Co-branding Airtasker OneflareCo-branding Airtasker Oneflare
Hero image

Find a local plumber

    How to unblock a sink drain

    Don't allow a clogged drain to affect your kitchen or bathroom duties. Unblock it before it's too late!

    Alex | Oneflare

    If your bathroom sink is blocked, it can cause significant disruptions in your household, especially when many people need to use it. Not only that, but it can also cause water damage, and that can lead to costly repairs. Here are a few suggestions that you can try if you have a blocked bathroom sink.

    Signs your sink drain is blocked.

    Your sink drain will give you a few signs that it is developing a clog long before you have a complete blockage. It is always best to address the issue before more severe problems or leaks occur. If you experience any of these signs, you should take action to correct the situation immediately.

    • A sink draining slowly is usually the first sign
    • An unusual smell from the sink, such as sewage or a rotten smell
    • Unique sounds from pipes, such as bangs, rattles, gurgling, or knocks

    What causes a blocked sink drain?

    Several things can cause your bathroom or kitchen sink to become clogged. Here are a few of the most common causes of a slow draining kitchen sink or a blocked bathroom sink drain.

    • Hair. When we comb our hair, some falls out and goes down the bathroom sink drain. Even if you are not experiencing significant hair loss, this can build up over time and get caught in the trap. The more people in the household who use the sink, the faster this occurs.
    • Dirt. Dirt from our bodies can clog the drain. Also, if you let even small food particles go down the sink when you are washing dishes, it can cause a backup over time.
    • Grease. It would help if you never pour grease down your kitchen sink. As it moves through the pipe, it will solidify and build upon the pipe walls. This will eventually cause a blocked kitchen sink.
    • Poor water flow. If your system does not have adequate water flow, then it will not be able to flush particles from the system properly. This will allow more hair, dirt, and food particles to accumulate faster.
    • Foreign objects. Accidentally letting foreign objects, such as sand when cleaning out a fishbowl, or cat litter can cause a clog as it builds up. It is always best to rinse out these items outside, rather than letting them go down the drain.

    How to unblock a drain?

    The most common method for clearing a blocked kitchen sink drain is with a plunger. This method uses force and pressure to try to break the clog-free and allow it to move through the pipes. Here are the steps to using a sink plunger.

    • 1. Add or remove water. You will need a small amount of water in the sink to make plunging work. You should probably start with about 10 centimetres or so. If the sink is too full, you will need to remove some to prevent water from overflowing onto your floor.
    • 2. Plug and holes or drains. If you have a double sink, use the sink stopper to close one side of the sink.
    • 3. Submerge plunger in water. Place the rubber end of a plain cup plunger into the water right above the drain hole.
    • 4. Clear plunger of air. Tilt the plunger slightly to one side to allow any air to escape.
    • 5. Position and plunge. Make a tight seal around the drain opening. Grab the handle of the plunger and move it up and down forcefully. This will get more difficult as pressure builds up.
    • 6. Release and clear. Hopefully, you will feel something let loose and start flowing. When this happens, you can remove the plunger and run plenty of hot water down the sink to clear it.
    A white double sink basin with water pouring out of each tap.
    An unclogged drain is important to the effectiveness of your home plumbing system / Source: Pn Plumbing And Gas

    Clearing a drain without a plunger

    If you do not have a plunger, there are still some things that you can try to unclog your blocked sink drain.

    • Baking soda. Pouring a simple box of baking soda down the sink can sometimes clear a clog. You might need to allow this to sit in the sink a few hours or overnight to work.
    • Sodium hydroxide. This is known as caustic soda or lye. Be extremely careful when using caustic soda on your pipes. It can cause some nasty burns. Also, it can damage some types of lines, so be sure to read and follow the directions on the package.
    • Bent wire/hanger. If the problem is hair stuck in the trap just below the drain, then using a bent wire of coat hanger with a hook, in the end, can help to fish out the hair and clear the drain. You can also use a coat hanger if the problem is a foreign object.
    • Boiling water. If the problem is grease or another buildup on the sides of the pipe, then pouring boiling water down the drain can clear it in some cases.
    • Vinegar. Vinegar can help to clear grease or other food particles. One popular method is to pour baking soda down the drain first and then follow with vinegar. The fizzing action can remove the clog. You might have to do this several times for it to work.
    • Dish detergent. Pouring straight dish detergent down the sink and allowing it to sit in the sink for a few minutes can clear some clogs, especially if the problem is grease.

    Bathroom sink vs kitchen sink:

    The location of the sink might be a factor in determining which method to try first to unclog a blocked drain. Determining what is causing the clog is the first step in the process.

    • Bathroom sink. Hair and foreign objects are the most common cause of clogs in bathroom sinks. Hair goes down the drain and can cause a clog over time. Also, items are sometimes dropped down the drain when putting on makeup or doing other personal care. In this case, the best-clogged bathroom sink drain solutions are to try to remove the offending object using a bent wire. However, sometimes, a backed-up sink can mean a clogged sewer drain. If both the sink and shower or tub are slow draining, it can be signs of a sewer drain problem.
    Large neutral coloured bathroom with round mirror sink and wall mounted toilet
    Be sure to keep all aspects of your bathroom clean, including the sink / Source: chrome projects
    • Kitchen sink. The most common type of kitchen drain clog involves grease or food particles that have slipped down the drain. For this type of clog, trying to dissolve the offending substance is the best choice. You might try boiling water, baking soda, vinegar, or plain dish soap to clear these types of clogs. It might be noted that some commercial products are available for unclogging sinks. Still, they can damage pipes, so be sure to read the label to make sure that it is safe before using it.
    Large kitchen with island bench, mirrored splashback and timber cabinetry.
    Don’t let a clogged drain affect your kitchen duties / Source: W Plumbing Partners

    Benefits of a hiring a professional plumber

    If you have tried the above solutions and nothing has worked, then it might be time to call in a professional plumber. Here are some of the advantages.

    Contact local plumbing experts

    • Professional. A plumber often knows exactly what the problem is right away. They have the tools and proven methods for taking care of the problem quickly and efficiently.
    • Knowledgeable. A plumber knows the best way to unclog a sink without damaging your pipes or causing water damage to your floors and cabinets.
    • Eliminates smell. Unclogging a sink by yourself can be smelly and messy. A professional can often do it without the odour and mess.
    • Reduces the chance of clogging reoccurring. A professional can often take measures that will prevent the clog from reoccurring. They can also give you valuable advice to help you take better care of your sink in the future.
    • Saves money over time. Unclogging a pipe yourself takes time. Also, a professional can often help you to avoid costly repairs in the future.
    Facebook LikeTwitter

    How much will your job cost?

    The Oneflare Cost Guide Centre is your one-stop shop to help you set your budget; from smaller tasks to larger projects.