How to Best Clear Your Clogged Sink

We have had a major problem in our household this week. We needed to know how to fix our clogged sink–for FIVE days! There were so many dirty, sopping wet towels on the floor and food particles in our bathroom. We were doing dishes in the bathtub and our house was in a constant state of disarray during this time–I was going insane!

As you know, we are homeowners that are trying to learn how to handy-man as we go. In the case of our clogged sink, I found myself wishing we were still renting a small apartment with maintenance on call. But fear not! We were able to clear away the blockage at last. If you find yourself in this situation, use these steps to best clear your clogged sink.

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How to Best Clear Your Clogged Sink:

1. Look for any leaking

As soon as you notice a clog, you need to check under the sink to make sure there isn’t any water intrusion. We keep a lot of items under our sink, like grocery bags and cleaning products, so we had to clear away items before being able to set a bucket underneath. This is also a good time to look at your pipes to see how everything’s connected.

2. Use a sink plunger 

Plunger for Clogged Sink

The first thing you will need to do with a clogged sink, is to try to remove the blockage. For this you will need a sink plunger like the image above. We only had a normal plunger, but that doesn’t work because you need a flat head. To plunge the sink, you will need to fill up the opposite sink with water (If it’s a dual sink and your garbage disposal side is showing the clog). Hopefully, after doing this, your clog will dissipate.

But if you’re like us, you may still have the clog and the plunger did nothing to help you.

3. Snake the drains

Snake for Clogged sink

If plunging didn’t help, then you will need to try to clear the drain using a snake. DO NOT purchase things like Draino, because they can cause damage to your pipes. You can get a cheap plastic snake, like the one above, or you can upgrade to an auger depending on the level of clog you’re working with. We ended up purchasing a 25 foot auger and running it through both sinks, and the connecting pipe, out into our backyard but STILL had a clogged sink. You’ll know if you reach the clog because the snake will appear to get stuck and will come back with the handful of hair or whatever is causing the blockage.

This was NOT the case for us and we were coming up on day 3 of our clog.

4. Replace the p-trap

P-Trap for Clogged Sink

A p-trap is the u-shaped pipe below your sink. You can try replacing your p-trap at any point when you notice the clog. This can be where the the clog can be found, so it’s a good thing to check right away and to replace immediately if you see leaking.

After trying all of the suggestions, we ended up having to use step 5.

5. Call a professional

As easy as it is to fix the plumbing yourself, I found that having a professional out was the easiest step of this process. After we had the right contractor out. Here are my tips for looking for a plumber:

  • Get referrals from Family/Friends. We aren’t from the area, so neither of our parents knew people in town. But I had a few contacts from work. It’s best to ask people who they’ve used and who they like so you don’t end up wasting your time or money with someone.
  • Plumbers SHOULD be able to clear clogs. I know this sounds like it’s obvious, but we called a plumber with good reviews and they said we could only use a drain company to clear a clog. RUN if this happens! They should know how to clear a clog.
  • Don’t pay for services until the work is complete. If the plumber can’t clear your clogged sink like you expect, then you don’t need to pay him until he can. If a contractor asks for money upfront, or something like $80 for an estimate, then I would recommend NOT using them. You could end up spending more money than necessary.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for a second opinion. The first guy we had come clear our pipes 1- couldn’t clear a drain and 2- told us we would need to tear into the walls. This was AFTER he’d been at our house for over 2 hours. We were not about trying to fix drywall, so we called a second company. They cleared our drain in 5 minutes and only cost $80 total to do so. SO WORTH that second phone call.

After this experience, we learned what NOT to put down our garbage disposal. From this point forward, we will be throwing our coffee grounds away before rinsing our French press. I hope these steps help you be handymen at your own home!

How to prevent a clogged sink

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