When our panel gathered to assess the Pro Tool Innovation Awards, some of us were taken aback to discover that there were separate categories for drain snakes and drain augers. Is there really a disparity between the two? Aren’t they essentially the same thing? Actually, no, they are not.
Fortunately, we have experts like our resident plumber Scott Strollo who can help shed light on this matter.
Table of Contents
- Drain Auger vs Drain Snake – Defining the Terms
- How Drain Auger and Snake Work
- Professionals Define These Terms Differently than Merriam Webster
- What about Larger Pipes?
- Other Differences Between Drain Snakes and Drain Augers
Drain Auger vs Drain Snake – Defining the Terms
Let us examine the dictionary definitions of these two tools, beginning with the drain auger:
Trap and Drain Auger: A Plumber’s Snake for Clearing Traps and Drains
Now, let’s explore the closest definition to the drain snake:
Plumber’s snake: a long flexible rod or wire, typically made of steel, utilized for unclogging obstructed pipes
I don’t know about you, but I have always been advised not to employ the term being defined in the definition itself. In this case, the drainpipe (plumber’s) snake falls under the definition of a trap and drain auger.
How Drain Auger and Snake Work
Functionally, drain augers and drain snakes operate in the same manner. On certain large machines, the drum can accommodate anywhere from a few tens of feet to over 100 feet of cable.
You insert the cable into the drainage system and employ a twisting motion to dislodge or retrieve the obstructions.
These tools can be manually operated, powered by electricity, or cordless. For many homeowners, the cost of owning and operating a drain snake is significantly lower than the expense of calling a plumber. Even a powered model like the Ryobi Hybrid Drain Auger is less expensive than a service call. The tool pays for itself after the initial successful use.
Professionals Define These Terms Differently than Merriam Webster
When dictionaries fail us, we seek the guidance of those in the know. With over 15 years of experience as a plumber, Scott informed us that drain augers and drain snakes differ in terms of the drains they are intended for. Plumbers consider drain snake tools suitable for smaller drains, such as those in kitchens or bathrooms. Drain snakes are designed to handle pipes ranging in diameter from 1-1/4 inches to 2 inches.
In contrast, drain augers are designed for larger pipes, such as those found in toilets or showers. A drain auger can be used for lines ranging from 1-1/2 inches to 3 inches.
What about Larger Pipes?
We purposely omitted the mention of 4″ or larger pipes, and for good reason. These pipes typically do not get clogged. If they do experience a blockage, it usually stems from their roots growing into an outdoor sewage pipe. In such cases, the pipes may need replacement or the application of tools like mechanical augers or hydro jets to remove the obstruction.
Remember, whether you choose to employ a drain auger or a drain snake, it is crucial to properly maintain these tools. Check out our article on Drum Auger Cable Maintenance Tips for advice from the experts.
Other Differences Between Drain Snakes and Drain Augers
It goes without saying that drain snakes generally employ cables with smaller diameters than drain augers. Since both tools function by twisting the attached tip, a drain auger requires a stronger cable to facilitate the twisting motion necessary to tackle stubborn clogs.
The appearance of the cable tip is not significantly different between these two drain cleaning tools, but the auger tip may be slightly larger to enable it to screw through clogs that take up more space.
Do you agree or disagree? Let us know in the comments section below!