1.6 million Americans do not have indoor plumbing.
For those of us fortunate enough to have sinks that run and toilets that flush, life is a shower of bliss.
Yet what happens when our precious plumbing does not work the way we need it to?
The odor, inconvenience, and unsightly mess that results from a clogged sink is not something that most of us can live with for long.
Before you pick up that phone to call a professional, you may be wondering how to unclog a sink yourself.
Here are some handy ways to deal with a clogged sink on your own, and some ways to know when it’s time to call an expert.
1. Watch What You Drain
It may seem obvious, but a large part of preventing a clogged kitchen sink involves being careful about what goes down your drain. Grease, oil, and coffee grinds are all detrimental to your pipes. Oil and grease will eventually congeal at colder temperatures and form buildup along the inside of your pipes.
After cooking with oil or grease, allow the liquid to settle. Then dispose of it in a coffee can or other covered container.
In addition, fibrous foods like meat, pasta, and potatoes will solidify once settled. Use a strainer over your drain to prevent food from going down. And be sure to scrape your plates before rinsing them.
2. Try Boiling Water
One simple way to loosen the particles in your drain’s pathway is to pour boiling water down your drain.
You can begin by removing as much standing water as you can from the sink. Next, pour an entire kettle of boiling water down your drain.
You may have to repeat the process several times before you loosen the stoppage. If it persists after five or more attempts, however, it may be time to contact a plumbing professional.
3. Check Your Disposal
Try running your garbage disposal first and see if that clears your clog. You may need to flip the switch at the bottom of your garbage disposal is overheated.
If neither of those things works, you may need to do a little basic handy work on your disposal.
You can remove the quarter-inch hex wrench that comes attached to most garbage disposals. Try fitting it in the hex-shaped hole at the bottom of your disposal’s cylinder. Turn it both ways to try to clear the jam lose, and run the water to make sure it is clear.
4. Natural Remedies
Many folks like to try naturally clearing out their drains before calling a plumber. You may wish, for example, to pour a half a cup of table salt down your drain before chasing it with a kettle of boiling water. You can also consider mixing your salt with a half a cup of baking soda before flushing.
Another popular home remedy is pouring in a half a cup of baking soda, followed by a cup of white vinegar or apple cider vinegar. The mixture will begin to bubble. Once the fizzing subsides, put a stopper over your drain and wait fifteen minutes.
Finally, you can pour boiling water down your drain and see if that clears your clog.
5. Use a Plunger
If you would like to try to plunge your problem out of your drain, start by filling your sink with enough water to cover the bell of your plunger. If you have a double sink, be sure to cover your other drain with a wet cloth or stopper.
Be sure that your plunger is the type that can taper down a tight hole. Plunge vigorously ten to twelve times, and see if you can remove the clog.
6. Check out Your P-Trap
Your P-trap is located at the bottom of the curve in your drainpipe. Before attempting to clean it out, place a bucket underneath it to catch any water or debris.
Unscrew the nuts on the trap by turning them clockwise. Once you have unfastened the drainpipe, you can remove anything that is stuck.
After cleaning out your trap, you can reassemble it and run the water to see if the clog is gone.
7. Try a Hanger
Another simple way to try to unclog your drain yourself is to unbend a coat hanger into a straight line with a hook. Send it down the drain until you encounter resistance.
You can clear the clog by pulling your hanger up. If you don’t encounter any resistance, the clog is further down than your hanger will go.
If none of these remedies work, it may be time to enlist the help of professional plumbing services.
If your blockages are regular or continual, it could be a sign of a greater problem. For example, severe backups could mean that you have a blocked sewer line. Attempting to fix this yourself could lead to more costly repairs or damage to your neighbors’ pipes.
If you hear gurgling sounds, it is also time to call a professional. The smell of rotten eggs could mean that there is a broken vent or sewer pipe under your house.
These problems could wreak havoc on your plumbing and the environment. If you notice any or all of them, find a reputable plumber in your area.
How to Unclog a Sink
If you are a homeowner, you may have wondered how to unclog a sink yourself. Boiling water, baking soda, plungers, and hangers are all natural household remedies. If none of them work, it may be time to enlist the help of a professional.
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