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How to fix a clogged sink or drain

Friday, April 22, 2016

Your bathroom or kitchen sink is clogged. Now what? You can panic, pull out your hair, call your handyman neighbor, scream, get down to business, or call a plumbing pro.

If you decide to Do-It-Yourself

We recommend that you do not use harsh chemicals to try and clear the clog in your kitchen sink or bathroom sink. These types of products have the potential to damage your pipes.

If you look under the sink, you will notice a pipe with a “U” shape part to it. This pipe is connected to the vertical pipe that runs from sink and to the horizontal pipe that goes into the wall. This pipe with a “U” is called a P-trap, because it traps a small amount of water in it. This water creates a barrier that prevents sewer gas and nasty smells from running back into your house.

Over time it also traps soap, grease, food, hair and foreign objects. (This is both a blessing and a curse. It is a curse when it clogs, but it can be a blessing if a valuable such as a ring has gone down the drain. That ring very likely can be saved in the trap if water is prevented from going down the drain.) The clog in your kitchen sink will also include food particles, whereas the clog in your bathroom sink most likely will include hair.

Try using a plunger first.If the clog isn’t too far down in the pipes or in the sewer line, you may be able to break it up. Put a little effort into it, and you may be surprised that it works.

If that doesn’t work and you are so inclined, you can go out and buy an auger, otherwise known to DIY-ers everywhere as a snake. You insert this into a drain and churn away. Always read the instructions. You will burn a few calories.

If you are adventurous, and don’t mind the gunk and the stink, you can also remove and clean the P-trap. You will need to place a bucket underneath the P-trap before you remove the nuts that connect it, because this can be messy. Whatever water and gunk is in the drain will gush out. Since the drain-pipes are not under pressure, you may be able to loosen the nuts by hand.

If these work, open a bottle of wine and celebrate your success. Or if you want to avoid the hassle, give us a call and we’ll connect you to a licensed professional plumber who’ll do all the dirty work. And you can still enjoy the wine later.

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