A Clogged Kitchen Sink: How to Clean it Yourself

No matter how many preventative measures you take to ensure your kitchen sink drain won’t clog, it can still happen. The best thing to do is to prevent it from clogging in the first place. But if your drain does get clogged, there is an important distinction to make. Is your garbage disposal working? This will help you determine if the clog is stemming from a problem with the disposal or if it’s because of a clog in your drain and/or drain pipe. Is the clog only on one side of the kitchen sink? Have the blades in your disposal stopped spinning? If you answered yes to either of these questions, read how to fix your disposal first. If not, let’s clean that kitchen sink drain!

There are several tools you can use at home to clear that kitchen sink drain and get your water flowing again.  Let’s start with the tool most commonly found in our homes, the trusty plunger! A plunger is a precision instrument wielded only by the most adept practitioners to ever grace the planet. Ok, maybe we’re a bit biased here, but there are a few fine points to consider before using a plunger on your kitchen sink.

Plunger Instructions: 

  1. Remove the strainers from the sink.
  2. Run 3-4 inches of water into your sink.
  3. Put the plunger on the drain opening that doesn’t have the disposal. Tilt it before pressing against the drain to ensure water gets inside the plunger then press it tight against the drain opening.
  4. Press the plunger straight up and down 15-20 times, then remove it quickly to give it one last burst of pressure. Think of the money you will save if you clear the clog yourself. Expect an instant increase in intensity.
  5. Try this process 3-4 times. If it doesn’t work, another method will need to be applied.

Ok, you gave it your best shot but weren’t able to clear the drain with a plunger. Now what? Don’t give up! There is another method you can try. The next step is to remove the trap underneath the sink and attempt to clean the drain pipe manually. This sounds intimidating, but you can do this! You’re going to need a few tools, roughly an hour of time, and some good old-fashioned grit.

 Tools:

  1. Crescent wrench or channel locks
  2. Small pail or bucket
  3. Handheld drain auger or snake
  4. Rubber Gloves

Steps:

  1. Use a cup or bowl to get any backed up water out of your sink. This water can be flushed down your toilet upon removal.
  2. Put a bucket under your trap before you start to open it to catch any water that will come out of the trap when you remove it.
  3. Use the crescent wrench or channel locks to loosen both of the nuts on either side of the trap. Be prepared for water to come out as you undo these nuts. Once these nuts are loosened enough, they can be fully unscrewed by hand.
  4. Dump the contents of the trap into the bucket. If there is a lot of buildup in the trap, dump a cup of water through it over the bucket. If that doesn’t work, you can put the drain snake or a clothes-hanger through the trap to remove the chunks and buildup. Also clean out the section of pipe leading up to the sink if needed.
  5. Remove the nut on the pipe section attached to the wall and pull that section of pipe out. This will expose the opening to the actual drain pipe that heads down to your main sewer line.
  6. Insert the drain snake into this opening, rotating it while slowly pushing it farther down the drain pipe. Once you reach the end of the snake, pull it back slowly while still rotating it.
  7. Re-assemble the trap in the reverse of the order you took it apart. If you’re having trouble, check the plastic/rubber gaskets (washers) underneath the nuts and make sure they’re in the proper position to line up all the sections. Make sure everything is tight.
  8. Test the drain!

We hope that helped. If your drain works now, pat yourself on the back. If it isn’t working, pat yourself on the back anyway because you learned something new! Drains don’t always clear out so easily. In those situations, it is best to contact your local Benjamin Franklin Plumbing location. We’ll get that cleared up and get your water flowing! Call us today at 952-933-8888.

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