The toilet auger is the secret weapon of any plumber that knows their business. It’s a toilet-saver even in the most hopeless situations. Many homeowners aren’t aware of its existence and end up paying good money for a stranger to use a tool that costs up to 50 bucks. In the toilet business, we call that the cost of a lack of knowledge.
Some of the other perks of owning your toilet auger, besides the functionality, is the self-satisfaction it gives the regular person after successfully fixing the toilet at just a fraction of the plumber’s cost. Nothing will make you feel more like a handyman than fixing a nightmarish clog that leaves your household members stumped. But that’s enough daydreaming, time to unclog a toilet.
What Is a Toilet Auger
A toilet auger is a fancy toilet snake that can clear clogs jammed in the toilet’s depths. Like most toilet or drain snakes, the auger has a handle cranked to turn a flexible metal cable that can dislodge even the most stubborn clogs.
The toilet auger cable is outfitted with a rubber sleeve that protects your toilet’s inside from scratches. It’s convenient if you have a porcelain toilet that a regular toilet snake or coat hanger can damage. The cable fits through the metal tube; the cable tips work like a hand drill to bore through the clog in the toilet.
As the instrument is designed to handle poop and other disgusting items down in the drain, you might think it’s stinky, sticky, and generally a nuisance for storage, but that’s not the case. Toilet augers are meant to be submerged in water; you can thoroughly clean them after every use in your bathtub or backyard.
You don’t need anything but your two hands to operate the toilet auger. Drain tools can pick up toxic bacteria from the bottom of the toilet or pipes, so wearing a pair of protective goggles and elbow-height rubber gloves is a must.
Toilet Auger vs Toilet Plunger
When a toilet becomes clogged, the first course of action is to try using a toilet plunger. This tool is similar to a standard cup-style plunger used on an ordinary sink, tub, or shower drain, but it has a center flange that allows you to seal the tool against the drain opening in the toilet for plunging. Very often, this tool alone will free whatever clog is causing the problem. But it is best suited for clogs found in the toilet’s built-in trap, and it doesn’t work very well on clogs found past the toilet itself, in the branch drain that leads to the main soil stack. The toilet must be lifted to access the piping for major clogs that lie past the toilet itself.
How to Use a Toilet Auger
- Insert the Toilet Auger CablePull the auger handle up all the way so that the end of the cable is close to the curved bottom end of the auger tube. This curved elbow portion will make feeding the cable into the toilet more accessible, and the rubber or plastic sleeve will protect the toilet from scratches. When properly inserted, you should not be able to see the end of the auger cable; you will see only the tube and sleeves. Always wear gloves when handling the toilet auger cable.
2. Crank the Handle
Like any drain snake, the toilet auger works by rotating the cable, so it moves into the drain opening by a screwing action. In the case of toilets, most clogs occur in the first section of the drain, in the trap configuration built into the porcelain body of the toilet. The toilet auger has enough cable to reach past the toilet, sometimes as far as the main soil stack. But if the clog lies beyond that point, such as in the main sewer line, you will need a different solution.
Use one hand to hold the toilet auger housing and keep it in place. With the other hand on the handle, gently crank the drill to work the cable into the toilet drain. Work slowly and patiently because too much force can cause the cable to double back on itself rather than move through the drain. To get the cable into the toilet, you may need to reverse the direction of the cranking motion a couple of times.
Crank in one direction until the cable will feed no further, then switch to the other direction and continue to gradually feed the cable until the auger handle is tight against the top of the auger tube. Rotate the cable several times once it has reached its full extension. You may be able to feel when the cable reaches the clog, evident by the resistance.
3. Extract the Cable
Once the cable has been forced through the clog, pull the toilet auger cable out of the toilet by rotating the handle and pulling backward. When the tip of the auger is tight against the tube, remove the entire tool from the toilet bowl.
4. Flush the drain
with the cable removed, flush the toilet to see if the clog has disappeared. In most cases, the clog now flushes onward through the toilet and into the drain system. Flush the toilet several times to make sure it has cleared completely.Repeat the snaking process, if necessary.
Buying vs Renting
Drain augers are available for rental at home improvement centers and tool rental outlets, but the tools are so inexpensive that it makes more sense to buy one. A couple of rental fees will nearly pay for the tool.
Keeping a Toilet Auger
After each use, rinse, wipe the auger cable dry (it may rust otherwise) and store it away. Occasionally wiping the cable with a cloth moistened with light machine oil will also keep it from rusting.
When to Replace Your Toilet Auger
A toilet auger will last for decades with correct use and care, but if the rubber sleeve becomes cracked or broken or the cable becomes so rusted that it no longer feeds smoothly through the sleeve, then it’s time to replace the tool.
Parts of a Toilet Auger
A toilet auger is a straightforward hand tool consisting of a metal cable with a rotating handle on one end, a long tube with a smooth angle on the bottom through which the cable fits, and a rubber sleeve that prevents the metal tube from scratching the porcelain toilet bowl.
Any drain tool can pick up bacteria from drain pipes, which is especially true of any tool used in a toilet drain. Make sure to wear gloves when using a toilet auger, and rinse off the tool when you are finished using it.
For a Smooth Flushing Experience…
While the toilet auger works wonders in dismantling toilet clogs, the best way to handle clogs is to prevent them. The simplest way is to invest in a toilet wastebasket where you can discard items that are not meant to be flushed. The most common culprits for causing toilet clogs are wet wipes, tissue papers, kitchen towels, condoms, tampons, and other items.