How to Drain a Clogged Sink

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Whether you are a young and newly named house owner or you are an old and experienced soul who has been living on their own for quite a while, there is one thing that will always show its unpleasant face to you and that is a clogged sink. And it will never fade, never go away and never repair on its own until you take time and attention to learn about it or most importantly, learn how to drain a clogged sink.

Because, believe it or not, plumbers are not always available at the caller’s beck and call and might take as long as 20 minutes to come to the rescue. By that time, your house might as well be flooding, stinking or the sink might be spraying you in the face with the dirty water.

Market available chemical cleaners are also not an option as they often end up doing more harm than good. The chemical composition in them is so intense that it can harm the people in the house. No need to take such risks when simple techniques at home can be used to deal with the issue.

To take care of the flooding and clogged drain once and for all, one must learn what causes the entire blockage in the first place, how to drain a clogged sink, and how to keep your plumbing systems in perfect condition. Let’s begin with enlightening ourselves with what causes our kitchen and bathroom sinks to clog and how we can avoid it:

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Reasons behind a Clogged Kitchen Sink:

As much as we’d like to blame the landlords, previous house owners or the person responsible for fitting the sink and the pipe, it is usually us who have a major hand in getting the bathroom and kitchen sinks blocked. The equation is simple; if we put something in, that is not supposed to go down the drain, then we’ll suffer from the consequences. Problem is, most of the time, we don’t even know what is good or what is bad for the sink drain. Let’s discover the unwelcome objects that end up being the reason behind clogged drain.

1.   Food Wraps:

The kitchen is the place where magic happens and great food is prepared. Unfortunately, during all the magic tricks, people forget that plastic wrappers, foils or carton caps are not supposed to be thrown down the drain. Most of us just assume that if it is small enough to pass into the drain, then it must be fine to throw it there. However, these solid materials cannot dissolve and end up sticking in the drain pipe instead, and end up clogging the drain.

2.   Leftovers:

We cook, we eat and we put the dishes in the sink. In our hurry to clear the table and be done with washing the dishes, we forego one important step and that is emptying the dishes first. Whatever little food is left in the dish goes down the drain and causes blockage. Small rice grains may seem harmless but as they go in the water, they swell up and block the water passage and gather other particles with them too. The same goes for other food leftovers.

At the end, all the leftover food from the dishes ends up forming a large chunk and holding up the sink. The only way to avoid this kind of clog is to avoid putting plates and dishes directly in the sink. Make sure to clear them up and then start washing.

3.   Grease & Oil:

Use of oil is high in food items and so, it is one of the most common causes of clogged drains and sinks. Since oil is sticky, it often catches other small particles with it and over time, the ball of gunk grows so large that even the p-trap cannot save the drain from getting blocked. Usually, it is difficult to deal with grease and oil since they cannot be removed easily. Using hot water to wash the greased out plates and dishes helps though, and doesn’t allow the grease to harden up.

4.   Plants:

Plants are not usually a cause of clogged drains. But when the house owners are rather fond of gardening or are living in an area closer to the forest, this can become an issue. Even just having the backdoor open might bring in many stray leaves and twigs inside the house. And when the house is sporting an outdoor kitchen near the forest area, then roots are certain to find their way into pipes from underground.

Reasons behind a Clogged Bathroom Sink:

When we are learning how to how to drain a clogged sink, we are dealing with two kinds of sinks; one found in the kitchen and the other found in the bathroom as no house is without either one. One might think that bathroom sinks rarely get used for washing dishes or preparing food so how can they end up getting blocked up? Here’s how bathroom sinks get blocked and most often, they are nastier than the kitchen’s.

1.   Hair:

Hair strands have this weird and annoying habit of accumulating into a ball and blocking the entire passageway of the drain pipe. And to be honest, they are very hard to get rid of. Matter of fact, bathroom sinks, are not their only victims but they also end up in the shower drain and in the bathtub drain.

Individuals can only prevent this by avoiding combing or brushing their hair frequently in the bath or in case of a balding problem, contact a dermatologist the first chance they get. One effective method of keeping the hair out is using sink guards which are cheap and save you from a world of problems.

2.   Toiletries:

When you are using a soap that is of questionable quality and leaves soapy pieces all over the sink, then you can expect it to clog your drain. Also, makeup wipes, tissue papers and floss can often congest the drain pipe and end up flooding the sink.

3.   Foreign Objects:

This one can be blamed entirely on kids. They don’t know what can or cannot go down the sink and they end up putting all the tiny foreign objects there. Clay and small plastic toys are the most common ones. And then there are those curious kids who like to experiment with sinks by inserting pencils, pens and straws into the drain just to see how far they can go. Kids are also known for throwing up in the sink.

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Some Other Objects That Cause Clogged Sinks:

Other common causes behind the blockage of kitchen and bathroom sinks include:

  • Rags
  • Motor oil, fluids, anti-freeze and various toxic chemicals
  • Solvents, turpentine, nail polish remover and paint
  • Flammable substances
  • Coffee grinds
  • Egg shells
  • Paper towels
  • Cat litter
  • Fats, oils, or grease from food, cars and lawnmowers
  • Chunks of garbage
  • acidic or caustic substances
  • Medications

How to Drain Clogged Sink Using Homemade Mixtures:

Now that we know all about the main reasons behind a clogged drain and how we can prevent it from happening, let’s move on to the catastrophe here. What to do when the drain has already become blocked and the sink is overflowing with water? We know the struggle is real and at times like this, people usually panic. It is understandable too, especially when your sink betrays you when you are hosting a large Christmas party. Or when the guests are waiting in the dining area on Thanksgiving Day and you are horrifyingly looking at the overflowing sink.

Before you get on with the complete guide of learning how to drain a clogged sink, let us give you a helpful hint. First, remove all the dishes from the sink and then use a spoon to remove the entire visible gunk from the drain. If the blockage is not too complicated, then the water will instantly begin to drain out. If not, then try these methods:

1.   Rinse out with boiling water:

This might be the oldest trick in the book and the first method we should try when discovering how to drain a clogged sink. It is easy enough too. Just make sure to keep children and unsuspected guests away from the kitchen while you deal with the issue. Put a kettle full of water on the stove and when it heats up to the point of boiling, flush it rapidly down the drain.

When the obstruction is just a minor issue, then this is all it will take to unclog the sink and drain the water. Wait until the water begins to drain completely, then open the faucet and run the water to test if it worked. If you are lucky, then it will and if you are not, then you’ll have to try the next tip.

A tip of caution for those with PVC pipes. It is better to use just warm water to flush the drain because boiling water can melt the joints in PVC pipes. Those with metallic pipes do not need to worry about the temperature of the water.

2.   Caustic Soda:

Caustic soda should be the next line of attack if the boiling water trick fails. Knowing how to drain a clogged sink also means learning how to put safety first. Scorching water and chemicals like caustic soda (Sodium Hydroxide) are not safe to use around the kids or even alone without safety measures. Which is why, rubber gloves and eye protection must be used when using caustic soda as it can burn the skin rather nastily.

Begin by mixing 3 cups of caustic soda with ¾ gallons of water in the bucket and stirring it. When the two are mixed up, the concoction begins to bubble and heat up. Pour it directly into the bunged up drain and let it rest for half an hour. Then flush the drain with hot water.

3.   Baking Soda and Vinegar:

A mixture of baking soda and vinegar is another homemade trick that can work wonders to drain a clogged drain. This trick is a must-know when learning how to drain a clogged sink. Mixing equal amounts of baking soda and vinegar in a cup will make it fizz instantly and then the mix must be poured in the drain while it is fizzing.

The corrosive nature if the concoction will help eradicate gunk and grim including grease and hair strands. Once the obstacle is removed, the sink will begin to drain water smoothly. It will work much better if the mixture is left in the sink overnight and flushed with cold water in the morning.

4.   Soda Drinks:

This trick to learning how to drain a clogged sink might come as a surprise to many. Sodas (also referred as pop, cold drink, Coke or Pepsi) can be used very affectively to deal with the issue of a clogged sink. Just open the can of your favorite fuzzy drink and pour it down the sink. Since soda is well known for destroying teeth enamel, we can put it to better use by letting it break down gunk and other obstacles in the sink pipe.

Let it stay for a good hour or two and then follow it up with hot water. The Phosphoric acid present in soda drinks is even more effective than lemon and helps in cutting down dirt and grime.

5.   Dish Detergent

Dish detergent is another good and safe method. It not only helps clear up the sink but also cleans it up and leaves it smelling fresh. Just pour ¼ cup of the dish detergent in the sink, and follow it up with boiling water. The dish detergent serves as a lubricant and the hot water will help it reach down and cut out all the grease and other grimy substances. Use detergent of lemon flavor to make it work more effectively.

How to Drain a Clogged Sink Using Tools:

1.   Bent Wire:

This is the advantage of learning how to drain a clogged sink because when you are unarmed to deal with a situation like this, even a bent hanger can do wonders for you. Just use a coat hanger and uncurl it as best as you can. When the hanger is completely straightened out, just bend one end to create a hook. Insert this makeshift hook into the drain and use it to fish out the content causing the blockage. It gets easier to fish out hair strands which are otherwise difficult to remove.

2.   The Wet & Dry Vacuum

This can easily be called the most effective tool to remove gunk and drain a clogged sink. They have immense power and the pressure it creates is enough to pull out all the hurdles that are keeping the sink blocked. First off, make sure to change the setting to vacuuming liquids or else the vacuum will be damaged.

Then use the head of the vacuum that most closely resembles a plunger. Put the vacuum to the highest setting and use it to pull the water up. If you do it right, then the clog will move up and come up into the vacuum bag.

3.   Plunger:

Using the plunger is the most important lesson to learn when it comes to discovering how to drain a clogged sink. When all else fails, just move to the most ancient and tested method of unclogging sinks: the plunger. A plunger is almost always kept in the house and just a few plunges in the kitchen and bathroom drains solves the problems. Though plungers do not provide a permanent solution, it does helps with emergency situations to drain the water from the sink quickly.

Things We Shouldn’t Do With Our Plumbing System:

Learning how to drain a clogged sink also involves knowing about some preventive measures. While it is very practical to learn some tricks on our own, it is also important to take preventive measures. By unscrewing the pipes or using other tools without knowledge, you might damage the plumbing system and you might need to call the plumber for costly repair. Save yourselves from the trouble by being mindful of the following:

  • In case you are using a chemical drain cleaner, never make the mistake of holding or pouring it without proper protection. As we mentioned earlier, they are not safe and you might want to keep the house members away and your face and hands covered.
  • Don’t get fooled into thinking that paper towels and papers are dissolvable. Yes, they can dissolve and be softened with water but they don’t disappear. All the chunks of tissue sand paper ends up clogging the drain as well.
  • To prevent the house members from using the kitchen and bathroom sinks as a garbage can, put one in every room or at least in the bathroom and kitchen so that they never feel the need to use sinks as an alternative.

Before you put any of the above practices to use, make sure you know the source of the blockage. Most of the times, the clog is because of the main sewerage line and tackling your own plumbing system might cause even more problems.

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