A DIY approach is a great way to develop useful skills and save money. Unclogging your sink may be possible if you follow our five simple tips in this article. But, if you cannot clear the clog, it’s a good idea to contact your local plumber for expert help. There may be an underlying issue that you cannot fix without formal training, experience, and specialist tools.
A Brief Unclogging Sink Primer
Before we begin, there are a few things that you should bear in mind. First, don’t use store bought drain cleaning products because they contain caustic chemicals that damage your plumbing pipes. Next, our following tips can be repeated multiple times and you can try one approach and switch to another as you wish. But, if you have tried a number of methods and multiple attempts with no success you probably need a plumber. Let’s take a look at five simple unclogging tips that you can try on your sinks. They are:
1. Boiling Water
At the heart of many drain clogs, you may find a residue of sticky material formed from grease and oil that has adhered to other debris. In some cases, it may be possible to melt this core and then flush the drain clear of the clog remains. If the sink has backed up water in it, this must be removed or this method will not work. Use a small vessel to remove the dirty water and get direct access to the drain. Once the standing water is removed pour an entire kettle of boiling water into the sink and let it sit for a while. If the water level drops, it means that this approach is working. To repeat the process, remove the now cool water and pour in a fresh kettle of boiling water. This approach may need to be repeated several times to fully melt and remove the drain clog.
2. A Cup Plunger
A simple cup plunger is an affordable tool that should be in every DIY plumbing toolkit. Remove the standing water and fill the sink until it’s ¼ full of hot water. Place the plunger over the drain to create a seal and move the handle up and down. This will change the pressure inside the pipe which may shake the drain clog free or break it apart. This approach may be repeated a few times and if it doesn’t work try the next tip.
3. A Homemade Drain Cleaner
Store bought drain cleaning products are bad for your home, but you can make your own chemical cleaner that’s safe and easy to use. The two ingredients are baking soda and white vinegar that many people have in their store cupboards. Clean out any standing water to get easy access to the drain and pour in a ½ cup of baking soda. Pour slowly to get the maximum amount of baking soda into the drain. Follow the baking soda with a ½ cup of white vinegar and a chemical reaction will occur. The white mixture will fix in the drain and leave it to work for at least 15 minutes. After the 15 minutes have elapsed pour around four cups of hot water into the drain and it may drain quickly. If the water stays in the sink you can repeat this process when the water has cooled and it’s easy to remove. This homemade drain cleaning mixture is an effective cleaner, deodorizer and it’s kind on your plumbing system.
4. Clean the P-trap
For this next cleaning method, you will need some gloves, a wrench, and a bucket. The p-trap is under the sink, it’s the arm that extends from the main drain to the wall. If a clog has formed in the p-trap it can be harder to remove and it’s common to find coffee grinds and/or grease in this location. The plunging action will not remove this clog, it will be necessary to remove the p-trap, clean it, and then reassemble. This task should take around 10-15 minutes or a little longer if you’re not confident with tools. Always wear rubber gloves during this cleaning process because there will be bacteria present. Start by removing any puddles or standing water and place the bucket underneath to capture the wastewater. Loosen the p-trap with the wrench, wiggle it free and any dirty wastewater will flow into the bucket. Clean out any debris and clean the p-trap in clean water outdoors to minimize mess. The p-trap should be fully dry before you reassemble the drain system and test it.
5. Use a Plumbing Snake
A plumbing snake or augur is an affordable tool available in different sizes and it’s a great idea to have one or two in your toolbox. This is a flexible rod with a drill bit at the business hand and a crank at the handle. The plumbing snake is fed into the drain until it comes into contact with the drain clog. The crank is then turned and this drills the business end into the clog to break it apart. The loose pieces of drain clog can then be collected from the sink or flushed away in the drain with cold water.
A professional plumber will always prefer to use a manual removal method to deal with drain clogs. Chemical drain cleaners may seem to be a good option, but they damage pipes and the clog usually returns quickly. There are eco-friendly drain cleaners that don’t contain harsh caustic chemicals, but the efficacy of the products is debatable. The homemade drain cleaning that uses baking soda and white vinegar is a better compromise. Prevention is better than the cure, fitting drain covers to keep foreign materials out of the drain is a smart move. It’s also a great idea to avoid pouring grease, oil, and other waste into the drain where they can form formidable clogs.
If you’ve tried these five drain clearing tips with no success, it’s time to contact your local professional plumber.