Snake Won’t Go Down the Shower Drain: Causes & Fixes

The drain snake, also called a drum auger, is one of the best tools for clearing clogs in drains. At times, your drain snake could be malfunctioning or isn’t working as it should. For example, maybe your auger cable isn’t going down the drain or won’t catch any debris when it does go down. The fix is quite simple as you’ll find out.

If your snake drain won’t go down the shower drain, it’s due to a wrong drain snake size, a flawed drain snake, too much force, a loose thumbscrew, or the blockage is too big. Fix this by using the correct drain type, tightening the thumbscrew, cleaning the drain snake, or unclogging with another method.

Drain snakes can also be used to unclog many other drains in the home. For example, pouring coffee grounds in the sink isn’t safe and could lead to a clog which can be fixed with a drain snake.

A Drain Snake in a Sink

Snake won’t go down the shower drain: causes

Using your drain snake improperly can cause scratching or ruining a fixture. Always ensure while inserting your snake, you disassemble the p-trap. The best way to handle your drain is by approaching it the way a professional would, as you don’t want to cause any damage.

Among the reasons why the snake won’t go down the shower drain include the following:

1. Your drain snake is the wrong size

If your drain snake can’t fit into the opening of your drain, you know you have the wrong size. Another way to decipher if you have the wrong size is if you are having trouble pushing the tool a few inches into the overflow pipe. 

If you want to clear a small pipe, then you should use a small drum auger as it is designed with a cable long enough and made relatively thin. This gives you enough room to maneuver thinner pipes.

2. Your drain snake is flawed

At times, it is important to tell when the problem has nothing to do with the size of the pipes and instead lies with your drain snake. For example, if your snake has been damaged from its previous use or has a manufacturing defect, it may have trouble getting into the drain.
If you suspect this may be the case, then look for any defects on the snake. Start by checking if all the components are functioning as they should. If the snake was previously used, check for any clogs attached. 

Lastly, check for any wear and tear if it has been used for a while. If your snake is damaged or you are unable to clear the clogs attached, then you are due for a new drain snake. You won’t be able to work with a defective model.

3. You are using too much force

A common mistake most beginners tend to make is using too much force when feeding the snake into the pipe. Always move slowly with caution and precision as your end goal is to feel for the clogs. 

When you use too much force or are impatient and push too quickly, your drain snake may twist or even bend back, causing it to get stuck in the pipe.

If your snake gets stuck, leave it and call a professional, as you do not want to cause any potential damage to your system. Failure to do that can lead to major damages that may lead to the need for a costly shower base install.
When handling a snake, always ensure you are only pushing the cable a few inches at once before pausing. 

4. The blockage is too big

While a snake can handle most clogs without a fuss, in some cases, the clog is enormous and too much for the snake drain to handle. It can also be too impacted for the snake to grab or dislodge it. This mostly happens if you procrastinate unclogging your drain for a while.

In conclusion, you might not always need a motorized drain snake to remove any clog or debris sitting in your drainage system. If your drain doesn’t go down the drain, you now have an idea why, but how can you fix this? The topic below addresses how to fix all of the above.

How to make a snake go down the shower drain (fixes)

Below are several solutions to make your drain snake go down your shower drain:

Wrong size of drain snakeUse the correct snake type 
Flawed drain snakeTighten auger thumbscrewsBuy another snakeClean the snake
Too much forceUse moderate force
Clog is too bigUse another unclogging method

1. Use the correct type of drain snake

If your drain snake won’t go around bends or reach far, it may mean you are not using the correct type of drain snake. While your local hardware or home center may only have one type, there are more. It’s important to identify the right type of drain snake you should be using for your plumbing. 

The toilet auger is the most common drain snake specifically made for toilets and doesn’t scratch porcelain surfaces. The small drum auger is also meant for routine kitchen or bathroom sink drain clogs. This one can remove small clogs like the clogs caused by using some bath bombs in the shower.

Lastly, we have the extra-long drain auger for clogs embedded deep into your drain or sewer pipe.

2. Tighten the auger thumbscrew

When your drain snake cable doesn’t turn or rotate, you most likely have not tightened the drain auger’s thumbscrew. At the end of the cable that extends from the drum portion of the auger is a metal corkscrew designed to catch the clog. 

So, when you try snagging a clog by twisting it, and you keep turning to no avail, you failed to tighten the thumbscrew.

3. Clean the drain snake

When your drains snake doesn’t bring up any debris, it might be dirty or clogged. This only applies to used drain snakes, as new ones are presumably clean, but if your snake was used previously, it may still have old clogs and needs cleaning to be effective.

4. Use another method to unclog the drain

If your snake won’t grab debris, you are probably trying to auger a clog that can’t be pulled up or snagged. Clogs such as hair respond better to the metal corkscrew end. 

Other substances, such as cooking fat, will not be easily caught and pulled up unless hair strands are embedded. In other cases, the clogs are too dense, and the drain snake cannot force its way through.

Types of drain snakes and their uses

When you have a clog in your drain system and need a drain snake, below are several drain snakes broken down to help you have an easy time figuring out the most suitable option for you:

1. Cable or Drain Augers 

Cable augers use a flexible cable with a corkscrew attached to the end that should be turned manually using a handle on the canister or its container. 

The cable also rotates inside the drainpipe when the handle is turned. The debris is then snagged onto the cable and retrieved from the drain, restoring normal water flow.

2. Flat tape augers

These are quite similar to cable augers, apart from the fact that cables are flat compared to the flexible hose. Flat tape augers are designed for pipes that have 2” or less in diameter, with some made having a spearhead to push the debris instead of removing it. 

This is because a flat tape auger is firmer and can push large clogs through the pipes.

3. Power augers 

These drain snakes have inbuilt motors or are attached to a power drill. Although you still feed the cable down the drain, they are relatively easier to handle. They spin the cable much faster, resulting in more efficient debris removal.

4. Rocket Nozzle Augers

These drain snakes are commercially used by plumbers and work by inserting a tube into the pipe that has the clog. Then, water pressure is shot through the tube at very high pressures meant to remove the blockage. 

Despite being quite costly, it removes any clogs very fast by disintegrating any material in its way and can unclog pipes up to 10” wide.

5. Toilet closet augers

These are specifically meant to unclog toilets and can be manual or powered. They are specifically designed to navigate and maneuver your toilet’s plumbing system easily. In addition, they are made in a way that doesn’t damage or scratch porcelain surfaces.

Last Thoughts

We hope you can now identify your problem, find the right fix, and figure out the most suitable drain snake for your situation. With the right snake drain for your shower drain, you can be using your shower again in no time after unclogging it. Get one today.

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