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Stuck Drain Auger

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  • Stuck Drain Auger

    Was using a drum type drain auger through a cleanout in the side of my house. Got stuck about 25' in. Tried to reverse it out and kinked the cable. Now that I have created a big problem I need some help. Could I get a come-a-long and try to pull it out? Could I cut it and try to turn with a 1/2" drill? Help please!

  • #2
    Member Rated:
    posted 10-31-2005 01:01 PM

    Not that you need to hear this now but reversing the cable is usually the start of a disaster. Don't make it worst now buy hooking it up to a drill motor. The drill will spin the cable at a much higher rate of speed than the cable is designed for and get you in more trouble quickly.

    Depending on what the cable is stuck on the come-a-long may help. However, you still need to be careful. The cable is made up of a wire spring material which can store a lot of energy.

    "Somewhere a Village is Missing Twelve Idiots!" - Casey Anthony

    I never lost a cent on the jobs I didn't get!


    • #3
      chester, what size cable is it? is this a slab foundation or crawl space? where is the kink in relationship to the cleanout? what size cleanout were you trying to clean? are there cutters on the end of the cable?

      if you can go under the house, if push came to shove, then you have a final way out. chances are the cable is in too bad of shape to use the drum machine. a drill motor is ok, if you use a variable speed drill just to break it loose. don't continue to turn the cable once it's free. the smaller cables( 1/4- 3/8'') don't take much to kink. the 1/2'' - 3/4'' cables will stand up to a little more torque before they kink.
      i would only resort to a comealong if nothing else works. you stand a chance of ripping out a fitting.
      if the line is draining, try pouring in liquid soap to help lube the pipe.
      if you try the drill, make sure you cut off the cable to get out the kinked section. also don't over spin the cable in any one direction. try a little both ways while pulling back out. a small cable will twist real easy.
      if you can't get the cable out. don't try another snake until there is a real pro there to do it for you. i've seen 3 snakes in one line to attempt to get out.
      try these words of advise and also if needed answer the original questions. you're not the first person to get a snake stuck in a line.
      also is this a rental machine or do you have experience in drain cleaning? just curious.

      good luck,


      • #4

        Rick is the resident drain cleaning expert here. Following his advice is good advice.

        Utah made a point about stored energy in a cable that must not be taken lightly. Speaking from experience from an instance years ago where I was nearly killed while trying to use a come along to remove a "stuck" cable; When the cable broke under pressure from a small 2 1/2 ton come along it snapped back so fast that I did not have time to even blink. Within about a zillionth of a second a ten foot section of cable and the clevis on the end of the come along shot within about 2 inches of my head and broke a huge piece out of a floor joist and split the one behind it. Needless to say it would have split my skull like a rotten pumpkin. That cable may come free really easy or it may become a spring loaded cannon.

        My advice would be to avoid the come along or take plenty of saftey precautions if you decide to resort to it. What ever you do do not stand behind the cable and come along. You will not have time to move or even think about moving if that thing snaps back. And for Gods sake please don't have any spectators standing around.

        Now I was using a large sectional cable when this happened. If your drum was on a hand held drill and is not a large free standing drum type machine then the cable breaking might not be as disasterous, but it will still be dangerous.
        Work hard, Play hard, Sleep easy.


        • #5
          By the way I would treat the cable the same as I do a winch cable on one of my 4X4 trucks if using a come-a-long. You should lay some heavy blankets like moving blakets over the cable/come-a-long so if it gives the blanket will slow and divert it's flight downwards.

          And as plumber said, don't stand behind it for any reason.

          "Somewhere a Village is Missing Twelve Idiots!" - Casey Anthony

          I never lost a cent on the jobs I didn't get!


          • #6
            The snake I was using was a drum type with a 1/2" cable. This is my personal one. The pipe size is 1 1/2" Kink in the cable is just outside the drum about 1 foot from the cleanout. Unfortunatly this is a slab foundation house. I ran an arrow cutter through first with no problems. I then ran a gimlet hoping to open it up further. Bad plan! Drain pipe is cast iron.
            Yes I plan on being careful with a come-a-long. Years of safety traing at the office helps.


            • #7
              chester,if the cable is still able to be bent back to a decent straight form, i would try to reverse it out with your drum machine. is there an auto feed on the machine? if you can rock it foward and reverse you'll eventually break it loose.

              a 1/2'' cable is sort of on the large size for a 1.5'' line. is the pipe for a kitchen line or a bathroom sink? is the line plastic or cast iron? try pouring in liquid soap if the line still drains. it will help lube the cable and cutter.

              i would only try the come along if all else fails. you might damage the piping or c/o fitting.

              for your information. i was stuck for an hour today in a 4'' line with a 3/4'' cable and k-7500 machine. had a 2.5'' offset cutter in approx. 56'. little did i know that the ficus roots were as big as my thumb and eventually i pulled them out. a combination of cutters and patience allowed me to pull out a shopping bag of ficus roots.i then cleaned the line to the city main at 70'. 3.5 hours later. ficus trees are a real problem here in los angeles. they lift sidewalks and get into the clay pipe with ease. last time i snaked this line was on 1/28/04. next time will be every year with root treatment.

              good luck,


              • #8
                A 1/2" cable is far too large for a 1.5" line. It should have been cabled with a 3/8".

                To extract such a stck cable, the LAST thing you should try is putting the machine in reverse. But at risk of being redundant since this has already been mentioned I'll move on.

                There are several different types of cable puller ends (or "leaders") you can use and are made specifically for such problems. They resemble large "bulb-head" ends, with just basically a large coil-like cork-screw end on it that is supposed to snag the broken cable and pull it out. This is usually the method used on broken cables. Just another suggestion.