For heating & cooling, plumbing, & electrical needs

Find your location


What Should You Do When Your Sink Is Clogged?

Have you ever tried prepping a meal or starting on a big pile of dirty dishes only to find your kitchen sink refusing to drain properly? There isn’t anything quite as frustrating, right? If you’re an Ohio or Indiana homeowner dealing with our notoriously hard water, clogged drains are probably high on your homeowner’s headache list.

However, a clogged sink doesn’t have to bring your whole household to a standstill. In this guide, we’re diving into a full breakdown of sink clogging culprits. We’ll also give you easy DIY remedies to get your drains happily chugging again, such as baking soda mixtures and drain snaking techniques.

But you don’t have to battle against clogged drains alone – we’ll also cover the important signs of a more serious clog that may require a professional plumbing repair team! Although there are a lot of things you can do as a homeowner, there are times when high-powered tools and professional expertise are needed to handle the more stubborn and major blockages.

With all the right information at hand, you can make the best decisions for your home to ensure free-flowing sinks.

Kitchen Sink

Identifying the Problem

You’ve probably tried that sinking feeling when you go to rinse something down the sink and…nothing. The water sits there, stubbornly refusing to go down the drain. You may also have heard some peculiar gurgling noises coming from the drain area. And if that sink starts wafting up some unpleasant odors? Yeah, you sure have a clogged sink problem!

These are some of the obvious signs that something is blocking up your sink’s plumbing and preventing proper drainage. But what causes these obstructions?

Let’s list some of the main culprits:

Food Particles

For kitchen sinks, tiny food particles are the greatest enemies. Little scraps of veggies, bread crumbs, and other meal remnants can easily slip past the drain cover and start accumulating into a nasty clog over time.

Pay attention particularly to rice, pasta, and potatoes as these tend to expand more and more the longer they are exposed to water.

Grease Buildup

Grease and cooking oils are also notorious sink-clogging culprits. They might seem liquid when hot, but they congeal quickly once hitting the colder pipes, trapping other particles.

Tiny Foreign Objects

It’s also shockingly easy for random small household objects to accidentally get flipped down drains too. Little things like jewelry, toys, and even twist ties can provide that initial snag that catches hair, food, and everything else into one big snarled blockage.

Soap Scum and Hair

Bathrooms have their own perfect storm of hairy obstructions and soap scum buildup. All those shed strands love to intertwine and mesh together, while that sticky soap residue basically acts like drain caulk cementing it all into place.

Identifying what type of blockage you’re dealing with is the first step to gaining back a free-flowing sink. This will help you determine what DIY steps to take. But it will also help you assess if the type of clog you’re dealing with is beyond your DIY-prowess to manage.

DIY Actions to Take

Okay, so you’ve identified that your sink is indeed dealing with a clogged drain situation. Don’t just stare at that unmoving water in despair! It’s time to take some immediate action.

Clear the Area

First things first, remove any standing water from the sink basin using a cup or small bucket. Bailing it out prevents overflowing and splashing as you start working on the clog. While you’re at it, clear any items or supplies away from the sink area too to allow full access.

Use a Plunger

One of the quickest ways to try dislodging a clog is with that trusty plunger. But before you start plunging away, make sure you’ve got the right plunger for the job.

For sink drains, opt for a classic cup plunger rather than the wooden stick plungers made for toilets. The cups create a tighter seal around smooth sink drain openings. If you’ve got a double sink, use a plunger cover or stuff a wet rag into the other drain to maximize force.

For best results, fill the sink about 1/4 full with water first. This helps create the ideal air seal for serious plunging power. Coating the rim with a bit of petroleum jelly can enhance that air-tight seal even more.

Then vigorously plunge straight up and down for 15-20 seconds, allowing a break for water to drain before repeating as needed. The key is creating that forceful vacuum pressure to pull on and dislodge the clog.

A couple plunging tips: Brace the plunger against the sink at a slight angle to increase leverage. Let up on the initial few plunges to allow water to drain and add more if needed between cycles.

Common plunging mistakes to avoid? Don’t plunge forcefully down on an empty sink as that can damage pipes. Likewise, don’t plunge too aggressively overall – we’re aiming for firm, controlled plunges rather than full-body slams! Overly aggressive plunging risks cracking pipes or fixtures.

Give the plunger a few cycles of consistent effort. If you’re not seeing any drainage improvement after 5-10 good plunging bursts, it’s likely time to move on to a different clog-busting method.

Boiling Water

Pouring a kettle or two of piping hot water down the drain can help dissolve grease and clear out lingering residue after dislodging the main clog. Just be cautious of any older drain pipes that could potentially crack or warp from intense heat exposure.

Baking Soda and Vinegar

This fizzy drain cleaning combo is a classic homemade clog-busting move. Start by pouring about 1/2 cup baking soda down the drain. Then slowly pour in 1 cup of distilled white vinegar. That chemical reaction will cause a satisfying fizzing and bubbling action! Let it sit and work its magic for 10-15 minutes before flushing it all down with a kettle of boiling water. The foaming baking soda helps dislodge gunk while the vinegar works to dissolve grimy buildup.

If you don’t have vinegar on hand, try using salt and baking soda instead. The abrasive salt granules work with the baking soda to provide a gentle scouring action. Just pour 1/2 cup salt down the drain first, followed by 1/2 cup baking soda, then chase it with a pot of boiling water after letting it sit for a bit.

Another homemade alternative is using enzymes from fresh lemon or orange peels. The acid in the citrus helps break down buildup when combined with baking soda’s power. Simply grind up a handful of peels in the disposal, sprinkle in 1/2 cup baking soda, and let it sit for an hour before flushing with boiling water.

You can even recruit a little help from hungry microbes! Pouring 1/2 cup baking soda down the drain followed by 1 cup very hot vinegar creates the ideal environment for those drain-eating bacteria. Let it bubble for 5-10 minutes before flushing to allow the microbes to chomp away at blockages.

Garbage Disposal Attention

If your clogged kitchen sink has a garbage disposal, don’t overlook giving that a bit of TLC too. Run the disposal while dislodging stuck on debris with a disposer allen wrench or broom handle. Flushing it with boiling water helps rinse out grimy buildup as well.

Plumbing Snake (Drain Auger)

For tougher clogs that won’t budge, it may be time to break out the drain snake. This long, flexible auger cable lets you physically reach down into pipes and dislodge blockages.

There are two main types – manual handheld models and more powerful motor-driven augers. For most sink clogs, a simple hand-cranked 25-foot snake should have enough length and torque. Leave the big electric models to professionals for really stubborn stoppages or accessing main sewer lines.

To use a drain snake safely and effectively:

  1. Protect surfaces by laying down towels around the drain area to catch water/debris
  2. Slowly insert the snake cable into the drain, cranking it steadily to feed the line downward
  3. When you feel resistance, apply firm, even pressure to work through the clog
  4. Once through, rotate the snake several times in each direction to dislodge the clog
  5. Slowly retract the snake, using a plunger or flushing with water to help clear debris

A few tips – lubricate the snake cable with dish soap to help it glide through smoother. Avoid aggressive cranking that could stress pipes. Be extremely careful around toilet drain bends which can easily get snagged. Consider using the right auger attachments like drill bits to bore through tougher clogs.

Most importantly, don’t try snaking past your experience level, especially on curved pipe runs. Cranking too forcefully risks potential pipe punctures, cracks, or getting the snake hopelessly stuck in there. When in doubt, call in a professional plumber who has the tools and training to properly snake drains without damage.

Chemical Drain Cleaners

For real stubborn blockages, chemical drain cleaners may eventually need to be considered, but with extreme caution. Choose an eco-friendly enzyme or bacteria-based cleaner and avoid harsh chemicals. Always follow product safety instructions to the letter. Improper use can actually cause pipe damage, respiratory irritation from fumes, and potential chemical burns. Use cleaners only for short-term clogs, not as a clogged drain band-aid. You might end up with a bigger problem instead!

If you’ve tried all these immediate DIY unclogging methods without success, it may be time to call in a professional plumber. Don’t risk causing bigger headaches by continuing to struggle against an immovable clog.

Preventive Measures for Clog-Free Sinks

While we’ve covered plenty of hands-on methods for dislodging clogs, avoiding them in the first place is even better. A few simple sink maintenance habits can save you tons of time and headaches down the road.

In the Kitchen:

  • Use a drain cover/strainer to catch food particles before they escape down the pipes
  • Scrape dishes well before rinsing to prevent remnants from slipping through
  • Pour leftovers into the trash or compost bin, never down drains
  • Wipe out greasy pans with a paper towel before washing
  • Keep a sealed container handy for proper disposal of cooled fats and oils 
  • Routinely sprinkle some baking soda down the drain and rinse with vinegar

In the Bathroom:

  • Clear hair from the sink area after brushing/styling
  • Use a drain hair catcher or tie a weight to a zip tie to fish out shed strands periodically
  • Swap bar soaps for liquid body washes that produce less sticky scum
  • Do monthly baking soda/vinegar drain cleanse treatments

For All Sinks:

  • Avoid letting anything besides water go down drains when possible
  • Use a drain snake or zip-it tool to help dislodge built-up gunk every few months
  • Do regular hot water flushes to dissolve grease/scum buildup
  • Check under sinks for leak issues that allow debris into pipes

With the Garbage Disposal:

  • Only put appropriate food waste down the disposal
  • Run plenty of water when grinding to flush it all through
  • Do periodic baking soda/vinegar disposer refresh cleanses
  • Use a disposer allen wrench or broom handle to dislodge jam-ups

Addressing Hard Water Issues:

  • Install a water softener system to cut down on mineral buildup in pipes
  • Use de-scaling/de-liming products to regularly flush out hard water deposits
  • Have pipes professionally cleaned periodically to prevent serious calcification

For those of us suffering from high mineral water problems, tackling that issue head-on is crucial for preventing mineral buildup nightmares. A quality water softener system makes a huge difference by filtering out those pesky calcium and limescale culprits.

But you’ll still want to routinely de-scale and de-lime pipes to bust up any accumulation using specialized cleaners. Many plumbers even offer affordable yearly de-scaling service plans to really stay ahead of it all.

Just a small amount of routine drain TLC and mindfulness of what actually goes down there makes a huge difference! Establish these simple preventative habits and those pesky clogs will have a much harder time taking over your sinks.

When to Call a Professional

We’ve covered a ton of DIY tips and tricks for unclogging drains and keeping them happily flowing. But even for the savviest DIY-ers, there comes a point when it’s wise to wave the white flag and call in professional reinforcements. Knowing when to access professional help is key to avoiding very messy, costly situations.

While clogs happen, any drainage issues impacting multiple fixtures should raise an immediate red flag for you. If you’re experiencing slow drains throughout your kitchen and bathrooms, it likely indicates a bigger blockage or venting issue that needs a professional’s assessment. The same goes for any strange gurgling sounds coming from multiple drain areas.

You’ll also want to seek backup if your clog is accompanied by other worrisome signs like water staining on walls/ceilings or persistent foul odors. Those could indicate potential leaks or ventilation problems on top of the clog itself – hazards better left to the pros.

Of course, any clog that simply won’t budge no matter what DIY methods you throw at it is cause for calling in expert help too. Plumbers have access to seriously heavy-duty tools like propane-driven drain snakes and high-pressure water jetters that can power through the nastiest obstructions.

Going head-to-head with a stubborn clog eventually risks doing more harm than good on your own. Between potential pipe damage and making the clog situation even worse by dislodging debris deeper, it’s easy to turn a minor headache into a major repair job without professional-grade gear.

Hiring a qualified plumber with video inspection equipment also allows you to get a clear picture of what you’re even dealing with inside those pipes. That visual intel makes it easier to rule out or properly diagnose bigger concerns like piping damage, root intrusions, mineral buildup, and more.

At the end of the day, plumbers bring decades of experience and training to the task. Not only can they efficiently clear nasty obstructions you struggled with, but they have the insight to prescribe long-term solutions to address the root cause and prevent recurring backups.

So by all means, keep up with all the basic clog prevention and DIY methods that are well within any homeowner’s abilities. But also remain aware of when trying to power through is likely to meet its match. Calling a professional plumber at the right time can ultimately save you tons of mess, aggravation, and expense in the long run!

Reclaim Your Drains: The Ultimate Clogged Sink Solution Guide

There you have it – an armory of drain unclogging information to get rid of those clogged sink woes once and for all! We’ve covered the common culprits behind drainage backups as well as quick DIY methods for dislodging clogs using household products like baking soda and vinegar. With a little preventative sink care habit-building, you can bypass nasty clogs altogether.

But for the inevitable tough cases that push past your limitations, don’t just resign yourself to draining woes. Now you know the signs of when it’s time to call in a drain clog professional for reinforcements. Those experts bring the big plumbing guns like hydro-jetters and video inspections to smash through any sink or tub obstruction.

Why rent an expensive jetting machine or risk damaging pipes when you can hand it off to the certified plumbers at Bassett Services? Our clog-busting pros will have your drains cleared and flowing freely fast – no messes, no stress! Ditch the clogs and draining nightmares once and for all by calling (317) 360-0054 today.

Our Promises