Unclogging a Sink for Cheap
How to Unclog a Bathroom Sink
Every sink has a drain trap, and that means every sink will probably get clogged at some point in time. Just like eating an apple a day keeps the doctor away, knowing a couple of techniques can keep the plumber away! In most cases, a clogged sink is due to soap build-up or hair build-up that has been caught in the sink's plumbing trap or fixture drain line.
How to Unclog a Bathroom Sink Drain
Removing sink clogs can be simple if you learn how to deal with them by
- properly using a plunger,
- cleaning and adjusting a pop-up drain stopper,
- removing and cleaning a sink trap,
- or by regularly conducting a "liquid drain cleaner" maintenance plan.
No matter what method for clearing sink clogs works best for you, regular drain maintenance is the ounce of prevention that can bring your plumbing a pound of cure!
Getting to Know Your Under-Sink Assembly Parts
The drain trap holds water for a very specific reason, it seals the drain line and keeps sewer gases from coming into the home. Every time a drain is used, the standing water in the drain elbow gets flushed away and fresh water replaces it. The shape of the trap and fixture have been said to resemble the letter "P," because of this, sink traps sometimes are also called "P-traps."
If you struggle with any of the labeling and or names of the sink's component parts, simply refer to the under-sink assembly pictured here during your plumbing clog repair and maintenance.
What Is a Liquid Drain Maintenance Plan?
Regular drain maintenance helps to keep all of your sink and drain plumbing running smooth and working properly. You can count on reduced (or no) clogs and stopped drains if you do a little preventative maintenance. It's simple and takes only minutes to do. The two important sink clog prevention techniques are; hot water, and liquid drain cleaner.
Hot Water Method:
Simply flush drains with boiling hot water each week to keep them free of soap, grease, debris, and hair.
Liquid Drain Cleaner:
Treat drains every six months with a non-caustic (copper sulfide-based or sodium hydroxide-based) drain cleaner. Using a non-caustic product is important because these will not harm your pipes.
Want to keep nasty stuff (hair and other clogging elements) out of the drain before it can cause a sink pipe to get all clogged-up? Consider putting small screens over the sink drains. They are cheap and you can always find small screen materials at your local Home Center or Hardware Store.
Is Drano considered a pollutant?
"According to the federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, the substance used in Drano (sodium hydroxide) is NOT considered a pollutant. The substance separates into relatively harmless component elements once released into the water or moist soil."
Clear Clogged Sinks Using a Plunger
How to Properly Clear Pop-Up Sink Drains With a Plunger
Two easy, yet important steps are needed for properly using a plunger to clear a sink drain of a clog: remove the stopper, and stuff a rag.
- Step 1: Remove the drain stopper. Some pop-up stoppers lift out easily with no trouble; while others you must turn counterclockwise to remove. On older models, there is a pivot rod (see assembly diagram) that has to be removed in order to free the stopper.
- Step 2: Stuff a wet rag in the sink overflow opening (this is the hole located on the upper-side of the sink wall). The rag will keep the air from breaking the suction created by the plunger. Using petroleum jelly, spread a coating along the plunger cup bottom lip (where it will make contact with the sink, this helps make a super-tight water seal). Place the plunger cup over the drain and run enough water to completely cover the rubber cup. Rapidly thrust the plunger handle up and down, while maintaining contact with the sink, and break up the clog.
Cleaning and Adjusting Pop-up Sink Drains
How Much Does a Leaky Pipe Cost You?
SIZE OF LEAK DIAMETER
GALLONS OF WATER LOSS (DAILY)
GALLONS OF WATER LOSS (YEARLY)
TOTAL COST AT $1.42 (per 1,000 Gal)
TOTAL COST AT $1.91 (per 1,000 Gal)
How to Clean and Adjust a Pop-up Sink Drain Stopper
It takes three simple steps to clean and clear, and also adjust a Pop-up sink drain stopper; raise stopper, remove stopper, and finally adjust clevis.
- You need to raise the stopper lever to its full up-right (closed) position. Unscrew the retaining nut (see diagram) that holds the pivot rod in place. By pulling the pivot rod out of the drain pipe, you will be releasing the stopper.
- Now you remove the stopper. After you have removed the stopper, clean the debris, using a small wire brush. Make sure you look carefully at the gasket to see if there is any wear or damage. If you can see anything that looks like trouble, replace the gasket. Now just simply reinstall the stopper.
- The last step is to adjust the clevis. If the sink isn't draining properly, you will need to adjust the clevis (see diagram). Simply loosen the clevis screw. This allows you to slide the actual clevis plate up or down along the stopper rod to adjust the position of the stopper. Once the stopper is in a spot that completely seals the sink drain, as well as opens it enough so the sink can drain sufficiently, tighten clevis screw in place. You're all done!
Remove and Clean a Sink Trap
How to Remove and Clean a Sink Drain Trap
If you are thinking that only a plumber should mess around with those sink drain traps, you should think again! This is a very easy plumbing project that can save you a couple hundred dollars by doing it yourself. It only takes minutes and two very simple steps; place a bucket, and dump debris.
Note: Slip rings and slip nuts are the same part, just called a slightly different name depending on the plumber you talk to.
- Step 1: Place a bucket under the plumbing trap to catch any water and junk that may be lurking in the trap elbow. Using channel-style pliers, loosen the slip nuts (see diagram) while holding the trap elbow in place. Finish unscrewing the slip nuts by hand and when possible, slide them away from the pipe connections at both ends of the elbow. Carefully wiggle the elbow free to remove it.
- Step 2: Dump out the debris. Poke a small wire brush into the trap elbow to clean it out. Take a look at the trap slip nuts, if you see any wear or damage to them, replace them with new nuts. Once the trap is clear of debris and dirt, reinstall it, and tighten the slip nuts in place. See, now wasn't that a lot less painful than dishing out a couple hundred bucks for a few minutes of a plumber's time?
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
© 2011 India Arnold