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Plumbing rods vs snakes

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What are the differences in terms of what they are useful for between rods and a snake? I know how they differ in terms of what they look like so I mean what are they good at unblocking. Is the snake more for smaller, shorter internal pipes whereas rods are for outdoor drains?
Are they both easy enough to use without causing damage? I'm just after something to have as well as a plunger in case of blocked pipes and drains at home and wondering what to get. I would especially like something for periodically clearing out the pipe between the outside drain and the sewer as I think it accumulates muck over time. I have had it cleared by a plumber a couple of times but have been out both times and not seen what they used.


  • FreeBearFreeBear Forumite
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    Snakes for sinks and any small diameter pipes with bends in (say 32-50mm dia). Rods for flues & underground drainage without any sharp bends. Be careful with which way you rotate the rods when pushing/pulling them down a drain. If the rods are rotated anti-clockwise, they will unscrew from each other and/or the attachment on the end.
    Also avoid using a plunger disc with rods - I did once, and the darned thing came off some 4m in. Fortunately, had another man hole downstream where I could push the little [redacted] back out.
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  • Mutton_GeoffMutton_Geoff Forumite
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    After I paid Dynorod to clear a drain and saw them use a snake, I bought one as an attachment for my Karcher. Very handy things but pay attention to the red mark on the hose and don't pull it back out past the mark unless you want a face full of ****.
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  • edited 3 July at 12:51PM
    DocQuincyDocQuincy Forumite
    155 posts
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    edited 3 July at 12:51PM
    Thank you both.
    Any blockages I get in small pipes are the kind I can clear out with an unblocker liquid (e.g. hair from the shower tray) so am wondering if I need a snake. However, if Dynorod are using them…
    I did watch a video of someone using rods and they mentioned about never turning them anti-clockwise. So long as you never do that are they fairly foolproof/easy to use for someone like me with no experience in this area? My main worry would be getting it stuck in the drain and then having to pay a fortune to get it removed.
    This may be a silly question: there is a public sewer very close to our house that runs underneath our back road (shared by all on the terrace). Out of the house we have a soil pipe and then there is a drain with a p trap that services the drain pipe and water from sinks and show tray — they are about 75cm apart. I know you can't comment on my house based on this but in general would the connections between those and the sewer be straight? Or could it be they join and both go into the sewer with a single connection? I.e. do underground pipes like this ever have bends that wouldn't be right for rods? From what you've said if they're straight then rods are the way to go and if not, a snake.
    Maybe I should just get both but this is MSE so if I only need one then it's cheaper! :smile:

  • nofoollikeoldnofoollikeold Forumite
    289 posts
    Ninth Anniversary 100 Posts
    1. You can get drain rods (Bailey Lockfast) which won't come apart if turned in the wrong direction.
    2. Using a snake on large diameter pipework (over 2 inch diameter) requires a powered snake.  A decent one will cost you hundreds of pounds.
    3. Underground pipes SHOULDN'T have sharp bends, broadly speaking there should be rodding access at any sharp change of direction.  However, who knows what has been done to your drains over the years.
  • DocQuincyDocQuincy Forumite
    155 posts
    Fifth Anniversary 100 Posts Name Dropper
    That's great, thanks. I'll go for some rods then!
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