How to Unblock a Blocked Drain in a Sink

Tips for Unclogging a Sink Drain

By Mark J. Donovan

A blocked sink drain is a common household problem. Whether it be a build of grease, soap scum, or hair in a sink drain, or something that was inadvertently thrown into the sink drain, a clogged sink is a problem that must be addressed quickly. In some cases the drain may be entirely clogged, and in other cases it may only be partially clogged where the waste water drains slowly from the sink. In either case the problem is unacceptable and should be fixed promptly. Fortunately most of the time a homeowner can unblock a blocked sink drain with a plunger and/or a couple of basic tools.

Using a drain cleaning chemical should be your last option in unblocking a blocked drain. Having drain cleaning chemicals sitting stagnant in a sink of water is hazardous to your health. In addition, drain cleaning chemicals are notoriously harsh on drain pipes. Consequently it is best to attempt to remove the clog manually before resorting to chemicals.

Remove Clog from Blocked Drain

In many cases a simple small plunger may be all that is needed to unblock a blocked sink drain. However prior to using the plunger, try to remove much of the clog from the drain using a screwdriver or a piece of coat hanger. Using a piece of coat hanger often works best. Simply bend one end of the coat hanger wire to form a hook and then slide it down the drain. By twisting the coat hanger and then pulling it up you can often remove the clog.

If your sink drain has a clean out plug, remove the plug and try removing the clog from that opening. Again, you may need to use a piece of coat hanger wire to help remove the clog from this orifice.

Use Plunger to Remove Blockage

After removing as much of the blockage as possible, use a plunger to free the remains of the clog. To use the plunger properly make sure there is enough water in the sink to cover the plunger cup. Then place the plunger over the sink drain and pump it with 10 to 15 strokes in rapid succession. After pumping the plunger see if the water begins to drain freely from the sink. In most cases it will. If not, repeat the process again.

The JTRAP is often the spot where a sink drain is clogged.

Using a Drain Auger

The last tool you can try is a drain auger. A drain auger consists of a handle and a long snake that slides down into the drain. Prior to sliding the snake into the drain make sure you’ve removed the drain plug stoppers and filters from the sink drain. As you slide the snake down the drain, twist the auger handle. This causes the snake to auger into the clog, and enables you to pull the clog free when you retract the snake from the drain.

After removing the clog, run the hot water tap for 5 to 10 minutes to remove any residual clog material in the sink drain. This will help to reduce the risk of the clog reforming.

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