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Everything You Need to Know About a Clogged Sink

Technician using plunger to clear a clogged sink - Williams Comfort Air Heating, Cooling, Plumbing & More

Homeowners struggle with a clogged sink at the most inconvenient times. Who wants to spend their time dealing with a clog in the sink? Unclogging a sink takes time, but with the right tools and advice from professionals, it’s easier than you think. 

In Indianapolis, Indiana, Williams Comfort Air gives homeowners that good advice. We offer the best tips about how to fix a clog yourself. DIY solutions work in most cases, but sometimes you need a plumber. We let you know when to call in a professional for help too.

Common Causes of a Clogged Sink

In most homes, a clogged sink occurs semi-frequently. Though inconvenient, these clogs are usually caused by the same things over and over again. Some of the most common causes of clogged sinks are obvious, but some are more difficult to pinpoint. Here are some of the biggest perpetrators of blockages in your kitchen and bathroom sinks.

  • Coffee grounds. Coffee grounds cause clogs in the sink because they clump together when introduced to water. When grounds are poured down the kitchen sink, they stick to the pipes and block the drain. 
  • Pasta and rice. Next, pasta and rice cause clogs in kitchen sinks. When these foods go down the drain, they continuously expand. Like with coffee grounds, pasta and rice react with water to  create a clogged sink. Water causes these carbohydrates to expand to such a large size it causes the drain to clog.
  • Potatoes and beans. Again, potatoes and beans expand to large sizes when exposed to continuous water. With these foods, avoid putting them down the drain because they do cause clogs when left to soak in water. 
  • Eggshells. Though eggshells don’t expand in water like the above. However, they do have a hard time going down the drain. Eggshells get caught on parts of the drain, which causes other food waste to stack on top of the shells.  
  • Grease. Clogged sinks caused by grease usually builds up over time. Because of this, a grease clog seems to come about out of nowhere, but they take time to accumulate. Grease sticks to the sides of your pipes, which keeps other food waste from having a clear path down the drain.
  • Small objects. Sometimes, small objects like jewelry and children’s toys find their way down the drain. When this happens, clogs are inevitable because these items are not meant to travel down drains. The pipes do not accommodate for the shapes and sizes of certain items, which means clogs happen when small objects fall down the drain.
  • Dirt, minerals, and soap. A clogged sink due to dirt, mineral, and soap accumulation appears out of nowhere like with grease. Over time, these substances stick to the sides of the pipes, which causes blockages in the drain. Mineral accumulation stems from the water itself, so avoidance isn’t entirely possible. However, water filtration systems reduce minerals in water and slows the process.
  • Hair. Lastly, hair falls down bathroom sinks more so than kitchen sinks, but still impacts both with clogs. Hair gets stuck in pipes, especially when other substances like grease or hair conditioner are present. Again, these clogs build over time. They are one of the most common causes of a clogged sink, though.

Clogged Sink DIY Solutions

For most homeowners, a clogged sink takes no more than approximately 30 minutes to resolve. However, some homeowners struggle with the best method to remove a clog on their own. There are a selection of methods one uses to get rid of a clog in the sink. These methods require little plumbing knowledge, so any homeowner has the ability to unclog their sink on their own.

 

  • Plunger. Many know the benefits of a plunger for toilet clogs, but a plunger also works well for sink clogs. To fix a clogged sink with a plunger, cover one drain with a wet towel and fill the other sink with a little bit of water. Next, place the plunger on the drain without the towel and plunge for about 20 seconds. Without releasing air into the water, gently let some water down the drain. This pushes the clog down the pipe.
  • Snake or auger. Additionally, a drain snake—also called an auger—effectively removes clogs from the sink. A snake has hooked edges to latch onto the clog. When you pull up the snake, the clog comes with it. If you don’t have a plumbing snake or auger, bend a wire hanger to fit down the drain. Hook the clog with the end and pull it out like with a regular drain snake.
  • Boiling water. Boiling water works well on a clogged sink because it melts part of the blockage. This allows the clog to lose some of the material keeping it lodged in the pipe. Boiling water works well on grease, dirt, and soap clogs because the water melts down these substances, which allows them to slide down the pipe.
  • Vinegar and baking soda. For more difficult sink clogs, create a vinegar and baking soda mixture in the drain. Like with the plunger, cover the second drain with a wet towel to keep the gross stuff from flying out. Next, pour equal parts vinegar and baking soda down the exposed drain. The chemical reaction causes the blockage to disintegrate enough to fall down the pipe. When the reaction completes, flush the drain with boiling water to dislodge any remaining blockages. 
  • Salt and baking soda. This method to clear a clogged sink is similar to vinegar and baking soda because it causes a chemical reaction. However, this reaction must be activated with boiling water. Pour equal amounts of salt and baking soda down the drain, then immediately pour in boiling water. A reaction similar to the bubbling of vinegar and baking soda occurs and the clog becomes dislodged.
  • Run disposal. Another method to unclog a kitchen sink is to run the garbage disposal. Sometimes the clog breaks down with the help of the garbage disposer. Other times, it’s the disposal itself with the clog. Run the disposer in short bursts for a few seconds at a time. This allows the clog to dislodge from the blades and go down the pipe.
  • Drain maintenance. Lastly, practice good drain maintenance to prevent the formation of clogs. Some clogs occur over time, but with proper maintenance the pipes become cleaner overall. Try some of these methods once every few months—particularly the boiling water—to stop clogs before they become too large to handle on your own. Additionally, schedule regular maintenance checks for your entire plumbing system to prevent more severe problems.

 

Homeowners often wonder if chemical cleaners solve a clogged sink. While it seems like a good idea to put chemical clog removers down the drain, these actually cause more harm than good. They do remove clogs, but they hurt your pipes in the process. The harsh chemicals break down the pipes, which leads to leaks or even bursts in extreme cases. Continuous use of chemical cleaners causes irreparable damage to the plumbing system on the whole, so avoid them when clearing your drain on your own.

When to Call a Plumber for a Clogged Sink

Occasionally, a clogged sink needs the expertise of a plumber. When at-home methods don’t work on your clog, it’s time to call a plumber to help with removal. They have different tools than homeowners and diagnose larger problems when they unclog a sink.

 

  •  Deep clogs. Most kitchen and bathroom sink clogs are close to the surface. However, some clogs occur deep within the pipe system. These clogs are more difficult to access, which means most homeowners require the help of a plumber to remove them. For deep clogs, plumbers often use incredibly long snakes unavailable to the public or they use materials only certified plumbers are able to handle.
  • When DIY fails. When your at-home methods don’t unclog the drain, you need a plumber to help remove it. If you have tried all of the above DIY methods and the clog remains, a plumber is your last option.
  • Leaks. A clogged sink occasionally causes leaks in the pipes. This happens because water accumulates in the pipes with no way to leave other than through leaks. If you notice your sink has a clog and there are puddles of water under the pipes, call a plumber to take care of both the clog and the leak.
  • Chronic clogs. If clogs pop up frequently, larger problems are likely at play. To properly diagnose the issue, call a plumber. They look at what causes the clog and why clogs keep coming back. In their visit, they also remove the clog and give you advice about how to prevent future blockages. When they discover the problem, they discuss your options with you and set a plan to resolve the issue. 

 

Williams Comfort Air Solves the Clogged Sink Problem

Problems with sink clogs cause stress on homeowners, but with the tips provided, blockages are no longer an issue. With proper maintenance and waste disposal, clogs decrease in frequency almost immediately. 

When clogs get out of hand, give Williams Comfort Air in Indianapolis, Indiana a call! Our certified plumbers are trained to deal with clogs of all shapes and sizes.

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