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How to Use a Drain Rod

Updated July 20, 2017

Drain rods are a series of rigid, yet flexible, rods that screw together end-to-end to help clear blockages in sewer pipes and storm drains. They are usually constructed out of polypropylene and are individually around 3 feet in length. The rods come in groups of anywhere from 4 to 20 rods per set. Most sets also include attachments that can screw on the ends, such as a double worn screw and plunger that can be used to help dislodge and alleviate clogged pipes and drains.

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  1. Access the problem area. If the problem is in a sewer, use a manhole key to open the manhole cover. If it is a clogged drain, locate it if it is underwater. You may need to probe blindly in the water with the drain rods until you find the problem area.

  2. Screw two of the drain rods together. Add the screw or plunger attachment, if needed, depending on the problem. The screw will help dislodge the blockage, while the plunger can provide suction to possibly loosen up the blockage.

  3. Probe the blocked area with the drain rods with a steady in-and-out motion until you can force your way through the blockage. To ensure that rods stay screwed together, use a slight clockwise motion. Add more rods as needed to reach the blockage.

  4. Remove the drain rods when the blockage is cleared. Disassemble the rods and thoroughly clean and disinfect them. Allow the pieces to dry before putting them away. Replace the manhole cover, if needed.

  5. Warning

    If the blockage is in a pipe with sharp bends, you may need to use a pipe snake or a different, more flexible piece of equipment.

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Things You'll Need

  • Drain rod attachments (double worn screw & plunger)
  • Gloves
  • Chemical disinfectant
  • Protective goggles, boots and clothing (optional)
  • Manhole key (optional)

About the Author

Based in New York, Noah Sharp has been writing about film and pop-culture since 2002. His articles have appeared in "Reelin'" magazine, as well as the website Everything's Fantastic. Sharp received a Bachelor of Science in film from Ithaca College, with minors in writing and art history.

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