How to Unclog a Kitchen Drain?
A clogged kitchen drain is one of the most common plumbing problems you can face and can cause you a massive inconvenience. As long as you know how to how to unclog the drain, it should no longer be a problem.
Why Do Kitchen Sinks Get Clogged?
The biggest cause for kitchen sink clogs is careless disposal of waste down the drain. Daily use debris like kitchen oils, eggshells, coffee grounds, etc, slowly collects in the drain pipes of the sink and it eventually gets clogged. Meat, foods that have a high starch content like potatoes, pasta, rice, etc, should not be thrown into the sink.
Why You Shouldn’t Use a Drain Cleaner for a Clogged Drain
Drain cleaners should be used to maintain your drain and prevent it from clogging. Drain cleaners can’t unclog your drain. If you use a drain cleaner in a clogged drain, the chemicals as well will get stuck in the drain pipe. This will make it dangerous for you to use a plunger or a drain snake (if required) as the chemicals can cause serious burns if they come in contact with your skin.
11 Hacks to Unclog a Kitchen Drain
You have quite a few options that you can use to unclog a kitchen drain. Depending on how bad the clog is, you will have to pick your mode of unclogging. Sometimes you will have to use a combination of different options as well. Here are 11 ways to clear a clogged drain starting from the simplest solutions for a clog and progressing to slightly more involved solutions to clear heavy stoppages.
Caution: Don’t plunge or snake the drain if you’ve used a drain cleaner. The chemicals could splash on your skin and burn your skin.
1. Plunger and Hot Water
If you have a double sink, stuff the unclogged drain with a washcloth. This ensures that all the pressure is directed towards the clogged drain.
- Fill less than ½ of the sink with hot water. Make sure that the hot water at least crosses the ¼ th mark.
- Position the plunger over the drain and work it up and down quickly
- Pull the plunger off from the drain and check whether the water drains
- Repeat these steps until the clog is removed
If this does not remove the clog, then you need to try a different method.
2. Check the Garbage Disposal
Quite often your sink could get clogged because of a clogged garbage disposer. If it is the side of the sink that has the disposer that is not draining, first use a plunger to remove the clog or force it down the drain. Now turn on the switch to your garbage disposer. If you hear a low humming sound, then it is likely that it is your disposer that’s jammed.
- Switch off your garbage disposal unit and unplug the power cord
- You can clear the clog with the help of an Allen wrench by inserting it into the hole at the bottom of the unit
- Then turn it back on and pour water into your sink to test if it still clogs
- If the disposer doesn’t make any sound when you turn it back on, it is probably because an internal breaker has tripped
- Let the disposer cool for a few minutes, then press the reset button at the bottom on the disposer and turn it on again.
PS: If you have a dishwasher, before plunging the drain, tighten a clamp over the flexible part of the drain line. This won’t let the dirty water flow back into the dishwasher cabinet.
3. Dish Detergent
Just like how dish detergent cleanses the grease off your dishes, it will wash the grease off your drain pipe as well.
- If your sink is clogged, pour ¼ th cup of dish detergent into a 6 cups of hot water and pour it down the drain
- The liquid should act as a lubricant and help break up any greasy residue
- Flush it with hot water and then plunge it
If this doesn’t work, try using salt, baking soda or vinegar.
4. Salt and Boiling Water
Salt can disintegrate substances that cause clogs.
- Wear rubber gloves and empty the water out of your sink using a bowl or a cup
- Pour ½ a cup of salt down the drain. Then pour down a few cups of boiling water and let it sit for a few minutes
- Flush the sink with hot water to clear the mixture
There are a few other combinations like these. You can try any one of them or even all of them if the clog is severe.
5. Salt and Baking Soda
Salt and baking soda, both have the ability to unclog drains by eating into grease deposits.
- After removing the water that has collected in the sink, mix ½ a cup of baking soda with ½ a cup of salt and pour it down the drain
- Let the solution sit for 4-5 hours. Then flush the sink with boiling water
Repeat the process if it doesn’t work the first time.
6. Vinegar and Baking Soda
The combination of baking soda and vinegar can eat into oil and grease deposits.
- Put on a pair of rubber gloves. Use a cup or a bowl to clear the sink from all the excess water and empty it into a bucket
- Push some baking soda, about one cup, into the drain. If it isn’t going down, use a spatula to push it down
- Pour a cup of vinegar into the mouth of the drain, the solution will bubble. When the bubbling subsides, put the stopper in
- Let the solution sit for 15 minutes to work itself on the clog. Then pour a few cups of warm water into the sink to check if the clog has gone
- If the warm water doesn’t work, pour 4-5 cups of hot water down the drain
If the sink is still clogged, follow the same steps once more.
Sometimes waste gets deposited in the trap and this causes a clog.
- Open the cabinet under the sink. Place a bucket under the pipes. This is to prevent causing a mess in case any water drains out of the pipes
- Detach the trap. The trap is the pipe that attaches the vertical pipe from the sink to the horizontal pipe in the wall
- Try unscrewing the PVC pipes with your hands
- If you can’t do it with your bare hands, use a pipe wrench or a channel lock to unscrew it
- First, unscrew the end of the trap that joins the horizontal pipe, then unscrew the end of the trap that is connected to the vertical pipe
- Empty the water from the trap into the bucket that you placed under the sink. Clean the trap by tapping on both side of the ‘U’. You can also use a screwdriver or a metal rod to clean the dirt linings on the walls of the trap
- If your clog is in the trap, reattach the trap and pour hot water into the sink to check if the water drains
If the water still doesn’t drain, use the next method as you now know that the clog is in a more difficult to access part of the drain.
8. Drain Snake, Plumber’s Snake or an Auger
The drain snake is used to clear stubborn clogs that are located further down and are much deeper into the drain pipe.
- Dettach the trap or the P-trap from the drain line
- Insert the plumber’s snake into the stub pipe or the pipe that is horizontally connected to and turn the crank clockwise so that the snake moves into the pipe. You may initially feel slight resistance but it likely that the snake is turning a corner
- When you feel the cable hit an obstruction, continue to turn the snake. The tip of the snake is designed to corkscrew through clogs. When the snake is through the clog (you’ll feel the pressure drop once this happens), turn the crank anti-clockwise
- Keep cleaning the snake with a rag as you pull the clog out
- Don’t forget to keep a bucket under the stub pipe when you start pulling back the snake. Continue doing this until the drain pipe is clear of the entire clog
- Reattach the P-trap
Pour a mixture of ½ a cup baking powder and ½ a cup vinegar down the sink and let it sit for 15 minutes. This should clear fragments of the clog that are left behind. Then flush the sink with hot water.
9. Metal Hanger
You can use a metal hanger instead of a drain snake, if you don’t have one. It definitely isn’t as effective, but it can clean clogs that are slightly into the stub pipe.
- Straighten out a metal hanger
- Insert it into the stub pipe until you push through the clog (if it is close enough to reach)
- Then pull out the hanger along with the clog. Re-attach the p-trap
- Pour 1 cup of baking soda into the sink and follow that by pouring a cup of baking soda
10. Wet Dry Vacuum
A wet and dry shop vacuum can be a great tool to clear/unclog a drain. However, it doesn’t always work.
- Set the machine to vacuum liquids and cover the vent to prevent a mess
- Create a tight seal over the drain. You could use an old plunger head for this purpose
- Put the free end of the plunger over the drain and set the vacuum to the highest setting
- The force of the vacuum will pull the clog up the pipe and into the vacuum bag
This isn’t an assured solution if the clog is positioned deep inside the stub pipe. But it’s definitely a shot worth trying.
11. Caustic Soda
Caustic soda also called Sodium Hydroxide is a chemical that can dissolve glug in the drain pipe. Use this method if you don’t have access to a drain snake and none of the prior methods have worked. This method requires caution.
- Put on a pair of rubber gloves and some eye protection. Caustic soda can cause chemical burns. You will find it in your hardware store
- Pour ¾ th gallon of cold water into a container and add 3 cups of caustic soda into it
- Stir it well with a wooden spoon. It could cause a reaction if you use a spoon made out of some other substance
- The solution will begin to fizz and heat up
- Pour the solution into the clogged drain and let it sit for 20-30 minutes. Then flush the drain with boiling water
How to Maintain Your Kitchen Drain and Prevent Clogs?
Having heard “prevention is better than cure” all through your life, it’s time to put it into practice with your kitchen drain. Clogs can be a nuisance. It takes time to clean a clog, especially if it is deep inside your drain line. The best way to avoid your kitchen drain from clogging is by maintaining it. Follow these four easy maintenance steps to prevent your kitchen drain from clogs.
5 Tips to Maintain Your Kitchen Drain
- Pour a little bleach into your sink every 3-4 months and let it sit for at least an hour (it works better when you leave it overnight) before you let hot water down the drain.
- Once in a while, squirt some dishwashing liquid down your sink and pour a little bit of boiling water down the sink in intervals of 1 minute. This will dissolve grease and oil that is deposited along the walls of the drain.
- Every week, pour boiling water down your drain line
- While running your garbage disposal, pour cold water down the drain. This will freeze the oil and grease and keep them in a solid state in your disposal unit. The solidified oils can be broken down by the disposal machine. This prevents it from lining itself on the walls of your drain line
- You can also use a drain cleaner if the water is draining slowly. There are two types of drain cleaners – liquid drain cleaners and crystal/powder drain cleaners. Put on a pair of goggles and rubber gloves (that go beyond your wrists) and preferably a face mask as well.
- For liquid drain cleaners: Open the bottle carefully. Do not splash or squeeze. Pour the specified amount into the drain and let it sit for up to 30 minutes and then flush it down with hot water
- For crystal/powder drain cleaners: Empty the standing water from the sink with a cup and a bucket. Add 1-3 tablespoons of the drain cleaner into the drain and follow it with one cup of cold water. Let it sit for 30 minutes and then flush it down with cold water.
There’s one other thing apart from maintenance that can help you prevent a clog, and that is to avoid the root cause. Follow these few preventive measures to ensure that your kitchen drain is clog-free.
Preventive Measures to Avoid Clogs in Your Kitchen Drain
- Use a drain-gate to avoid large food particles from flowing down your kitchen sink
- Dispose coffee grounds with your garbage, it’s a big ‘no, no’ for your kitchen sink
- Save kitchen grease in a cardboard milk carton or old can dispose it with your garbage
How a Home Warranty Can Rescue You from Plumbing Issues
A home warranty covers the cost of repairs and replacements of home systems and appliances that happen due to regular wear and tear. Almost all home warranty policies include plumbing related issues. However, the problem should not be caused due to lack of maintenance by the owner. Issues like plumbing stoppages, clogs etc, along with repairs related to other systems and home appliances are covered under home warranty policies. If you have been shelling out a considerable amount of money on the repair work, a home warranty will definitely help you cut down on your costs. However, here are some things that you need to know before you invest in a home warranty policy.
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