A clogged drain is among the most common sink problems and can be relatively easy to fix or difficult depending on where the clog is located.
- First, you need some tools. A plunger and a drain snake (also called a hand auger) will be needed. For the drain snake, we recommend using a 3/8 in. wide model with 20 ft. length. You’ll also want a flashlight, rubber gloves, and a plastic bin handy so you have someplace to toss what you find.
- If you’re using a kitchen sink with a garbage disposal, check that for clogs first. Unplug the device then plunge the side of the sink that has the disposal first. You can also use an Allen wrench to turn the blades manually using a hole on the bottom of the dispenser, this can help to free up any debris stuck on the blades. Plug the device back in. If the disposal is not turning on at all, give it about a minute and hit the reset button at the base of the unit.
- Plunge! If you have a dishwasher make sure that is clamped off before you begin. In the case of double-sinks, seal the other drain before you begin (a wet rag can do the job). Fill the sink with a few inches of water and roll the head a bit to make sure that you’re plunging with water and not air, and then get to work. This may take a little while so don’t give up if it doesn’t work right away.
- If no amount of furious plunging fixes the problem, then you’ll have to go into the cabinet and disassemble some pipes. Put the bucket we mentioned earlier underneath the sink, then carefully remove the P-trap (this is the pipe that curls back around on itself after the straight drop down). Clean out the P-trap. If that doesn’t resolve the problem, remove the trap arm (the remaining piece that feeds into the wall) and clean that part out as well.
- If at this point the clog still isn’t fixed it is time to bust out the augur. Loosen the setscrew on the device and pull out about a foot of cable, then tighten the screw again. Steadily spin the snake down the line, you may hit an obstruction early, if so that is likely the snake turning a corner. You will feel it when you hit a clog, just crank on through that clock until the snake makes it out the other end. At that point, slowly retract the snake, cleaning off any gunk as you remove the device. Once you have fully retracted the device, remove all gunk, toss gunk in bucket, and repeat the process until you are no longer running into obstructions.
- Reassemble the pipes and run warm water into the drain. At this point clogs should be clear, but if not this is the time at which to call a professional.