What to Do When Your Sink is Clogged

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Home Improvement

There are several ways to unclog a sink, including plunging, snaking, or using a cleanser. Nikola Stojadinovic / Getty Images

It’s common for various objects to find their way into your sink drain and cause a clog. If this happens, there are different methods you can try to unclog your sink. These methods include plunging, snaking, or using a cleanser.

Here’s how to unclog your sink using a plunger:

  1. Partially fill the sink with water.
  2. Use the plunger to vigorously move up and down several times.
  3. Quickly remove the plunger from the drain opening.

If you have a double-bowl kitchen sink, you will need to plug one drain to concentrate the pressure where the clog is. To do this, you can block the drain you’re not plunging with a wet rag [source: Henkenius].

If plunging doesn’t work, you’ll need to snake the drain.

  1. Remove the sink trap, which may require a pipe wrench.
  2. Empty any trapped water into a bucket.
  3. Check the trap for clogs and remove them if necessary.
  4. Remove the sink trap arm that protrudes from the stubout (the extension of the pipe that goes into the wall).
  5. Insert a plumber’s snake (cable auger) into the stubout until you feel resistance.
  6. Take out approximately 18 inches (46 centimeters) of cable, and tighten the lock screw on the snake.
  7. Turn the snake handle clockwise while pushing forward until you dislodge the blockage.
  8. If the snake gets stuck, turn it counterclockwise while pulling back. Once it’s free, continue snaking out the drain.
  9. Replace the sink trap arm and the trap once you’ve unblocked the drain.
  10. Turn on the hot water and check if it drains. If not, partially fill the sink with hot water and remove any debris with a plunger.
  11. Check the drainage again by running hot water.

If you don’t have a snake, you can try pushing the clog out with a wire, such as a straightened-out wire hanger.

It’s not recommended to use commercial sink-unclogging products containing lye because they’re hazardous (you won’t be able to work on a pipe full of lye) and can corrode your pipes. Instead, you can pour baking soda down the drain, followed by vinegar or peroxide. Let this sit for half an hour before rinsing. Even dish soap preceded and followed by boiling water may do the trick [source: Cooper].

If none of these methods work, it’s best to call a plumber!


1. What causes a sink to clog?

A sink can become clogged due to various reasons such as buildup of food particles, grease, hair, soap scum, and other debris. Sometimes, foreign objects such as jewelry, toys, and other items can also cause clogs. Over time, these materials accumulate in the drain and eventually block water from flowing freely.

2. What tools do I need to unclog a sink?

You will need a plunger, a pipe wrench or pliers, a drain snake, and a bucket to collect any water that comes out of the sink. A pair of gloves and safety glasses are also recommended to protect your hands and eyes from any debris or chemicals that may come in contact with them.

3. Can I use chemical drain cleaners?

While chemical drain cleaners can be effective in unclogging sinks, they can also be harmful to your pipes and the environment. The harsh chemicals can corrode your pipes, and if not used properly, they can also cause injury to your skin and eyes. It is always best to use natural or mechanical methods to unclog your sink.

4. How do I use a plunger to unclog a sink?

First, remove any standing water from the sink. Place the plunger over the drain and make sure it is completely covering the hole. Fill the sink with enough water to cover the plunger’s cup. Then, push and pull the plunger vigorously up and down, creating suction. Repeat several times until the clog is cleared.

5. How do I use a drain snake to unclog a sink?

Insert the snake into the drain and turn the handle clockwise to feed it through the pipes. Keep turning the handle until you feel resistance, indicating that you have reached the clog. Then, turn the handle counterclockwise to pull the snake back out, taking the debris with it. Keep repeating this process until the clog is cleared.

6. What if neither the plunger nor the drain snake works?

If both of these methods fail, you may need to remove the trap under the sink to manually remove the clog. First, place a bucket under the trap to catch any water. Use a pipe wrench or pliers to loosen the nuts that hold the trap in place. Once the trap is removed, use a wire hanger or other tool to remove the clog. Finally, reattach the trap and run water to ensure the sink is draining properly.

7. Can I prevent sink clogs?

Yes, you can prevent sink clogs by being mindful of what you put down the drain. Avoid pouring grease or oil down the sink, and use a strainer to catch any food particles and hair. Regularly cleaning your sink and drain with a mixture of baking soda and vinegar can also help prevent clogs.

8. How often should I clean my sink and drain?

Cleaning your sink and drain should be done regularly to prevent clogs. Depending on how often you use the sink, you may need to clean it weekly or monthly. A mixture of baking soda and vinegar can be used to clean and deodorize the sink and drain.

9. Can I hire a professional to unclog my sink?

Yes, if you are not comfortable or able to unclog your sink yourself, you can hire a professional plumber to do the job. They have the experience and tools necessary to quickly and safely unclog your sink.

10. How much does it cost to hire a professional plumber to unclog a sink?

The cost of hiring a professional plumber to unclog your sink will vary depending on your location and the severity of the clog. On average, you can expect to pay between $100 and $250 for a plumber to unclog your sink.

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