Clogged kitchen sinks are one of the most common drainage issues in the home. This is mainly because food bits and oil clump together. Thankfully, clogged drains and basins are some of the easiest DIY home repairs that can be done. In this article we’ll walk you through how to unblock your sink with ease.
Before we continue, let’s recap on what should NOT be washed down your kitchen sinks and bathroom basins, earbuds, tooth floss, cotton wool, coffee grounds, eggshells, gum, paint, food wrappers, fats/grease/oil, food debris, soil, cigarette butts and any other solids that belong in your dustbin. But mistakes happen and we all know that children don’t listen to a word we say so here we sit with a blocked drain and we want to clear this sucker asap!
However, before you jump right in please remember… NEVER USE CHEMICAL DRAIN CLEANERS on your drains. These cleaners cause far more damage than good (even if it seems that the clog has cleared) and professional plumbers advise that you do not touch them at any cost.
Before calling in a plumber, try these DIY methods to unblock your sink;
Flush your drains with boiling water
Think of all the soap residue, grease, hair, body oils, and lotions that get washed off your hands and down into your basin, think of all the food debris and fat that gets washed down your kitchen sink? Boiling water is one of the easiest ways to break down the grease build-up and dislodge the blockage and should be the first thing that you try to unblock your sink or basin.
Step 1: Boil your kettle
Step 2: Remove as much of the standing water as possible with a cup while the kettle boils
Step 3: Pour the boiling water slowly and directly into the drain opening in stages, pausing for a few seconds between each pour. The boiling water will hopefully travel through the pipes, dissolving obstructions.
Step 4: Let the boiling water sit in the pipe for a few minutes
Step 5: Turn on the tap to see if the water is draining properly again
*WARNING – DO NOT TRY THE BOILING WATER METHOD IF YOUR DRAIN HAS PVC PIPING AS THE BOILING WATER COULD MELT OR DAMAGE THE PIPES. CONTACT YOUR LOCAL PLUMBER BEFORE ATTEMPTING THIS METHOD TO BE ABSOLUTELY CERTAIN.*
If the water is still not flowing properly after pouring boiling water into the drain, it’s time to move onto another method to unblock your sink or basin.
Taking the plunge
Fill the sink or basin with enough warm water to cover the rubber part of the plunger. Position the plunger over the hole and plunge slowly and rhythmically at first, building up to a faster pace with a harder plunging motion. After a few good hard plunges, lift the plunger and check to see if the water in the sink drains. If the water drains, flush the drain with hot water to dislodge any remaining residue in the pipe. If the water still doesn’t drain, repeat the process until the water drains freely.
Plumber’s Tip: If your basin has an overflow, use a wad of wet toilet paper to block it while you’re plunging to create a vacuum. This helpful tip will allow you unblock your sink with ease.
Is your sink still blocked? Time to move onto the next method!
Fizz it away!
Bicarbonate of Soda (Baking Soda) and Vinegar is the natural, environmentally friendly alternative to drain cleaner and often much more effective. You may even have these magic DIY ingredients in your kitchen already!
Step 1: Remove as much of the standing water as possible using a disposable cup
Step 2: Remove your plug if possible by untwisting it
Step 3: Pour 1 cup of Bicarbonate of Soda down the drain. Push it down as far as possible with a spoon or plastic, sturdy chopstick
Step 4: Now pour one cup of vinegar into the drain and replace the plug to seal the drain while it fizzes and let it sit for an hour to work
Step 5: Remove the plug and flush the drain with very warm or boiling water (remember to avoid boiling water if you have PVC pipes)
If your drain is still not clear, repeat the above method a few times. However, if the above 3 methods haven’t worked yet you may be dealing with a more stubborn clog that will need a bit more expertise to remove.
Use a Plumber’s Snake or a wire Coat Hanger
If you have a Plumber’s Snake or you have the inclination to buy one – now is the time to use it! Push it slowly into the blocked drain and when you feel it hit the obstruction, slowly turn the handle to unblock your sink and pull it out of the drain.
You may use a wire Coat hanger as an alternative to a Plumber’s Snake by untwisting it and straightening it. Create a hook at the end of the wire and push it down slowly into the drain until you feel it reach the blockage, Twist it a bit to ensure that the hooked end snags onto the blog and slowly pull it out.
Caution: Do not push the Plumber’s Snake or the wire Coat Hanger down too far or too fast into the drain as you might end up pushing the clog down even further into the drain. Gently does it!
We understand that DIY plumbing can get very tiresome, very messy and otherwise very daunting, especially if you don’t know what’s going on. The Golden Rule here is that if you feel that all DIY drain cleaning tips have failed you or you’re thinking of using drain cleaning acid…rather stop what you’re doing and phone Absolute Plumbing Cape Town immediately. DO NOT attempt to make use of any drain cleaning acids to unblock your sink on your own, this is a job best left to the professionals.