Unblocking a kitchen sink drain is often easier than some people think. Although if your kitchen sink drain runs under the house to the other side, you will need the drain specialise with hydro jetting equipment. The drain can often be up to 15 meters in length and the blockage can be hard like a bar of soap.
Some blockages can be resolved by employing some relatively simple and straightforward techniques and tools. Once you have unblocked the sink, it is then time to work on minimising the changes of the problem reoccurring.
How to unblock a sink
Use a plunger to dislodge the blockage.
Clean the P-trap.
Use a plumber’s snake.
Call a drain specialist
Unblocking a kitchen sink drain can require a combination of more than one of these methods.
Most of my suggestions are relatively cheap or cost nothing – they use tools and materials you should already have in your house. Below, I will go into more detail about each method.
Use a Plunger
You are better off using a flat-bottomed plunger for this job.
Run a little water into the sink to aid the suction and begin plunging. Ensure you keep the plunger under the water level as you plunge, this will increase the pressure and do a better job.
Run some water into the sink. If it drains okay, then you’re all set. If it doesn’t run then you will have to try to plunge some more or move onto another method.
Clean the P-trap
The P-trap is the elbow-shaped pipe under the sink. If this gets blocked with food and/or grease, then you may want to take it apart and clean out the scraps that are causing the blockage.
Before you start, make sure that you have a bucket placed under the P-trap to catch the water that is backed up in your sink. You will then need to unscrew the connections to the pipe and wall. Remove the P-trap and inspect it for debris. If the blockage is not in the P-trap, then you will need to try either plunging or you may need to use a plumber’s snake to get rid of the blockage.
This tool consists of a coiled spiral snake, typically around 1/4-inch thick, with a handle at one end. The coil is used to reach down into the drain, and then the handle is cranked, dislodging and pulling up the clog. Some snakes are manually cranked, while others are electrically powered for extra strength.
You can use a wire coat hanger if you don’t have a snake.
If you don’t have a plumbing snake on hand, you can also use a wire coat hanger to fish out the clog. This is a cheap, easy method that almost anyone can do – all you need is a wire coat hanger and a pair of pliers.
If you try this trick and fail to find the blockage, it could be that the blockage is further down the drain than the wire is able to reach.
Use baking soda and vinegar
This method avoids the use of chemical cleaners. All you need is one cup of baking soda and one cup of vinegar.
First, pour boiling water down the drain. Then push the baking soda down the sink drain, using a spatula if necessary. Allow it to sit for 5 to 10 minutes.
Next, pour vinegar into the drain. Put the stopper into the sink, pushing the vinegar toward the clog and blocking off the mixture from coming back up.
Finally, flush the drain with boiling water again.
If none of the above methods work, or the drain runs under the house to the other side, you will need a drain specialist and a hydro drain jetter. The high pressure water produced by the drain jetter unblocks the drain and completely dissolves the fat and grease inside the drain.