clogged sink in bathroom, sink with dirty water, brown soap. Plumbing problems.

Homeowners generally don’t give much thought to maintaining their sinks. That is, until the sinks begin to drain agonizingly slowly and basins fill with dirty water. Unfortunately, kitchen and bathroom sinks do get partially or fully obstructed at some point. 

Many backups originate from the trap, which is the U-shaped pipe located underneath the fixture. If water isn’t flowing freely in your home, don’t call the plumber just yet. 

Most drain blocks are easy to fix without professional help. However, if a blockage is allowed to build up, it can lead to burst pipes and the immediate need for an experienced plumber. 

Whether it’s your kitchen or bathroom sink that’s clogged, here are some dos and don’ts for managing the situation:

Clogged Sink Dos and Don’ts

DO: Flush Slow-Draining Sinks with Boiling Water

But, beware! Boiling water can crack porcelain, so this fix is only for sinks not made of porcelain

You’ll need to start with a clear drain, so try not to use that sink beforehand. Then, fill a tea kettle or pot with water, and bring the water to a rolling boil. If you’re clearing a kitchen drain of oil and/or fat, add a tablespoon of dish soap to the boiling water.

Slowly and carefully pour the water into the drain. This should cause the grease or hair to break up and dissolve.

DO: Unclog a Sink with Vinegar and Baking Soda

Vinegar and baking soda have been an effective option for clearing stubborn drains for years. This solution is also safe and household friendly compared to chemical-based drain openers.

Before you start, allow your sink to drain completely.  Then, pour 1/4-cup of baking soda into your drain followed by 1¼  cup of white vinegar.

Use a sink stopper or towel to plug the drain, and let the mixture work in the drain for about 20 minutes. Then, slowly pour boiling water down the drain. Repeat this process, if necessary.

DON’T: Add Water to a Completely Blocked Drain

If the standing water in your sink is not draining at all, the worst thing you can do is add more water to the basin. The additional water pressure won’t actually flush out the blockage, and you’ll need to bail it out before attempting a more effective de-clogging method.

DO: Think Twice Before Using Caustic Chemicals

Many homeowners will automatically reach for a chemical drain cleaner upon discovering a clogged sink. However, these caustic solutions can soften PVC pipes and even damage older metal pipes. Plus, there’s the potential harm it can cause you, such as stray chemical splashes burning your skin and eyes. 

If you’re set on putting a commercial drain cleaner to work, consider purchasing a biodegradable one that uses enzymes to eat away at clogs. These options are not as fast as chemical cleaners, but they’re safer and will protect your pipes.

DO: Try Using a Plunger on Light Clogs

You might be able to loosen a clog with a smaller plunger. Some clogs simply need an extra push to get moving. 

Make sure the sink contains a few inches of water, and block the overflow drain to prevent water from leaking out. Place the rubber suction directly over the sink drain. Using only moderate pressure, plunge up and down.

DO: Unclog a Sink with a Wet-Dry Vacuum

You may need to use suction to clear a sink not draining properly. A wet-dry vacuum comes in handy in this instance. 

In some cases, the clog will come out completely into the vacuum. Other times, you’ll need to manually remove the clog from the end of the drain opening.

DO: Take Measures to Prevent Clogs in Your Kitchen and Bathroom Sinks

These steps can help with a clogged kitchen sink.

  • Do not allow grease, oil or coffee grounds to run down the drain or go through the disposal. 
  • Don’t overload the disposal. Grind no more than one cup of food waste at a time, and do not put any inorganic matter down the drain.
  • Freeze a mixture of half vinegar and half water into ice cubes. Periodically drop one or two of these into the garbage disposal to keep it fresh. The ground ice and slight acidity help scrape away buildup inside the disposal and the pipes.
  • Run hot water from the tap after each use.

These steps can help with a clogged bathroom sink.

  • Run hot water through all drains regularly. For infrequently used drains, run/pour hot water on a weekly basis to clear away scum and buildup.
  • Avoid flushing hair from shaving down the drain. Small hairs may not seem problematic yet, over time, they can build up and clog your sink.

If these methods fail to fix the problem, you could be facing a clog elsewhere in your home drainage system. This will require the help of a professional plumber, who will go beyond the traditional methods.

And, if you’re not inclined to fix clogs yourself, or you’re just too darn busy, get free, no-commitment estimates from the professionals at Flader Plumbing and Heating.

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