You can simply unclog your blocked kitchen sink using simple tools. You’ll only need a plumber’s snake and a plunger to get the job done. These two tools can clear most drain clogs.
Here are the steps to follow when unclogging a blocked sink:
Have the Required Tools Ready
In case your sink or garbage disposal is clogged, then it’ll be challenging to do most kitchen activities. Rather than doing something constructive, you’ll struggle thinking about what to do about the sink.
Even worse, blocked sinks can be quite embarrassing when you have guests around. You might consider calling a plumber and that will surely cost you money.
However, you can simply do it yourself and unclog your sink or garbage disposal using two affordable and easy to use tools. It’ll only take you some minutes to get your sink draining water again smoothly.
It’ll help to have the right tools when unclogging your sink to avoid frustration and save time. You’ll need tools such as:
- Pipe wrench
- Allen wrench
- Plumber’s snake (buy or rent a plumber’s snake)
You’ll also need these materials for the DIY drain unclogging project:
- White vinegar
- Baking soda
You’ll need to get a good drain snake from your local hardware store or home center. It’s also known as a plumber’s snake or hand auger. It’s inexpensive and comes in different sizes, turning mechanism, and length.
A recommended size for most applications is the one measuring 3/8 inches by 20 feet. Such a plumber’s snake will easily turn in a drain. A ¼ inch drain snake also works for most kinds of clogs.
While preparing to unclog your sink, keep a bucket handy to catch any spilling water. It’ll also help to have a powerful flashlight and rubber gloves.
Use a Plunger to Clear the Clog
You’ll need to check the garbage disposer before using a plunger. Clogged drains are often as a result of a blocked disposer. In case the sink disposer is not draining, first plunge it to force the clog down the drainage or pull it out.
In case you turn on the disposer by flipping its switch and you only hear humming sounds, then your disposer may be jammed. Turn it off from the socket and unplug it.
Try to free the disposer by turning its blades manually using the Allen wrench. Put the wrench through the hole at the bottom part of your disposer.
In case it won’t make a sound when turning it on, then its internal motor breaker may have tripped. Simply give it a minute or so to cool. Next, press its reset button found at the bottom. Then switch it on.
In case there’s a dishwasher, you should attach a clamp on the flexible section of the drainage line before you plunge it. Doing so will prevent dirty water in the drain from flowing backward into your dishwasher cabinet.
In case the problem is not originating from the disposer, then you should plunged the sink drain. In case there’s a dishwasher, first clamp its drain hose.
Once done, fill your sink with water up to 3-4 inches. The water will ensure the plunger gets a tight seal around the opening of the drain.
If your sink has double drain openings, use a wet piece of rag to close it by pressing the rag over the opening. Alternatively, seal it using a basket strainer.
Plunging the Drain
If your sink has two drains, you’ll need to place a wet rag over one of the drain openings. Doing so will seal it tightly. Then plunge from the other opening. You should plunge the drain vigorously for around 20 seconds or so.
Then roll the plunger inside the water. Doing so will force water through the drain rather than air. Pump vigorously.
When plunging on the last upstroke, try to pop off the plunger for more pressure. In case the water fails to swirl through the drain, then continue plunging until it swirls smoothly.
Plunging can create a mess around the sink especially when doing the last upstroke. Thus, keep some towels or rags around to soak any water that may spill.
As a cautionary measure, avoid snaking or plunging the drain if you just poured a drain cleaner down your sink.
Drain cleaners may burn your skin if they come into contact with your skin as water splashes when plunging or snaking. Only use a drain cleaner when your skin is draining relatively slow and not when it’s totally clogged.
Cleaning the Drain P-Trap
In case intensive plunging fails to unclog the trap, then you’ll need to disassemble the drain P-trap and clean it. This will take around 10-15 minutes.
Disassembling the Drain Trap
Start by sponging any water that may be left in the sink. Doing so will reduce water flow below the sink as you detach the drain trap.
Keep a bucket under the trap to catch any dirty water that’ll flow out. Next, unfasten the nut holding the drain trap arm in place. Then detach the trap.
Most modern drain lines are made of plastic, but older ones have metallic pipes and traps. It may be more challenging to loosen metallic slip nuts than plastic ones.
However, both types may require using a slip-joint type of pliers to loosen them. Loosen the nuts gently so as to avoid bending or cracking the trap.
Cleaning the Trap
First, loosen the nut sitting between the drain trap arm and P-trap. Then loosen the nut around the bottom part of the tee. Next, clean any debris that might be stuck in the trap.
Inspect the drain trap arm and P-trap for weak walls or cracks. In case it’s worn out, replace it with a new unit to avoid any further problems.
Once done cleaning, reinstall the drain P-trap. Then test whether the sink is draining smoothly by pouring some warm water.
Avoid over-tightening the nuts. Simply hand tighten the nuts and then tighten them further with a pair of pliers quarter way.
Removing the Drain Trap Arm
In case the drain P-trap is not clogged, then you should remove the drain trap arm for cleaning. First, unfasten the nut holding the arm in place. Then slide it off.
You might need the help of a pair of pliers to unfasten the nut. Once done, use a screwdriver to remove any debris and clogs that may be stuck inside. In case you’re yet to find the clog, then you’ll need the help of a plumber’s snake.
Snaking a Drain Line
It’s quite simple to snake a drain pipe. Start with unfastening the setscrew located at the top of the plumber’s snake. Then pull out around 6-10 inches of cable.
Next, fasten the setscrew. Then spin the plumber’s snake through the drain. You might at first feel some obstruction.
Once you feel some obstruction, loosen the drain snake setscrew and pull the cable further up to 6-10 inches extra. Then continue pushing the plumber’s snake through the drain.
Inserting the Plumber’s Snake
Once you have pushed the snake through the drain, thread its tip into the stub-out. Next, tighten the snake’s setscrew. Then tighten the crank in a clockwise direction such that it will be fed into the drainage pipe.
Turning the Plumber’s Snake through a Clog
Turn the plumber’s snake whenever you feel some resistance. The tip of a plumber’s snake is usually designed to screw through clogs. It’s also designed to move easily around corners.
Retracting the Plumber’s Snake
In case you feel some obstruction, continue pushing and cranking the cable until you sense that the snake’s tip has bitten through the stubborn clog.
You can notice when it bites through the stubborn clog upon feeling lessened cable tension. Next, clean the snake’s cable while pulling it off the drain.
It might be extremely covered with dirty gunk. Keep a bucket handy since you may pull a large clog from the plumber’s snake.
Repeat the entire process until the drain is free of blockage. Once done, reassemble everything. The pour some warm water down the drain to flush any remaining blockage.
Once the drain line opens, pour ½ a cup of white vinegar and another ½ a cup of baking soda down the drain. Then cover both drain openings and allow the baking soda and white vinegar mixture to settle for some minutes.
Next, run warm water, at least a gallon, down the drain to flush the mixture. A mixture of vinegar and baking soda will break down fat deposit leftovers and give your drain a fresh smell. Run water down the drain to test it.
The clog may be extremely deep within the drainage line or there are objects stuck in the drainage pipe. Nevertheless, you can reduce the chances of getting most types of clogs by using your kitchen sink properly.
Avoid overloading your garbage disposal with meat and foods that are rich in starch such as rice, potatoes and pasta, and foods that are rich in fiber such as corn husks and celery.
Also, avoid running cold water in large volumes into the drain line. Also, put waste food into the disposer little by little.
Avoid dumping coffee grounds or bacon grease into your drain. They solidify within the drain after settling and cooling, thereby clogging it.