Apr 142012

Augers have been around for a long time.  In fact history buffs will know that they were first invented by Archimedes around 200 BC.  In the plumbing field they are used to clear pipe clogs and consist of a flexible cable with a wire coiled bit that “hooks” onto the clog in order to dislodge it.

The most common type of auger is a drain auger.  Here the flexible cable is coiled around a circular drum.  A handle on the drum is turned to extend and retract the cable through the plumbing pipes.  The cable can be very long indeed, even 60 feet or more.

Although they are highly effective pieces of equipment that work well on skin clogs, they are not ideal for clearing toilet clogs. To begin with the toilet trap-way in most toilets is less than 6 feet in length, so a much shorter cable is needed.  Second when using a drain auger on a toilet you run the risk of damaging the porcelain of the bowl.

Ridgid 59787 K-3 3-foot Toilet Auger with bulb head
That’s why specialized toilet augers shaped more like a J were designed.  The top of the J has a handle and the bottom of the J is placed at the entrance to the toilet trap-way, perfectly positioned to feed the wire bit into the drain.  This part of the auger has a protective rubber sleeve to avoid scratching the inside of the toilet bowl.  When the handle is turned, the flexible cable extends into the trap way – a process referred to as “snaking a toilet.”

Some plumbers believe that the goal is to “hook” onto the clog and pull it back into the toilet bowl for removal.  Other plumbers suggest using the auger to drive the clog out into the main drain.  In practice both methods will work equally well.

Toilet augers are perfect for stubborn toilet clogs – ones that can’t be dislodged by using a plunger.  And although drain augers work on the same principle, don’t use them on your toilet.

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