You’re busy enough already, right? It’s not as if there aren’t a hundred other things to do. It’s after dinner, the dishes are washed, and you’re about to settle in for the evening. But what’s that smell coming from the sink? Why won’t the water drain? You let the water run for a while hoping it will clear. Alas you have one of the most unpleasant of all household repairs on your hands. A blocked sink!
We’ve all seen those annoying advertisements for sink and drain unblocker. Some new miracle product which guarantees to have the solution for you within 10 minutes. The problem with that sort of product if you don’t buy it until you need it, and by then it’s too late. No one prepares for a blocked sink. It just happens.
As you use a sink, dirt and fat from the run of the mill household cleaning builds up over time. The goo and dirt sticks to the insides of your pipe making the drainage hole narrower and narrower. Then one day it just closes and you’re left with the gruesome job of remedying the problem. If you don’t know, or are unsure how to unblock a sink, then follow the helpful instructions below.
Using this method, you won’t just unblock your sink, but you’ll learn how to unblock a sink without a plunger, or any harmful chemicals. In saying that, if you have a plunger, it’s time to dig it out, because it’s about to make life a whole lot easier.
If you have one, it’ll be at the back of an appliance cupboard or lying under a pile of stuff in the shed. It’s no one’s favourite thing, and hopefully you’ve never needed to use it before. But once located, let’s get to work and follow this guide on how to unblock a sink.
If your sink is not draining, locate the plughole with your hands and place the plunger over the plughole making a good seal with the rubber cup. If your sink is very full, you’d be advised to remove some of the water using the basin, a bowl or a pot. Dispose of this water down the toilet.
Once your plunger is located properly of the plug hole and you’re sure you won’t flood the kitchen or bathroom with grey water, hold the plunger firmly and push up and down with a pumping motion. This will force air or water in the pipe backwards and forwards under pressure. If after pumping a few times sink suddenly drains or the sound becomes hollower, you have unblocked the sink.
This is a good time to fill your sink and drain it a few times to check that the pipes are clear. If you’ve been pumping the plunger for an age with no success, it might be time to find a chemical sink unblocker or call on the services of a plumber.
In saying that, it might be possible that you don’t own a plunger and you’re unable to get one. Worry not, there is also advice below on how to unblock a sink without a plunger.
Use pressurised water – Blast the blockage away.
Using water under pressure is one of the best ways to unblock a sink without a plunger. Whatever is causing the blockage might break up and flush away if you give it a good blast.
First find an empty fizzy drinks bottle or milk carton you have about and fill it up with warm water. Next turn the bottle upside down with the nozzle over the mouth of the plug hole. Immediately give the bottle a good hard squeeze making sure you keep it over the plughole. This will force a high-pressure jet of warm water on to the blockage. You may need to do this a few times to unblock the sink.
If you’ve done this a few times with no success, it means the blockage is stuck fast in the pipe and you’ll need to find a way of breaking it down.
Use a chemical sink unblocker.
Earlier in this article we discovered that most people don’t have a chemical sink unblocker lying about the house. If this is indeed the case and you can’t get to the shops to buy one, there are some useful everyday chemicals you may have in the house which will get the job done.
Vinegar and baking soda.
If you have baking soda in the house, add a couple of teaspoons to a cup of vinegar. White vinegar works best, but any vinegar will do. Stir up the mixture quickly and pour it down the sink. Take a couple of minutes to think about why you should buy some sink unblocker to keep in the house the next time you are shopping. After about 5 minutes, pour a kettle of hot water down the sink. Hopefully this will drain away quickly meaning your sink is unblocked and you can get on with your evening.
It might be worth leaving the problem overnight and go back to it in the morning. Take a bottle of bleach and pour some down the plughole just before bedtime. In the morning pour some warm water down the plughole. If it drains away, then it has worked. Otherwise find your rubber gloves – you’re going to need them!
Manually clear the blocked sink.
There’s no other way to put it, this method will undoubtedly be unpleasant. You’ll need a few items before starting.
You’ll need some rubber gloves and some eye protection – especially if you’ve attempted to unblock the sink using bleach or baking soda and vinegar. A mask may be useful to protect you from airborne particles or to guard against the smell. If this is a step too far, use the contact form on our site to get in touch with an expert handyman or plumber who can do this for you.
Fully empty the cupboard below the sink. Then put down some cloths and old towels to catch the mess. It is also a god idea to place a bucket or basin directly below the U bend of your sink to dispose of the blockage and any dirty water which will come out of the pipe. You may be able to loosen the caps from the U-bend pipe by hand. Otherwise you’ll need a pipe wrench to undo them.
Once these are loosened completely, remove the U-bend from the sink and inspect it. The chances are you’ll find the blockage in the bend. This may be full of hardened fat, matted hair and old food. Definitely not something you want to touch or get on your clothing.
If you have an old wire coat hanger, use this to poke the blockage out of the pipe. Do this over the bucket, or even better, find an outside tap you can use to finish the job. Once the blockage is removed, clean the inside and outside of the pipe thoroughly using soapy water.
Reattach the U-bend pipe carefully, making sure to inspect the condition of the rubber seals and ensuring that you screw the caps on to the right thread. Tighten the caps by hand as tightly as you can. If you are using a pope wrench, be very careful not to overtighten the U-bend. You never know – you may have a blockage in future.
What if the blockage wasn’t in the U-bend? I’m afraid it’s time to bite the bullet and get an expert in. Use our online form to book a quality handyman or plumber who will be able to unblock the pipe for you or diagnose any more serious underlying problems.