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Sewer Drain Snakes: Types of Snakes & Recommended Drain Snaking Equipment

Selecting the proper sewer snake size and type is very important -- a snake cable that is too small or too weak for the pipe or the obstruction will break or kink prematurely. A good drain cleaning snake must be used in the proper application, be flexible enough to execute bends in the pipe but be strong enough to develop sufficient torque to remove the drain clog.

Major types of sewer snakes & drain snakes:

  • Inner Core
  • No Core
  • Double Wound

Inner core cable, is heavier than other sewer snakes without the added material and takes a bit longer for torque to develop.

A double wound drain snake, such as Spartan’s Magnum cable, is the strongest and lightest type of sewer snake on the market today. It is intended for use in runs with fewer bends or turns.

No core drain snakes are used primarily on small residential pipes which can be difficult to navigate with heavier inner core cable.

The following chart is a guide to typical pipe sizes and the sizes of sewer drain snakes that are most appropriate for cleaning applications:

LAVATORY 1 -- 1-1/4" 1/4"
BATHTUB 1-1/2 -- 2" 1/4" OR 5/16"
SHOWERS 2" -- 3" 5/16", 3/8" OR 13/32"
FLOOR DRAIN 3" OR MORE 3/8", 13/32", 1/2", 5/8", 3/4" OR 0.55"
FLOOR DRAIN 4" -- 5" 1/2", 5/8", 3/4", 0.55" OR 0.66"
FLOOR DRAIN 6" -- 8" 5/8" (NON ROOTS), 3/4" OR 0.66"
FLOOR DRAIN 8" OR MORE 3/4" OR 0.66"

Loading a Sewer Snake into Your Machine

Spartan Tool SparShine sewer snake Safe operation of any cable machine begins with proper cable handling and loading. Spartan drain cleaning cables arrive at the customer’s location as a wound coil.

Due to the amount of initial tension wound into your cable, care must be taken when uncoiling the bundle of cable. The cable will spring apart after the wire ties, which secure the cable, are cut.

After uncoiling the cable and laying out flat, attach the male end of the cable to the female end of the 10’ anchor in the drum. With the machine plugged in, depress the foot actuator and check the rotation of the drum. The drum should rotate in a counter-clockwise direction, as you face the front of the machine. If the drum rotates in the wrong direction, reverse the toggle switch located on the motor support and check rotation again. With the drum rotating in the proper direction, start feeding the cable into the drum.

Caution: Always wear riveted cable gloves when handling a rotating cable. Feed the cable into the drum with the drum rotating. This insures proper distribution of cable inside the drum. Spartan Tool Cable Safety GlovesLeave about 2-3 feet of cable out of the machine to allow for attaching the next section of cable. After loading your desired length of cable, attach either a two foot leader cable or a double male coupling. You are now ready to attach the cutter blade assembly.

Lastly, there are numerous “ends” that are often attached to the end of the drain snake. These “ends” serve various purposes from holding a cutting blade to retriever hooks. The choice is up to the professional sewer and drain cleaning technician, depending upon the situation at hand.

Click here to see our full list of sewer snake ends and their applications.