What tools you'll need
The specialized plumbing tools used to combat clogs are affordable, and they're available at any hardware store or home center; you can even rent some. The first tool to reach for when trouble arises is a plunger ($5 to $10). This plumber's friend clears clogs from most fixtures, including sinks, tubs and toilets. Every homeowner should keep one handy. To dislodge clogs located farther down the drainpipe, use a cable auger, or plumber's snake, a long, flexible steel cable wound around a spool that's fitted with a hand crank. Cable augers are available in lengths up to 100 ft., though a 25-ft. model ($15 to $25) will suffice for most any household clog. A closet auger ($15 to $40) is specifically made for snaking out toilets. It, too, is equipped with a hand crank, but instead of a spool, the cable is encased in a rigid shaft. The auger end is bent at a precise angle to fit through the tight curves of a toilet trap. For a very large clog or one that's far from the fixture, rent an electric power auger ($15 to $30 per day). This machine—basically a large cable auger powered by an electric motor—is very effective at cutting through virtually any clog, even tangled tree roots. Before bringing home a power auger, be sure the rental agent shows you how to safely dispense and retrieve the cable.

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