Having a clogged sink is something that most homeowners face at some point in their lives. It could be caused by something getting stuck in a garbage disposal, grease build-up in the pipes, or by something that shouldn’t have gone down the pipes. If you find yourself with a backed-up sink, don’t despair! Landmark Home Warranty has a few DIY ways you can quickly and easily remove the clog.
First, is the clog in your garbage disposal?
If your garbage disposal isn’t turning, you’ll be able to tell. Instead of making the telltale grinding noise, it will simply hum and then turn off. In this case, the food is most likely stuck in the garbage disposal between the edge of the unit and the grinding flywheel. The machine will automatically turn off to avoid overheating and burning out the motor. You can go to our post on fixing a jammed garbage disposal here to learn how to fix the problem.
If your garbage disposal is audibly grinding, there’s a good chance the blockage has been ground up by the garbage disposal but is residing somewhere lower within the pipes.
How a garbage disposal works is actually quite simple. There is a rotating flywheel that grinds up food by spinning quickly and putting it against the side of the garbage disposal unit. Once your garbage disposal has ground up the food you place inside it, water pushes that food out into the pipes like so:
If you have put something down the drain that tends to clump together – like veggie peelings, or eggshells, they can get stuck, like so:
In either of these cases, to fix the problem, you will have to one of three things:
- Plunge the sink
- Dump a bucket of water
- Take apart your plumbing and physically remove the blockage.
To begin, determine where the blockage is more likely to be.
If you have a two-basin sink and the side without your garbage disposal is flowing freely, then it means the blockage must be stuck in this section of the pipes:
Common blockages for only one side of your sink being clogged are:
If you have a two-basin sink and both sides are clogged, then the clog is most likely in these two places:
The clogs that are most prevalent when both sides of your sink are clogged are:
Plunging a Clogged Sink
If you have a plunger for the sole use of your sink already, use that; however do NOT under any circumstances use a plunger from your bathroom. Plungers are relatively inexpensive and you don’t want to share toilet germs with your kitchen sink.
- If you have two basins, cover the unclogged one with a plate or dishrag while plunging. You don’t want to cause a water spout in your kitchen with the plunger.
- Then, begin to plunge. Try your best at this for around 5 minutes – however, if you feel it is a wasted effort, it may be a better idea to move to the next DIY fix for clogged sinks in this article.
Forcing Clogs Out with Bucket of Water
Next, you can try and force the food blockage out of the drain by dumping a large bucket of water on top of the clogged sink. This works sometimes by pushing the blockage on through the sink using the weight of the water.
If your sink is already too full, do not attempt this DIY fix. If the bucket doesn’t work, it is time to start taking apart the plumbing in the bottom of your sink.
Remove the Sink Clog Manually
First, place a bucket underneath the p trap to catch the water that is inside of your sink.
Turn off the garbage disposal.
If only ONE side of your sink is clogged, try and see if the clog is located in the T-zone of pipes, where the garbage disposal is connected to the second basin’s pipes. To do this, start unscrewing the joint closest to the garbage disposal.
After unscrewing the pipe, gently ease it off, letting the water run into the bucket below.
Use needle nose pliers (or your fingers) to remove the blockage. Throw it away.
It looks like this clog was caused by eggshells.
If you want to clean out the pipes you have removed, make sure to clean them out using the bathroom tub instead after removing the blockages. Remember, if you turn the water on, it will fall straight into the bucket, which could cause flooding.
If both of your basins are flooded, you can start by unscrewing the aforementioned pipes, and then clearing out the p-trap:
(If the p-trap has the clog, you can clear it out now.)
If the clog isn’t in any of the pipes mentioned earlier, you are be better off calling a contractor to come out and look at your pipes.
If you have a home warranty, it does cover your home's internal plumbing system, provided you have maintained it properly and it was in working condition on the effective date of the contract. For more information on plumbing problems and how a home warranty can help go to www.landmarkhw.com/resources/plumbing.