Drain rods are plumbing tools that can be used to clear a blockage from a drain. They consist of a set of flexible rods that can be screwed together to create a single long rod of the desired width. Plumbers typically carry them, and people can also buy them at hardware and home supply stores. They can be a useful tool to keep around the house and may save the expense of a plumber's visit by allowing people to remove basic clogs from their plumbing.
Sprung steel and a variety of other materials can be used in drain rod construction. They are stiff enough to provide the user with some rigidity while probing in the pipe, to avoid situations where the rods bunch together and fail to hit the obstruction, while also being flexible enough to allow the user to curve and twist them without snapping. They typically come with attachments like plungers and screws that can be attached to the end rod to address the blockage, and may attach to an auger for those who want to use one.
Rodding a drain requires exposing the area of interest, fitting rods together, and poking them into the drain to determine the depth of the blockage. It may be necessary to add or subtract drain rods to get to the desired length. The rods can be twisted in the drain to free material from the sides and push the clog with the goal of either forcing it through, or skewering it so it can be pulled out. It is important to move the rods in a clockwise motion to maintain tension on the screws.
Drain rods can be used at sewer clean outs, shower drains, and a variety of other locations. After use, it is a good idea to clean them and to apply a mild bleach solution if they have been near sewage. They should be dried completely before being packed up for storage, to prevent rust and other problems like mildew. Many drain rods come with straps or bags that can be used to bundle them together so they will be readily accessible when needed.
If using drain rods does not resolve a problem, snaking the drain with a flexible cable may help. Snakes are often available for rental, for people who do not want to buy one for intermittent plumbing problems. When these measures fail, it may be necessary to call a plumber to evaluate the problem.