Standing or slowly draining water may indicate that you have a clogged sink. Not only is a clogged drain annoying and often disgusting, it can also be harmful to your plumbing, eventually causing damage. As soon as you notice that your sink is clogged, take action to clear the blockage and get your water running smoothly again.
First Response to a Clogged Sink
There are some simple things to try when you discover that you have a clogged sink. Whether it’s in the bathroom or kitchen, try running very hot water down the drain. As long as your piping isn’t plastic, boil the water and immediately pour it slowly down the drain. Sometimes just a kick of hot water is enough to clear out whatever is blocking the way.
If it’s your kitchen sink, make sure that the garbage disposal isn’t full. Run some warm water and flip on the garbage disposal. It may seem like a simple solution, but it is a very common and worthwhile solution that’s worth a try.
Another simple first line solution is salt. Make sure that any standing water is emptied from the sink, then pour about a half cup of table salt down the drain, followed by at least four times as much boiling hot water. Let that sit for a few minutes and then run the hot water to clear it out. The heat mixed with the texture of the salt may be able to loosen up the clog.
Chemicals to Fix a Clogged Sink
If the simple solutions didn’t work and the drain is still totally clogged or emptying slowly, it may be time to get science involved. There are several products on the market that can help break up stubborn clogs that aren’t too expensive. Draino, Insta-Flo, and Liquid-Plumr are just a few brands that are available online and at most major retailers.
You don’t necessarily have to buy a special product, though, to get the chemical reaction needed to clear out a clogged sink. There are quite a few simple DIY methods that will get the gunk going from your drains.
Everyday household items like vinegar, baking soda, and lemon juice are all you need if your sink is clogged. Combining the right household products in the drain will cause a foaming reaction that may break up the blockage and clean out your pipes.
The most classic recipe for fixing a clogged sink is one half cup of white vinegar and one half cup of baking soda. No mixing necessary, simply pour both agents down the sink and let them sit, undisturbed and covered, for at least half an hour.
If you don’t have baking soda, or would like a fresher smell, try lemon juice instead. Double the amount of vinegar to a cup and add a cup of lemon juice. Again, let the mixture sit for at least half an hour. These two products should react and form a foam that will break up the clog. After half an hour, rinse the drain with hot water and let everything ease away.
Tools to Fix a Clogged Sink
If using a liquid agent or household products still doesn’t work, you may need to step up your game and add some additional tools. A clogged sink may have something wedged in so tightly or made of such a material that won’t be easily affected by vinegar and baking soda. The first step is to plunge. Using a smaller, sink-sized plunger, cover the entire drain with the seal of the plunger to create a seal. Push up and down vigorously to force pressure into the drain. Unlike the chemical agents, this actually works best when there is water in the sink. The additional pressure from the water may help to clear the drain.
If plunging isn’t working, it’s time to snake. A drain snake, or zip-type clog remover, is a long, metal cable with a spring at the end. You can either snake it in from the sink drain or from an access point under the sink if the clog is that far down. You feed the line through the drain until it comes to the blockage and stops. From there, you twist the cord so that the spring end embeds itself into the clog. Then you pull it back and the clog should come with it. For the DIY method, a metal coat hanger can also be an efficient drain snake.
Plumbing Repairs for a Clogged Sink
If none of the methods above work, you’ll have to get your hands a little dirty and clean out the P-trap. The P-trap is the curved pipe under the sink. Drain all the water in the sink and make sure you have a bin underneath before you disconnect any piping. Dirty water will definitely pour out. Clogs are common in this tight area and can sometimes only be cleaned out directly. If problems still persist, don’t hesitate to call a plumber. Repairs can sometimes be more extensive than the average homeowner can handle on their own. It’s always best to have a professional check it out if you’re unsure of the problem.
A clogged sink is a common household problem, but as such, it can usually be fixed with common household products and methods. Don’t let a slow drain or standing water intimidate you. Try out these methods to run your tap with confidence.