A clogged sink can be a nuisance. It reduces the flow of water, and once that happens, things can quickly get messy. Check these quick tips for unblocking your sink with a gentle home-made solution. If that doesn’t help and you are DIY inclined, you may find this relatively easy to fix yourself. If that’s the case, read on for a few steps you can take to try to unclog the sink yourself. And, of course, if you prefer to have a professional handle any drain issues, give us call!
Step One: Prepare the area!
Before you do this it might be a good idea to put a label or tape over the tap — just in case someone comes in during the job, or you get distracted, forget about the open pipe and end up with water all over your bathroom or kitchen floor! The tape is just a reminder to everyone, “work in progress!”
Clear under the sink
You want to remove any products or shelving under the sink, so you have easy access to the pipes. Once you’ve done that, place a washing dish or small bucket under the pipes to prevent any dripping or spilling that might ensue when you unscrew the pipe. Scoop out any water remaining in the sink and dispose of this into a drain that isn’t blocked. Also, fair warning, whenever there’s a clogged sink, there might be a lot of gooey debris — it could be a bit smelly when you open the pipe, and it’s a good idea to wear rubber gloves and goggles/safety glasses if you have them. If you have tried using a chemical product, you will need to be extra careful as any splashes could cause burns.
Understanding the U-Bend
You may already know, but just in case, the purpose of the U-Bend (that squiggly bit of pipe) is to act as a seal. That bend always holds a bit of water, and that water prevents sewerage odours from coming back up through the pipe. Nobody would argue that sewer gases are unpleasant. They smell, and they can be a serious safety hazard as they often release methane. Removing this pipe for a little while is safe provided you keep the bathroom well ventilated with the window open. If for any reason your job has to be halted with nothing to seal the drain, make sure everybody knows to keep the window open.
Most modern U-Bends are plastic and have fasteners to unscrew on either end. To clean it, we first have to detach it from the sink and the drainpipe by unscrewing both ends. Loosen both ends and then try to gently slide the U-bend out from the sink and drain pipe. Be gentle with this. They can be a bit finicky, and if you pull at it too hard, you can damage the threading or the rubber seals which might mean you’d have to replace it.
Step Two: Unclogging Your Clogged Sink
Once you’ve emptied the U-Bend of water, you can look through both ends. This section of pipe (as well as the piece above it connecting your drain to the U-Bend) is where most clogs occur. Even just looking in, you might spot the culprit — just remove any debris and give it a clean with a bit of newspaper or kitchen roll. You may also notice hair and other debris dangling from that piece of pipe still attached to the sink (disgusting!). If this is the case, you may also want to remove the drain cap and use a screwdriver or long tool to carefully push any debris through the pipe and into your dish. You can also use a piece of crumpled up newspaper and push that through with the screwdriver so that it gently scours any remaining debris inside the pipe.
Putting it back together
Make sure the pipe is thoroughly cleaned, especially around the threading. It only takes a little bit of grit or grime to break the seal and cause a leak. So use a rag or bit of old newspaper to clean that. Be careful if there are rubber seals on the ends. Ensure they’re correctly placed — and make sure they don’t slip out of place when you’re screwing the pipes back in. Tighten both ends together, bit by bit, gently and evenly so that there isn’t an imbalance on one side of the pipe. Don’t force anything. If it’s not turning easily, there may be too much pressure on the pipe — or grit blocking the threading.
Test the seals
Once everything is reconnected, it’s best not to assume there’s a good seal! With your bucket still under the pipes, let your tap run for a few minutes. If you no longer have water backing up, you know you’ve fixed the problem (congratulations!). Now just let it run a few minutes longer to ensure water doesn’t drip from the joints. If you’re all clear, you can remove the dish, take off those gloves and pat yourself on the back! If there’s a leak, that’s okay. Just carefully remove the pipe again, check for grit or moved rubber seals (if there are any), and slowly and carefully reattach the pipe — making sure that you’re not forcing it as this can damage the threading.
If you still have a clogged sink, it’s likely something there may be more issues further down the pipe more systemic which may require the help of a professional. If you still have an issue and need advice, you can give us a call. We handle everything from basic unblocking to more complex repair work, including “no-dig drain repair“, which can replace a damaged pipe without ruining your floors. Call us today on 1800 437 246