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How To Unclog a Kitchen Sink With Standing WaterMarch 3rd, 2023 by
Clogged drains can be a nuisance, especially when it comes to the kitchen sink. A double kitchen sink with standing water can be a frustrating sight, but with the right tools and a bit of know-how, you can get the water flowing again. Whether it’s a simple clog or a more stubborn blockage, unclogging a kitchen sink drain is easier than you may think. Keep reading for some simple, step-by-step instructions on how to unclog your kitchen sink drain and get your kitchen back to normal.
How To Unclog a Kitchen Sink
Tools & Supplies:
- Rubber gloves (optional)
- Cup or bowl
- Wet-dry vacuum (optional)
- Bell plunger
- Baking Soda
- 8 quart pot or larger (for boiling water)
- Adjustable wrench
- Wire coat hanger
- Drain snake
1. Run the Garbage Disposal
Start by switching on your garbage disposal. While it won’t fix the clog, the spinning action creates suction that can help drain the sink faster.
Depending on the clog, it can take a few seconds for the water to start draining. If the water level hasn’t changed after a minute and a half, it probably isn’t going to work.
2. Bail Out the Sink
If the garbage disposal doesn’t get rid of the water, use a cup or a bowl to remove as much water as possible.
However, do not pour the water down another drain until you know the cause of the clog. Instead, pour it into a bucket. Then dump the buck outside.
Alternatively, you can use a wet-dry shop-style vacuum to suck out the standing water.
3. Plunge the Sink
Next, use a bell plunger with a flange to dislodge the clog. The flange extends down into the drain for a better seal. This increases the pressure and helps push clogs down the drain.
With one to two inches of water in the sink, make sure the plunger flange is completely inside the sink drain. Then use steady and even strokes to unclog the drain. For an even better seal, put petroleum jelly around the plunger lip first.
If you have a double sink, cover the drain with a tight-fitting drain plug or stopper. Otherwise, you will force water out of that sink. Because of the pressure, it will shoot or even explode out of the drain in the other sink.
4. Clean the Drain
If it drains after plunging, remove the rubber splash guard and clean the drain. Use a flashlight to look for debris and pull it out with pliers.
Then pour in a cup of baking soda, followed by a cup of white vinegar. The foaming action is most powerful in the drain and p-trap. However, it can clear clogs further down the drain pipes, too.
Wait 30 minutes before continuing. Then bring at least 8 quarts of water to a boil and carefully pour it down the drain to clear the pipes.
Skip this step if the sink does not drain after plugging.
5. Check the Sink Trap for Clogs
If the plunger didn’t work, try clearing the drain trap below the sink. Most kitchen sinks have an s-trap, which makes sort of an s-shaped connection between the sink and the drain pipe that runs through the bottom of the cabinet. However, some older styles may use a p-trap that connects to the wall.
Place a bucket under the trap, then carefully unscrew it. Most traps are only hand-tightened, but use a wrench if necessary. As soon as you loosen the treads, the remaining water will pour out of the sink.
Once the trap is free, clear any clog with a wire coathanger. Straighten out the triangle part of the hanger, then bend the hook end together until it fits in the drain pipe.
Feed it into the trap to snag any clogs. Repeat this with the drain pipe coming out of the sink and then the pipe going out to the sewer. Then pour a small amount of water into the pipe that goes into the floor or wall.
If it drains free, you can skip step 6. Otherwise, continue on to unclog your kitchen sink drain.
6. Clear Pipes With a Drain Snake
Then use a drain snake to break up clogs in the drain pipe. Feel the auger into the drain pipe, then slowly crank it out. The coil will move smoothly down the drain until it hits the clog.
Once you feel resistance, crank it out a little further. Grab the coil and push it downwards into the drain to snag the clog. Then slowly pull the coil out of the pipe. Pull a few feet or two of the coil out at a time, then wind it back up.
This will keep the clog on the end of the snake and keep it from falling back into the drain pipe.
7. Reassemble the Sink
After removing the kitchen sink clog, reassemble the drain trap. As you hand tighten the connections, the compression washers will form a tight seal. With a bucket under the trap, run the water to check the sink trap for leaks. Tighten the trap if necessary.
8. Flush the Kitchen Drain
Now that you have unclogged your kitchen sink, flush it with a cup of vinegar and baking soda. Wait for half an hour, then pour at least 8 quarts of boiling water down the drain to flush the pipes. This will help remove anything left in the pipes and also prevent future clogs.
What Are the Most Common Causes of Kitchen Sink Drain Clogs?
From food scraps to coffee grounds and grease, almost anything that goes down your drain can clog your kitchen sink. The most common causes of kitchen sink drain clogs are:
- Grease and oil buildup
- Food particles and scraps
- Hair and soap scum
- Foreign objects, such as utensils, toys, or jewelry
- Buildup of mineral deposits
- Tree roots infiltrating pipes
- Aging and damaged pipes
Each of these factors can contribute to clogs in the kitchen sink drain, and it’s important to address the issue as soon as possible to prevent further blockages and potential water damage.
How to prevent clogs in the kitchen sink
To prevent future clogs, it’s important to practice good habits in the kitchen. Don’t pour grease, oil, or coffee grounds down the drain. Always use a strainer to catch food particles and other debris, even if you have a garbage disposal.
You can also flush your pipes with hot water every month or so to help keep them clear. Turn on the hot water and let it run for 5 minutes to help rinse your drain. If you have a double kitchen sink, remember to flush both sides.
If you have an older home, have your drain pipes and sewer lines inspected by a professional plumber every three to five years. They can detect tree roots and other damage to prevent clogs and sewage backups.
Can You Use Chemical Drain Cleaners To Unclog a Kitchen Sink?
Liquid drain cleaners are marketed as fast, easy solutions to unclogging your kitchen sink. While they might work, they are only effective if they reach the clog. The longer they have to travel to the clog, the less effective they are.
They use harsh or even toxic chemicals that dissolve most clogs. However, they will also dissolve your pipes too. This is especially true of modern PVC pipes. Using drain chemicals regularly will significantly reduce how long your drain pipes last.
Not to mention, they can be extremely dangerous to your skin, eyes, nose, and mouth. Always take the proper precautions when attempting to unclog a kitchen sink with liquid drain cleaners.
Read the label carefully and follow all safety instructions. When using the chemicals, wear long sleeves, protective gloves, and a face shield while pouring them into the drain to prevent injury.
Also, you should never mix chemical cleaners. They can create dangerous reactions or even toxic gases.