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How to Unclog a Kitchen Sink

Do you have a clogged kitchen sink drain and are not sure what to do? Homeowners have used many different methods to remove the clogs in kitchen sinks for years.

Whether on the side with a garbage disposal or the regular sink drain side, some homeowners may use baking soda, boiling water, chemical drains cleaners like Drano, and others to cure the standing water problem from kitchen sink clogs. Sometimes it’s as easy as removing food waste or buildup that has collected in the strainer over the faucet drain, using rubber gloves or pliers to remove the waste. Other times it’s from coffee grounds, egg shells, or orange peels acting as a stopper in the garbage disposal to having a clog in the PVC pipes p-trap, which may require a plumber’s snake/drain snake to clear that clog and getting the cold and hot water draining again.

With a few affordable tools and some hands-on practice, you should be able to clear up even the most difficult and stubborn clogs. To begin, you’ll need a plunger (the one with the larger rubber bell that looks like a toilet plunger) and a snake, also known as a hand auger.

Snakes vary in length and price, but we recommend the 3/8 inch model that is about 20 feet long. You can buy these at your local hardware store or home center. If a drain snake is completely unavailable to you, a wire coat hanger will work for a pinch. You will also need a bucket, rubber gloves, and a working flashlight.

Sometimes the most common signs of a clogged drain may not even indicate an actual clog. Whether your drains are slow to drain, making gurgling noises, or producing bad odors, a clogged drain may not be the culprit. If you have experience with home improvement or have some general plumbing knowledge, then try this highly recommended technique for clearing drains first if you suspect a clogged drain.

1. Check the Clogged Drain Before you Begin Plunging.

A clogged garbage disposal is a major cause of clogged drains with a double kitchen sink. If the water on one or both sides of the sink is not draining, plunge it to clear the clog and open the drain.

If you turn on the disposal and you hear a humming sound, the unit is most likely jammed. First, turn it off and then unplug the disposal. Clean out any food particles or food scraps from the sink so you have a clean surface. Afterward, you should be able to free it by moving the blades manually. You can do this by inserting an Allen wrench. Place the wrench into the hole at the bottom of the unit.

If the garbage disposal is not making any noise when you turn it on, this may mean that the internal breaker has probably tripped. If this is the case, let the unit cool off for a minute and then press the reset button on the bottom of the unit. Next, turn it on again.

If you have a dishwasher, you’ll need to plunge the drain. But first, tighten the clamp that’s over the drain line’s flexible part line before doing so. By doing this, you are preventing dirty water from going back into your dishwasher.

2. Clear the Clog with a Plunger.

If the issue is not with the garbage disposal, try plunging the kitchen drain. If you have a dishwasher, don’t forget to clamp the drain hose first before plunging it. Then, fill the sink with about 3 or 4 inches of water, so the plunger seals around the drain.

Hold a rag tightly on the other side of the drain opening if you have a double sink, or seal it with the basket strainer. Then, plunge vigorously for about 20 seconds. If the water doesn’t clear into the drain, keep plunging for another minute.

If there is still a drain clog after a few minutes of vigorous plunging, then it’s time to move to use a drain snake to clear the kitchen drain.

3. Using a Drain Snake.

To begin, thread the tip of the snake into the drain stub-out. Turn the crank clockwise and feed it into the drain pipe. You may feel a block, but this is likely the snake turning a corner. Continue feeding the snake into the line.

If the cable has run into an obstruction, keep pushing the cable through until the tip bites through. When you pull out the cable, it will be covered in dirty gunk, so clean it as you pull it out. Since you may get a large plug of sludge at the end of the snake, be sure to have a bucket handy.

Repeat these steps until you don’t feel the blockage any longer. After reassembling the trap, run plenty of warm water to flush out the line.

Once the drain is clear, pour a mixture of 1/2 cup of white vinegar and 1/2 cup of baking soda down the drain. The cup of vinegar will act as a deodorizer and helps activate the baking soda, which causes a fizzy solution that helps break down and further gunk. You’ll want to close both of the openings (for double sinks) and let the solution sit for five minutes. Then, run a gallon or so of warm water down the drain to flush the sink.

The baking soda and vinegar can dissolve the leftover fat deposits and leave the drain smelling better.

Stay Away from Chemical Drain Cleaner Use

Unfortunately, most homeowners may not have much home improvement experience or plumbing system knowledge, which is okay and pretty common. What’s unfortunate is the number of homeowners that use a chemical drain cleaner as their go-to drain cleaning method. 

Most plumbing experts recommend that Chemical drain cleaners cause more harm to your plumbing system than good. Even though it’s advertised and marketed as a “plumber in a bottle,” it uses harmful chemicals that can wear down your water drains and even produces dangerous fumes/gases if inhaled. Chemical drain cleaners were common for many homeowners growing up, but there are now more popular natural and mechanical drain cleaners that can be used instead of a chemical drain cleaner.  

As a homeowner, it’s best to have the know-how to use a natural or mechanical solution to drain cleaning rather than chemical usage. Natural drain cleaning involves using vinegar and baking soda, while mechanical drain cleaning involves plungers and drain snakes.

Stay Away from Chemical Drain Cleaner Use

There’s nothing wrong with needing help unclogging your kitchen sink, bathroom sink, or shower drain. There’s a reason plumbing is considered an essential industry. DIY plumbing projects aren’t for everyone. After you’ve done everything you could and you still have a stubborn clog or other plumbing issues, pick up the phone and call the professionals. Professional plumbers have the experience, knowledge, and skill set to handle stubborn clogs and provide any necessary drain cleaning for your plumbing system needs.

When it’s time to call professional plumbers for your plumbing issue, our Kansas City plumbers at A-1 Sewer & Septic Service Inc. are ready to help!

A-1 Sewer & Septic Services offers drain cleaning, water heater, septic tank, and everyday plumbing services.

Contact us today to schedule your service appointment!