Having a kitchen sink clog can bring your life to a standstill, but there are various ways to fix it. I remember walking up to my sink one peaceful Sunday morning to be met with stagnant dirty water. My first hunch was to clean the sink drain as it is the most common culprit for a clogged sink. However, to no avail, cleaning the drain did not prove to be a fix.
Dealing with a clogged kitchen sink can be tricky because there can be various causes and locations where a sink can be clogged. The clog can be caused by an object stuck in the pipes or due to waste build-up in the P-trap or drain pipe.
When dealing with a clogged sink, you need to eliminate the possibilities one-by-one to find the root of the problems and then fix it. If the clog isn’t severe, pouring boiling water or a combination of baking soda and white vinegar will solve the problem. But in other cases, you’ll need to get your hands dirty and clean or replace your pipes.
If it does come down to replacing your pipes, consider checking the condition of your sink. An old sink will only lead to more problems and leaks in the future, replacing everything at once will prove to be cost-effective. Click here to learn how to replace your kitchen sink.
Average Cost To Fix Kitchen Sink Clog
Fixing a kitchen sink clog is often an inexpensive task that requires no or limited tools. Depending on the location and severity of the clog the total cost can vary between $20-$100.
The time taken to fix a kitchen clog will depend on the location of the clog. Merely cleaning your sink drain will take a matter of minutes. However, a clog needing the use of a plumber’s snake can take up to an hour to clean thoroughly.
Tools & Material
Fix Kitchen Sink Clog
1. Remove Clogged Water
The primary indicator of a clogged sink will be water being collected in your sink bowl. If you run water and it does not drain, close the faucet and wait for a few minutes. If the water is flowing slowly, let it drain. It might hint to the fact that there is a partial clog.
If the water stagnates and there is no drainage, you need to get your hands dirty. Whip out a pair of rubber gloves and get to work. Using a jug or cup, remove the water from the sink. Additionally, after you have removed all the water, clean the sink drain of waste.
2. Check Garbage Disposer
If you have a garbage disposal, your best bet is to check it for clogs. Plunge your sink to try and remove the clog and force the water into the disposer.
Now, switch on the disposer. If it is clogged, it will make a low humming sound, which indicates that something is disrupting the blades. Switch off the disposer and unplug it. In case you have a dishwasher, remember to block the drain line before plunging the drain.
You can either block the line by tightening it using a clamp. Or detach the line entirely and install a cap on the opening on the top of the garbage disposal. This will prevent dirty water from flowing into the back into the dishwasher cabinet.
The next step is to unclog the disposer using an Allen Wrench manually–
- Insert the wrench into a hole at the bottom of the disposer and start turning. First, turn clockwise and then counterclockwise. You might feel an obstruction and would have to use force to turn the blade. At first, the wrench will only move a small distance, but with persistence, it should start moving freely. Eventually, it will turn complete circles in both directions.
- Locate the overload protector at the bottom of the disposer. It is a red color button that protrudes out if the disposer has overheated.
- Gently press the button. If it does not stay up, wait for ten minutes and try again
Once you have completed all the above steps. Reconnect the disposer and switch it on. The blades should move freely, and your sink should drain freely.
3. Dislodging the kitchen sink clog using a plunger
If your sink still clogs, then it means that your disposer was not the problem, and the clog is present somewhere else. In this case, its plunging time!
Again, remember to clamp the drain hose to prevent water from flowing into the dishwasher cabinet. Also, if you have a double sink, block the opening of the clear sink with a damp cloth or a sink cap to ensure that the water does not flow into that sink when you plunge.
Now let’s get to plunging. You can use a simple plunger with a flat rim to unclog your sink. The rim will create a seal over the sink drain and the pressure created will help to dislodge the clog.
- Firstly, ensure the sink has 1-2 inches of water before covering the sink drain opening with your plunger.
- Make sure that the rim is in constant contact with the sink drain to maintain the pressure. Vigorously plunge up and down maintaining a rhythmic motion.
- Continue this cycle for a couple of minutes. If the clog is dislodged, the water will flow freely, and the sink will drain.
In case the plunging does not work to fix your kitchen sink clog, then you will need to use other methods.
4. Using Boiling Water to fix your kitchen sink clog
If plunging does not work, the alternative is to use boiling water to dissolve to dislodge any clog in the pipes. Remove any water collected in the sink using a cup or jar and then follow these steps –
- Bring a half-gallon of water to a rolling boil over high heat.
- Once the water is boiling remove from the stove and pour directly into the drain in a steady stream.
- The water should begin to drain. In case it does not, let the water sit in the sink until it cools down.
- Remove the water using a cup or jar.
BONUS TIP: If you have PVC pipes, avoid pouring boiling water into your sink drain as it can damage your pipes.
5. Using Baking Soda & White Vinegar to dissolve the kitchen sink clog
A combination of baking soda and white vinegar is a natural remedy to fix a kitchen sink clog.
- Firstly, remove any water in the sink using a cup or jar.
- Now pour one cup of fresh baking soda down the drain along with one cup of white vinegar.
- Cover the drain opening using a cover or rubber stopper.
- Allow the solution to stay in your drain from 15 minutes before you flush your pipes.
- Lastly, remove the drain cover and run hot tap water down the drain to clear the clog.
6. Using Chemicals to fix the kitchen sink clog
If neither plunging nor baking soda helps to unclog your sink, using chemicals might be your last option to fix your kitchen sink clog before opening your pipes.
However, if you have a garbage disposer connected to your sink, do not use any chemicals. They will damage the disposer.
Before buying and using a cleaner, it is essential to observe your blockage. Connecting back to the first step, decipher if you have a partial or complete clog. In case you have a complete clog, refrain from using a chemical cleaner. It could lead to chemicals being collected in the sink along with the water.
Also, the type of cleaner you use will depend on the kind of matter you suspect may be causing the clog. Usually, clogs caused by biological matter require a more acidic cleaner, whereas greasy clogs are better dealt with by using alkaline cleaners.
Always read the label carefully and use the cleaner precisely as instructed. Chemical cleaners can be harmful if misused.
Clean The P-trap
If none of the steps mentioned above proved to be helpful, you would need to clean your P-trap. The P-trap is at the curve of the drainpipe located underneath the sink, usually inside a cabinet.
Before you start, make sure that you have a bucket placed under the P-trap to catch the water that’s present in the pipes. The P-trap has two primary connections, one to the drainpipe coming from the sink and the other, the main drainage pipe located in your wall.
Newer, P-traps are easy to unscrew by hand. However, if you have older P-traps made of steel, use a wrench to detach the connections. Start by removing the slip nut connected to the drainpipe followed by unscrewing the slip nut between the P-trap and the trap arm.
Lastly, unscrew the nut at the bottom on the waste tee to altogether remove the P-trap assembly. Loosen the connections gently to avoid any damage to pipes and other connections.
Remove the collected waste using gloves. It is good practice to wash the pipes with water and soap to ensure they are clean of any residue before you reconnect them.
Once your P-trap is clean, reinstall it. Be mindful of not over-tightening the slip nuts. Test it by running warm water. If the water drains freely, you will have fixed your kitchen sink clog.
If, after cleaning your P-trap, the clog persists, it points to the fact that there is a problem further down the pipes. In that scenario, it is time to bring out the snake!
Snake Your Drain
If you own a plumber’s snake, now is the time to use it to fix your kitchen sink clog. Firstly, loosen the setscrew at the tip of the snake and pull out 6 to 10 inches of the cable. Threading the tip into your main drain line, turn the crank on your snake to steadily push it towards the clog.
As the snake progresses further, you are likely to feel an obstruction. If the cable initially removed isn’t enough, further loosen the setscrew and pull out another 6 to 10in cable and continue to feed the snake down the pipes.
When you feel you have reached the clog, continue to turn the snake. Persistently push the able through the clog, you will feel the tip tear though it. You will know you have reached the end of the clog when the resistance on the cable will reduce.
Turning the crank counterclockwise remove the snake from the drain line. Clean the waste collected by the snake before repeating the procedure once or twice to ensure you remove all of the clog.
Lastly, re-install your P-trap and flush the lines by keeping your faucet open for a couple of minutes.
Wire Coat Hanger – Alternative Plumber’s Snake
If you don’t have a plumbing snake on hand, use a wire coat hanger. It is an inexpensive way to remove your clog. All you need is a wire coat hanger and a pair of pliers.
- Using pliers, unwind the wire looped around the neck of the hook and straighten out the hanger as much as possible.
- Create a small, one-inch-long hook at one end of the wire, which is narrow enough to fit through the drain.
- Insert the hooked end of the wire down the drain until you find the clog. Do not push down too roughly, as this might push the blockage further down the pipe.
- Pull the clog out of your drain and clean the wire. Repeat these steps until you have entirely removed the clog.
- Lastly, re-assemble your P-trap and run hot water from your faucet to check if the pipes are clear.
Avoid Kitchen Sink Clogs
The best way to ensure your pipes are clog-free is taking necessary precautions. All waste reaches the pipes through the sink drain. A clean sink drain is the most effective way of avoiding clogs.
Having a garbage disposer adds a layer of safety to pipes as it can grind solid waste that could potentially clog your pipe into small pieces that will float through. However, it is essential to keep the following points in mind –
- Don’t overload the disposal by grinding no more than 1 cup of food waste at a time.
- Never pour grease, cooking oil, or coffee grounds into the sink. These items can damage the disposer and cause clogs. Collect this waste in disposal containers and dispose of your trash.
- Freeze a mixture of half vinegar and half water into ice cubes and drop them into your disposer. The ground ice and slight acidity will scrape away build-up inside the disposal and the pipes.
- Run hot water for a few minutes after use.
The following items should never be poured down the drain:
- Meat or grease which can thicken and then catch other foods
- Bones from meat and poultry
- Banana peels
- Seeds from fruits such as mangos, plums, peaches, and apricots
- Fruit Scrapes
- Coffee grounds
- Starchy foods – rice, potatoes, pasta
- High fiber foods – certain greens, corn husks, and celery