It's not unusual to find your sink drains clogged. In large households, especially, dozens of different types of food scrap likely find their way there. When you get enough of a mess down the pipes, it can get stopped up. Your water drains slow and your sink puddles up. Even worse, the whole drain can get stuck, letting no objects through and leaving you with nothing but a flood of dirty water floating on the sink.
A fast, clean and relatively mess-free solution is to use a chemical drain unclogging preparation. You can get them from hardware stores, home centers and supermarkets. Popular ones come in both liquid and solid forms, under various brands.
Make sure to clear all water off the sink before using one of these products. When no flood or puddles remain, leave the drain to dry. Pour the chemical down the drain when the sink is completely free from wetness. Follow directions as indicated on the packaging for the length of time you should allow the chemical to work, dissolving scrap food and grease so they can break up and flow through unimpeded.
Using a chemical agent is a great way to relieve your sink drain of minor clogs. Itís also advisable to pour it down your drain once-a-month for regular preventive maintenance.
If your drain doesnít respond to a regular chemical treatment, youíll have no choice but to play ìplumber-for-a-dayî and take one of three more hands-on approaches.
1. Using a plunger
A plunger should be able to clear clogs that youíre unable to dissolve with a chemical agent. A common household plunger uses suctions to push and pull the blockage, eventually dislodging it and clearing the drainpipes.
When using the drain, make sure to:
* Remove the stopper to provide you a wider opening to pump air in and out.
* Wash down any chemical residue with both tap and warm water. Warm water also helps loosen the clog.
* Fill the sink with tap water, enough to cover the rubber portion of the plunger.
* Push down and pull up vigorously until the water flows right down the drain.
If the clog doesnít respond within an hour or more, the blockage is probably either too hard, too thick, or too far down the pipes. You might want to attempt an alternative solution.
2. Removing the trap
The trap is a U-shaped pipe under the sink, where the sink water flows in its way to the sewage system. If your drain is clogged, the blockage is likely somewhere along its length. You will need to manually remove and clean the trap before putting it back in to clear the sink drain.
When removing the trap, make sure to put a water bucket underneath to catch any water and debris remaining while youíre taking it apart. You will need a good wrench or slip-joint pliers to loosen the slip nuts. Once undone, you can take the pipe apart by hand.
Clean the pipe thoroughly, scraping out any blockage. Try to pass water thru from one end to another to be certain that itís cleared. Once youíre done, reassemble the drain. Make sure to test if the nuts are tight enough by letting water flow through the sink. If there are leaks around either end of the trap, try to tighten them by hand or make half-a-turn using your wrench.
3. Using a drain auger
Your last line of offense against sink drain blockage is a drain auger, also referred to as a snake, a long, coiled rod a quarter of an inch thick. It has a handle on one end which you can use to push through the drain. Once you reach the clog, the auger should be able to break it apart allowing it to sink further into the pipe. If it doesnít break up, you should keep rotating the snake until the tip attaches itself to the blockage, allowing you to pull it out.
Drain augers can be either manual or machine-powered and should available for rental at some home centers and DIY shops.
Clearing Sink Drains
You will likely never need to get professional help to clear most sink drain problems. Fixing them up is quite straightforward and needs no specialized skill to perform. With regular maintenance of a milder chemical solution, blockages will likely occur even less.