Sinks are an important part of our daily lives. From brushing your teeth to doing the dishes to washing your hands, you probably spend more time at the sink than you realize. However, if your sink is clogged, the time you have to spend there can become unpleasant very quickly. Here are 6 ways to unclog your sink so it can go back to being a pleasantly unremarkable part of your day. 

What Is Causing the Sink to Clog?

When dealing with a clogged sink, it helps to first understand how your sink works. Both kitchen and bathroom sinks are very similar; the only difference is that kitchen sinks are often connected to the garbage disposal and the dishwasher if you have those appliances.

Most sinks have a sink trap, also known as a P-trap. The P-trap is the curved portion of pipe under the sink. It is designed to prevent sewer gasses from getting into the kitchen or bathroom. This is accomplished by holding water inside of the curve of the P-Trap, which creates a seal.

When your sink isn’t draining, it could be for a variety of different reasons. For bathroom sinks, hair or a build-up of soap or toothpaste scum is the most common. For kitchen sinks, a buildup of food or other debris is the leading issue.

1. The Boiling Water Technique

Whether it is hair, grease, soap scum, or food debris that is clogging up your drain, boiling water is the first place to start because it’s a simple fix that only takes a few short minutes. To use this technique, start by:

  1. bringing a half gallon of water to a boil on your stove.
  2. Once the water is boiling, carefully take it from the stove and slowly pour it into the drain.
  3. Next, turn the faucet on and see if the water drains. If it is still draining slowly or the drain still isn’t moving, repeat the process. 

As an important note, make sure you know what kind of pipes you have before using this method. PVC pipes can get damaged from boiling water, so do not use this method if you have these.

2. Check the Garbage Disposal (Kitchen Sink only)

A garbage disposal underneath a sink.

For sinks that have a garbage disposal, this could be the source of your drainage issues. Typically, turning the garbage disposal on will break up the blockage and allow the water to drain. However, if you turn on your disposal and it gives off a low humming sound, this is generally a sign that the blades are jammed or broken. No matter what, though, NEVER stick your hand inside of the garbage disposal. The blades are too dangerous to put your hands near. Consequently, always make sure to disconnect the garbage disposal before working with it.

Once you have disconnected the garbage disposal, you can turn the blades manually by inserting an Allen Wrench into the hole on the bottom of the disposal and twisting it until you feel less resistance. After the clog is removed, test the drain rate by running water down the sink and turning the garbage disposal back on. If everything sounds good, and the water is draining, the clog has been safely removed.

While this will usually resolve the issue, garbage disposals also run the risk of overheating or developing other issues that cause it to malfunction. You can always hit the reset switch to see if it will fix the issue. If this doesn’t work, you will want to call your trusted team of plumbing experts

3. The Plunger Technique

If you have established that the garbage disposal isn’t the issue or you are still dealing with a clog in your bathroom sink, then it is time for the plunger technique. For this, you will want to get your toilet plunger or, preferably, a flat-bottomed plunger.

  1. The first step is to fill the sink with hot water until it’s about halfway full. This will create a seal around the drain.
  2. Next, position the plunger over the drain and begin pumping quickly. Several pumps should do the trick.
  3. Finally, remove the plunger and wait to see if the water drains. If it doesn’t, try repeating the process a couple more times.

4. Baking Soda and Vinegar

Baking soda and vinegar are a natural and safer alternative to using drain cleaners. They are also common household items that many families already keep around. This technique involves;

  1. First removing the standing water from the sink with a cup and putting it into a bowl or bucket. 
  2. Next, pour one cup of baking soda down the drain. You may have to use a spatula or spoon to push the powder into the drain.
  3. Follow this by pouring one cup of white vinegar into the drain opening then place a stopper or cover on the drain to seal the opening.
  4. Wait for 15 minutes, remove the cover, and run hot tap water down the drain. Alternatively, boiling water can be used to break up more intense clogs.

5. A Plumber’s Snake

Some clogs will put up a fight, but a plumber’s snake might be able to combat the clog. Not to worry, no actual reptiles are involved in this process. A plumber’s snake is a coiled spiral snake that can reach deep down into the drain, latch onto the obstruction, and help get it dislodged. Once you have removed the clog, run hot water down the drain to see if it drains correctly. If it is still slow, you likely still have some obstruction inside of the drain and can simply repeat the snaking process to remove the remnants of the clog.

6. Cleaning the P-Trap

plumber smiling while working on a sink

If the water in your sink is still not draining properly, it could be an issue with the P-trap, the curved shape pipe under your sink. To fix this issue, you will want to disassemble the pipe to clean out the blockage. This task does get quite messy, so make sure you have gloves, goggles, towels, and a bucket or bowl to catch the debris and water.

First, take your bucket and place it underneath the pipe. This is to catch the backed up water and any debris that may fall out. Secondly, unscrew the connectors on the trap that hold the drain pipe in place; there should be a slip nut on either end of the P-trap. After disconnecting, remove the P-trap and clean the pipe of all debris, grime, and residue. Finally, reconnect the p-trap and turn on the faucet to run water down the drain.

Still Facing a Stubborn Clog?

If you’re at the end of your rope and nothing you do can dislodge that stubborn clog, it may be time to call in the professionals. Our team of experts at Bewley Plumbing has the experience and skills to satisfy all your plumbing needs, whether it’s a clogged sink or something else entirely. To schedule an appointment or consultation, contact us today!