. This is the perfect time to get rid of blockages in the pipe without having to worry about using a snake. Clean the debris before you screw the U-bend back in place.

How Do You Fix a Kinked Drain Snake?

You can fix a kinked drain snake by pulling it tightly with both hands several times until it straightens out. Pull the snake out of the drain if you feel it kink up as you are using it to avoid breaking it. It is much easier to straighten a kinked drain snake than to retrieve a broken one.

It is worth straightening your drain snake out before using it every time as a precautionary method. The best way to do it is to place it on the floor, grab one end, and have someone else grab the other end. Each of you can pull on one end at a time to straighten it out.

Prevent Drain Snake From Breaking

The best way to prevent a drain snake from breaking is by making the blockage easier to break through. It sounds easier said than done, but there are many ways that you can make the drain snake’s job easier. Heavy blockages are what usually cause a drain snake to break, so it’s a great idea to soften them up.

1. Boiling Water

Boil some water and pour it down your drain to make the job easier for your snake. Drain snakes are one of the best ways to unclog toilets or clear drain blockages, but they need help sometimes. Pour boiling water down the drain and let it sit for 3-5 minutes before you insert the drain snake.

The boiling water will soften up the blockage, in most cases, and make it easier on the snake. Hot water can even remove small blockages entirely so you may not need to use the drain snake at all.

2.Vinegar and Baking Soda

Pour some baking soda down the drain, let it sit for a few minutes, then add vinegar to it. The vinegar and baking soda will react strongly and help dissolve the blockage. Sometimes, baking soda is enough on its own to dissolve a blockage.

Add vinegar to the drain if the baking soda doesn’t seem to soften up the blockage. The reaction comes on strong and quickly, and it will make it easier for the drain snake.

3. Drano

Use Drano if you tried to use the drain snake but couldn’t get through the blockage. Be careful, however, as leaving Drano or Liquid Plumber in the drain for too long can damage pipes. Let the Drano sit in the Drano for up to seven minutes before you run the water down the drain.

The Drano works to dissolve clogs, but it doesn’t always completely dissolve them. That is where the drain snake comes into play, and it can pick up where the Drano left off. Use Drano before you snake the drain to make your job easier and keep the snake from breaking.

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What Did We Learn?

The best way to remove a broken snake from your drainpipe is to use a retrieval tip. Attach a retrieval tip to another plumbing snake, insert it into the drain, and use it to pull out the broken snake. Otherwise, you can remove the U-bend to pull out the pieces of the broken snake.

Clear the blockage in the drain when the U-bend is removed because you have perfect access. Use boiling water or vinegar before you snake the drain to make it easier on the snake.

Nick Durante
Nick Durante

Nick Durante is a professional writer with a primary focus on home improvement. When he is not writing about home improvement or taking on projects around the house, he likes to read and create art. He is always looking towards the newest trends in home improvement.

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