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How to Clear a Sink Drain

One of the most common problems we get called to repair is a stopped sink.  Fortunately for you, clearing out a clogged sink drain is fairly simple, and often doesn’t require the caustic and damaging chemical drain cleaners you’re used to buying at the store.  From vinegar, to buying your own drain snake, there are inexpensive options you can use to unclog a drain on your own simply and easily.

Vinegar and Baking Soda

The classic elementary science experiment.  Vinegar and baking soda as a chemical reaction.  Fortunately, the foaming reaction generated by the two helps to clear away shallow clogs from grease and fats, allowing for other problems to be flushed away.  Simply:

  • Pour 1-Cup of baking soda down the drain
  • Follow with 1-Cup of vinegar
  • Allow the mixture to sit for 5 minutes
  • Pour warm water down the sink
  • If the warm water does not clear the drain, pour boiling water down the drain to try and dislodge the blockage

If your sink still refuses to drain, repeat the process a couple of times to try and clear the blockage.  Otherwise, it’s time to plunge into the next option.

Plunger and Warm Water

We probably don’t need to make this clear, but either sterilize your current plunger with warm water and a disinfectant, or use a separate plunger to clear drains that aren’t your toilet.

The goal with a plunger is to push a clog through.  Using pressure, you can dislodge whatever is causing the blockage and allow the drain to flow freely once more.  To do this, fill the sink half-way with warm water.  If you have a double sink, stop up the other drain as well.  Making sure that you have a firm seal over the drain, push and pull the plunger (working it up and down) to try and dislodge the blockage.

If you succeed, the warm water should drain away through the sink when you remove the plunger.

Auger or Drain Snake

Open the cabinet underneath your sink and clear an area to being work.  You’ll want to place a bucket underneath the curved pipe (the trap) that leads from your sink to the sewer.  Unscrew the P-Trap at both connection points, use a pipe wrench if the connections aren’t loose enough to disconnect by hand.

Be sure to empty the water in the trap into your bucket to avoid having to clean up a mess when you set the pipe down.  Check the trap for clogs and clean it out if needed.  If the trap was the location of the clog, then you’re free to reconnect the pipe and call it a day.  Otherwise, remove the pipe that connects the trap to the pipe in the wall.

  • Take your auger (pipe snake) and push it until it meets resistance.
  • Pull back roughly 18” of cable from the resistance point, then tighten the locking screw.
  • Turn the handle clockwise and push the auger forward
  • Proceed until you run out of auger cable

If you need to back up, turn the handle counter-clockwise and pull the auger back, do not yank the cable.  If you encounter resistance this way, keep pulling back and cranking the handle.  That way you’ll catch and remove the clog.

Remove the cable auger and restore the trap and drain, securing them tightly.  Run warm water down the sink and see if the drain is now clear of obstruction.

If repeated attempts with the auger, trap cleaning, plunger, or vinegar do not clear your drain, the blockage is probably deeper than you expect and you should consult a professional plumber.  Metro Plumbing will be happy to answer your call!

Metro Plumbing, Heating, and Air Conditioning is the service company you want!  Call us today at (423) 616-1025!

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