What to do if your Snake Breaks in the drain

So you have a clog that you are trying to unblock. No problem! Only issue is that the plunger didn’t work, your next idea? To get your hands on a plumber’s snake. The plumber’s snake is a tool that slides down your pipes, latches onto the block and then, you pull out and dispose of the blockage. The only issue with you attaining a plumbing snake is the lack of training. So now you’re here, you bought a snake and it broke in your pipe. While DIY projects can be a great way to save money, plumbing is not the area to experiment. Here are a few ways to retrieve the broken end.

When do snakes break?

Let’s talk about snakes. No not the slithery snakes, drain snakes. Snakes are a tool that is used by plumbers to unclog blocks in sewage lines. These snakes can break but rarely do, they are made from very strong material designed to be pushed to limits. They would have to be in order to unblock extreme clogs. Snakes will break though for the following reasons:

Blockage is too much for a snake to handle

Yes snakes are for unblocking even extreme amounts of debris, but there is such a thing as too much. While any experienced plumber can easily tell if a blockage is too much for a snake, a DIY expert won’t be able to tell with the same kind of accuracy. If a snake is pushed to the limit, like anything else, it will break. Snakes aren’t for everything, consult a plumber for the best option for you.

It gets caught

Snakes can snag onto debris and get stuck in your pipes, you may pull just a bit too hard in the wrong position and snap, the snake breaks. Once again another reason to call a plumber.

Inappropriate usage

Drain snakes are delicate tools that have to be used in a very specific way, if you try and improvise, you risk damage.

Retrieving the broken snake

1) Drain retrieval tip
Lets begin with the least invasive method of retrieving. You will need safety goggles and gloves for this method. Option number one involves retrieving the broken snake with yet another snake. The second snake looks like an expanded corkscrew. These corkscrew looking snakes are designed specifically to retrieve another broken snake. You will have to go to a local home improvement store to rent or purchase this equipment.
2) Excavate
Option two Is more invasive and extreme than the first option. Option two is pipe excavation. Yes excavation as in taking pipes out of the ground to replace them. One of the dangers that accompanies DIY snaking is damaging pipes beyond repair. Many clogs that break snakes require excavation anyways. Excavation is not recommended to beginners and should only be attempted by professionals. If your snake broke due to inexperience, excavation is especially not recommended. The pipe will be dug up and the portion containing the snake removed and repaired, a big task for anyone let alone one who isn’t a plumber.
3) Call professional
Call a plumber is the third (but should have been your first option), plumbers are trained and have years of experience. If the above methods are too much, or they don’t work, you need to call a professional before you cause even more damage and end up costing yourself more time and money. Most plumbers can fix the botched job in a day and it won’t leave you with additional issues. For the future, plumbing is always something that plumbers should handle before you..


Everyone loves a DIY project, maybe it’s a shelf around the house or an art piece and it’s great! Some projects need to be left to professionals though. No only can you break your snake in the drain, you can also damage your plumbing further with inappropriate usage. Leave the plumbing to the plumbers, and instead focus on clog prevention.