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Repair & Maintenance

Don’t Call The Plumber Just Yet: 9 Ways to Unclog Your Kitchen Sink Drain

DIY home projects are great for saving money and enjoying a good challenge, but these household projects are better left for professionals.

Running water in sink

It can be a helpless feeling when the kitchen sink won’t drain. With water backing up and a counter full of dirty dishes waiting to be cleaned, it may be tempting to reach for the phone and dial the plumber. Before you do, read these easy, do-it-yourself ways to unclog that drain.

1. Boiling water

This is the easiest and least expensive solution of all, which makes it the best one to try first. Place a kettle or pot of water on the stove and bring to a rolling boil. While you’re waiting for the water to heat, remove as much standing water from the sink as you can, using a mug or small pot to bail out the water. Then, pour the entire kettle of water into the sink and wait. If the water stands in the sink and the clog doesn’t move, give the water time to cool and remove it to try again. You may need to repeat the process several times to move the clog, but this often works on many types of stoppage.

2. Disposal

Check to make sure it’s not your garbage disposal that's causing the problem. A clogged disposal can stop up the drain, so run the disposal to see if that clears the clog. Then inspect it to make sure it’s running correctly. If the disposal has overheated, you may need to flip the switch found on the side or bottom of the unit underneath the sink.

3. Salt and boiling water

After removing standing water from the sink, pour about ½ cup of table salt down the drain before you pour in the boiling water. Let it sit for a few minutes, and then flush with hot water to clear the mixture.

4. Vinegar and baking soda

 Again, remove standing water first. Pour about a cup or so of baking soda into the drain, followed by an equal amount of white or apple cider vinegar. The solution will bubble, but when they subside, put the stopper in and wait about 15 minutes. Next, run hot water to see if the clog clears. Repeat if needed.

5. Baking soda and salt

This is another combination that can work on sink clogs. Mix about a cup of baking soda with a half-cup of salt, and pour down the drain. Let the mixture sit for several hours, then flush with boiling water. You can repeat this process if it doesn’t work the first time.

6. Plunger

 If these combinations aren’t successful in unclogging your sink, reach for a common household plunger. If you have a double sink, first seal off the second side with a wet cloth or a stopper. You’ll need to create a tight seal around the plunger, so fill the side of the sink you intend to plunge with enough water to cover the bell of the plunger. Place the plunger firmly over the drain and plunge vigorously several times. When you hear the suction clear the clog, remove the plunger and flush the drain well with warm water.

7. P-trap

 It may be necessary to clean your kitchen drain’s P-trap to clear the clog. The P-trap is at the curve of the drainpipe under the sink, usually inside a cabinet. Place a pan or bucket underneath the drain to catch any water or debris that may fall out. Unfasten the P-trap from the drainpipe and clear out anything that is stuck. Then replace and run water through it.

8. Plumber's snake

Sometimes called an auger, this handy tool can clear clogs that may be stuck further down the system. You’ll have to disassemble the drainpipe and P-trap that runs underneath the kitchen sink to expose the “stub pipe” or “stubout” that travels behind the cabinet wall. This is where you insert the snake into the pipe until you feel resistance to break up the clog.

9. Coat hanger

If you don’t have a plumber’s snake, you can use a wire coat hanger by straightening it. Of course, it won’t reach as far as a plumber’s snake would, but it may be long enough to reach some clogs. Insert it into the kitchen drain or stub pipe to push through or pull out the clog if you can reach it. Be careful not to scratch your sink with the wire.

To keep your sink smelling fresh and running clear, pour in equal parts of vinegar and baking soda on a regular basis. For routine cleaning, you’ll just need about one-half cup of each. Let the mixture sit for a few minutes before running some warm water down the drain. You can also use lemon juice for the same purpose.

Of course, it’s always easier to avoid clogs in the first place. If you have a kitchen garbage disposal, don’t overload it. Feed items in a little at a time, and wait until they grind and run through completely before adding more. Never put bacon grease, coffee grounds or oils down your kitchen drain, and always make sure you run plenty of water down the drain after each use. It’s important to know how to maintain and care for your all your home's plumbing components and systems to keep things running smoothly.

If these methods don’t work, or if your kitchen drain clogs frequently or persistently drains slowly, it may be time to place that call to a plumbing professional.

 

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