Having a clogged kitchen sink is the real pits. Fortunately, however, there are a lot of things you can do to unclog your sink at home.
Before you start trying all kinds of at-home tips, however, you should do everything within your power to ensure that you actually are dealing with a legitimate sink clog. That way, you won’t find yourself fixing a problem that doesn’t exist or fixing the wrong problem entirely.
If it does ultimately turn out that your sink is clogged, don’t panic. There are many things that you can do to fix this problem without spending a fortune.
Is Your Kitchen Sink Actually Clogged?
Before you plunge in and start doing big repairs on your kitchen sink, make sure you know the actual warning signs of a clogged sink and how to appropriately handle them.
This information and your knowledge of it could save you a lot of time, money, and hassle, so make sure you heed it well.
Your Toilets are Gurgling Loudly
You might not think that your toilets have much, if anything, to do with your kitchen sink. However, that’s not the case. All of the waterways in your home are connected.
Thus, if one water point seems upset, there’s a good chance there are issues with your overall plumbing.
Your toilet will often be the one to cue you into potential problems or issues. A gurgling toilet often reflects internal plumbing problems. So, if you notice toilet issues or other general plumbing issues, it’s not a bad idea to have a professional come check for clogs in your kitchen sink, as well as overall plumbing issues in your home.
You Experience Major Water Overflow
We’ve all been there- you forget the bathtub is running and the drain is stopped up. And, before you know it, your floor is filled with water.
These kinds of accidents happen regularly, and, when they do, it’s smart to seek the help of a professional.
However, not all such issues happen due to an accident. Sometimes, overflow occurs due to some kind of plumbing issue.
If you come home to find that, seemingly for no reason at all, your toilet or your sink has overflowed, this is a good indicator that one of your plumbing systems, most often your kitchen sink, is experiencing a clog and needs attention.
You are Experiencing Draining Issues
Another major indicator that you could have a clogged sink and that you need to research how to unclog kitchen sink options is if your sink suddenly becomes slow to drain or does not drain at all.
All kinds of things from toothpaste to food buildup could be to blame for the draining issues and the clogs. However, the only way to know for sure how to solve the problem for good is through the help of a professional.
You’ve Noticed Strange Smells or Sounds
Sometimes, your senses will be the thing that alerts you to a problem with your sink. If you happen to notice strange odors coming from the sink area, for example, this is a sign that something isn’t quite right and that your drain may be clogged.
The same goes for sounds too. A clogged drain will sometimes make “gurgling” sounds, or the pipes might even clang. If you notice anything like this or, really, just anything out of the ordinary, it’s time to get some help.
Why is Your Drain Clogged Up?
If you notice any of these signs, and it turns out that your drain is clogged up, don’t panic. Obviously, you’ll want to call someone to unclog it or attempt to do it yourself, which we’ll get to later.
The first step, however, is figuring out what clogged your drain in the first place. That way, you can avoid running into the same problem in the future. Often, people will find themselves dealing with the same clogged drain over and over again simply because they never get to the root of the issue. Thus, make that your first priority.
Common Causes of a Clogged Kitchen Sink
All kinds of things can, unfortunately, lead to a clogged sink.
One of the big ones, especially when it comes to kitchen sinks, is food that has gotten trapped in your drain.
That food typically gets stored in the “trap” part of the sink to keep it out of the rest of your pipe system. If it builds up and doesn’t get washed away, however, it can easily form a massive, smelly clog.
We know it’s gross to think about, but every time you wash your hands, skin flakes come off. And, if you’re washing your hands at the kitchen sink, that means skin flakes are going down into your drain. Just like food, those flakes can build up. And, if your pipes don’t get flushed regularly, that plus hair and other general human debris can lead to a major clog.
Factors Lead to Major Clog
Grease is yet another thing that can majorly clog your drain. Grease may start out as a liquid, but, if you’ve ever seen it cool, it solidifies. And, when you dump grease down your drain, it’s no different. That grease turns solid and causes a major clog. Obviously, you should avoid using your kitchen sink as a place to pour your grease in the future. But, if it’s too late, and the damage is done, you’ll likely need some serious help for your kitchen sink.
Other small objects, like toys, that end up in your drain can also cause problems. The same goes for any of the major “no-nos” of what NOT to put down your drain. Big “no’s” include the following:
Unclogging Your Kitchen Sink without Calling the Plumber
Plumbers can be expensive. That’s why so many people prefer to try and learn how to unclog kitchen sink on their own.
Fortunately for these people, it’s not really all that difficult. In fact, it’s one of the few types of plumbing jobs that you can almost always do yourself.
There are several different methods that you can try for how to unclog kitchen sink, and we’ll provide you with a few of the best and most foolproof.
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Try the Plunger Trick
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If you have a plunger, and most people do, you may be able to quickly and easily unclog your kitchen sink, depending on the severity of the problem.
To try this trick, you’ll want to begin by filling up your sink about a fourth of the way with water. Once the sink is full, turn off the tap and grab your plunger.
Place the plunger over the affected drain and pump it up and down several times in quick succession. Remove the plunger. If the plunger has done the trick of unclogging the sink, the water will start to drain right away.
If it doesn’t work on the first try, don’t give up. Try the plunger method at least a few times before moving on. Also, keep in mind that, sometimes, this trick will somewhat unclog a drain but not fully. Thus, make sure everything is working properly before you declare your sink “fixed.”
The Coat Hanger Hack
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We’ll go ahead and preface this trick by letting you know that it doesn’t always work. Also, when it does work, it works mainly with two bowl sinks when only one side is clogged. If your sink fits into that specific category, then you might just have luck with the coat hanger hack.
To try the trick, find the “waste tee” under your sink. Note that, inside of the waste tee, there is a “baffle,” which is a common place for food and other debris to get stuck, thereby leading to a clog. By bending a coat hanger into a hook with a pair of pliers, you can snake it down the drain and attempt to remove clogs near the baffle.
It can take some twisting and wiggling once you’ve reached the baffle to dislodge your clog. Give it a few tries, though, being forceful enough to remove a clog but gentle enough not to break anything. If you can’t get this method to work for you after a few tries, then your clog may be located elsewhere in the sink. However, this simple trick is always worth a try before you do anything more invasive.
Check Your Garbage Disposal
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Sometimes, a clogged drain isn’t really a clogged drain at all. Instead, it’s a clogged garbage disposal. While disposals were invented to make your life easier, they rarely work perfectly, which is why you should limit your use of them if you want to avoid regular clogs and other problems.
The good news is that garbage disposal clogs are fairly easy to diagnose and fix. Try turning the switch to your garbage disposal on. If you find that you hear a humming sound and not the usual churning sound garbage disposals make, this is a pretty good indicator of a jam.
If you’re handy with tools, you may be able to simply remove the unit and clean it thoroughly. Following that, you may find the clog gone. If that doesn’t work, you can try the plunger trick specifically on the side where your garbage disposal is located.
If none of that works, then your problem is probably not your garbage disposal but something else within the sink.
Make this Magic Concoction
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We’ve all seen various drain unclogging products at the store. And, while some of these work well, you can often remove clogs more effectively and more cheaply by simply making your own sink unclogging solution at home, probably with ingredients you already have on hand at home.
To get started with this hack, you’ll want to drain all of the water out of your sink. If you have a lot of standing water, which is common with clogged sinks, scoop it out a little at a time until the sink is dry.
From there, you’ll want to pour one full cup of baking soda down your drain. Sometimes, you may have trouble getting it to go down, especially if the clog is particularly bad, but you can usually force it down with your hands or a metal spoon.
Once the baking soda is down the drain, add one cup of vinegar. Then, place the stopper over the drain, giving the mixture you have created nowhere else to go but down your sink and, hopefully, into the clog.
While you let the solution do its work, boil four cups of water. Once boiled and while still steaming hot, remove the stopper and pour the mixture down the drain. Once everything has gone down, see if the clog is gone.
If not, you can repeat this process one more time. If it still doesn’t work, then you will need to clean your sink out thoroughly to remove any baking soda residue and try another trick.
Try a Basket Strainer Snake
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One thing that you can try, if you’re not having luck with the other methods, is to get a drain snake, also commonly referred to as a plumber’s snake. A drain snake, as the name implies, is designed to “snake” down your drain and get rid of clogs in the process.
To try this method, get a drain snake from any hardware store. Modify the end slightly so that it will fit into the strainer basket. It can take a few tries to secure the perfect fit, but, once you’ve got it, push the snake into any of the slots or holes on the drainer basket that you can easily reach. Move the snake up and down and all around
Remove it, and then check for debris on the snake. If you see some, take it as a good indicator that the snake has pulled up what was clogging your drain.
However, the only way to be sure if it actually worked is to try filling the sink with water and seeing if it goes down. If it doesn’t, you can give the snake a few more tries to see if it eventually gets at the clog. If it doesn’t, then the problem probably doesn’t lie in your strainer basket.
Clean Out Your P-Trap
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If none of these other methods have worked for you thus far, then the problem could lie in your P-trap. Thus, the only viable solution is to disassemble and clean out the trap.
This is a bit of a lengthy process, but it’s worth it to fix your clog without calling a plumber.
Make sure you keep a bucket or pail underneath the trap when you loosen it. Water and other debris will likely fall out, and you don’t want that mess all over your nice kitchen floor.
As you clean the trap, check for cracks, holes, or other issues with the P-trap. If you find any issues, you may want to consider replacing the trap entirely. If you don’t, this will only lead to more problems in the future and more of doing this gross work.
Whether you ultimately decide to just reinstall your current P-trap or to replace it altogether, run your water, preferably warm water to get everything loose and moving, to see if the problem has been fixed. If not, then it may be time to call a plumber.
When It’s Time to Call the Plumber…
If you’ve tried all of these tricks and maybe even then some, it’s time to bite the bullet and go ahead and call a plumber. You should take heart in knowing that drain clogs are one of the more common and more affordable problems to have fixed.
Thus, while it may not be as simple or as cheap as fixing it yourself, a plumber can be a good option when you feel you’ve exhausted all of your other choices. Plus, at least you’ll have the peace of mind of knowing that your problem is fixed fully and permanently.