Unclogging a Stubborn Sink

February 19, 2019 by JulietAyer

Picture this: it’s Christmas eve, the guests are coming over soon, and you’ve just clogged your sink. Seeing that the kitchen sink won’t drain can be quite the helpless feeling. As water starts backing up and the counter full of dishes remains uncleaned, you may get the strong urge to just pick up your phone and call a plumber. But this may be unnecessary. Before calling a plumber and wasting valuable time and money, try these easy, DIY ways to unclog your drain.

How to Unclog a Sink

1. Boil Water
This solution is the easiest and least expensive, which means that you should try it first. Simply place a pot of water on your stove to boil, and while you’re waiting remove as much of the standing water from your sink as possible using a small container. Next, pour the whole pot of water into the sink. If this doesn’t work, try giving the water some time to cool and then remove it to try again. This process may need to be repeated several times, but it works for many types of clogs.

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2. Disposal
Make sure that your garbage disposal isn’t the thing that is causing the problem. A clogged garbage disposal can stop the water from draining. Run the disposal to see if it fixes the clog. Inspect it to ensure that it is running correctly. If it seems like the disposal has overheated, you many need to flip the switch found underneath the sink.

3. Salt and boiling water
After removing all the standing water from the sink, try pouring around a half cup of salt down the drain before pouring in the boiling water. Let this mixture sit for a few minutes, and then flush out the hot water.

4. Baking soda and vinegar
First remove the standing water (again). Take around a cup of baking soda and pour it into the drain. Following this, pour in an equal amount of vinegar. After the solution stops bubbling, put in the stopper and wait about a quarter hour. Then run the hot water to see if the clog has cleared. Repeat these steps if needed.

5. Baking soda and salt
Take a half-cup of salt and mix it with a cup of baking soda. Pour this mixture down the drain. Let this mixture sit for a few hours, then flush it out with boiling water. If this process doesn’t work the first time, you can repeat this process as needed.

6. Using a plunger
If none of these mixtures and solutions are successful in unclogging your sink, you may need to do something a bit more physical. If you’re unclogging a double sink, first seal off the other side with a stopper or wet cloth. Next, fill the clogged side with enough water to cover the head of the plunger. This will create a tight seal around the device. Then place the plunger firmly over the clogged drain and vigorously plunge. Do this several times. If this is successful in clearing the clog, you will hear an audible unclogging noise. If this occurs, remove the plunger and flush out the drain with warm water.

7. Clean the P-trap
To remove the clog, it may be necessary to clean out the P-trap in your kitchen’s drain. The P-trap is located at the curve of the pipe underneath the sink, usually found in a cabinet. Take a bucket or other container and place it underneath the drain to catch any water or debris that may come out. Unfasten the P-trap from the pipe and take out any debris that is is clogging it. Replace it, and run water through to clear out any remaining debris.

8. Plumber’s snake
A plumber’s snake (sometimes called an auger) is a useful tool that can clear clogs that might be stuck deeper in the system. First disassemble the drainpipe and P-trap that are underneath the kitchen sink. This will expose the “stub pipe”, also known as the “stub out”, which travels behind the cabinet wall. Next, insert the snake into the pipe until you feel resistance. Then break up the clog.

9. Coat hanger
Say you don’t own a plumber’s snake. A simple household item such as a wire coat hanger can do the job just as well. Begin by straightening out the hanger. Though it won’t reach as far as the plumber’s snake, it might be long enough to reach some of the clogs. Insert the hanger into the drain or stub pipe, and if you can reach the clog, use it to push or pull out the stuck debris. Make sure not to scratch up the sink with the hanger.

To ensure that the sink is kept smelling fresh and running clear, pour in a solution that is equal parts vinegar and baking soda. Do this on a regular basis. For normal routine cleaning, you only need to pour in about a half-cup of each substance. Let this mixture sit in the sink for a few minutes and then run some warm water down the drain. Lemon juice can also be used to keep the sink clean and fresh-smelling.

Cleaning a clog is a chore, and it’s always easier to simply avoid clogs in the first place. Make sure not to overload your garbage disposal, if you have one. When feeding in items, put in a little at a time and wait for the items to grind and go through completely before adding in more. Some items, like bacon grease, oils, or coffee grounds, should never be put down the kitchen drain, as they can cause substantial damage. Additionally, always make sure you run a fair amount of water down the drain after each time you use it. Maintaining and caring for your home’s plumbing is important if you want to keep things running smoothly, and keeping your sink functional is just one aspect of that.