How to Fix a Stuck Sink Drain

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It may take a bit of time and effort to unclog a sink drain.
It may take a bit of time and effort to unclog a sink drain. (Image: Jupiterimages/Creatas/Getty Images)

Everyone is faced with a clogged sink drain at one time or another. Hair, soap scum, cosmetics and other debris can combine into a greasy solid that can get stuck in your sink drain, stopping the flow of water. When this occurs, you should assemble your equipment and get to work to remove the clog and get the drain running freely. A small, simple clog may take just a few minutes. More serious clogs will require some time and effort to remove.

Things You'll Need

  • Plunger
  • Drain snake or auger, 3/8-inch diameter
  • Pipe wrench
  • Hooked piece of wire
  • Bucket
  • Cloths
  • Baking soda
  • Vinegar
  • Rubber gloves

Run water in the sink so a couple of inches of water is in the sink. Set the plunger lip around the rim of the drain firmly. Add water, if necessary, so the cup of the plunger is covered with water. This technique allows hydraulic pressure to force the clog free.

Pump the plunger up and down until suction is created. Continue pumping.

Pull the plunger off the drain, breaking the suction and allowing the clog to break free.

Repeat working the plunger in this manner to free the clog.

Remove the P-trap if the clog is far enough down the drain pipe that the plunger suction cannot reach. Do this by unscrewing the slip-nut with your hand or with a pipe wrench, then wiggling the trap until it comes apart. Pour the excess water in the trap into the bucket.

Inspect the P-trap for clogs or debris. Remove grease and other materials from the pipe.

Insert the hooked wire into the upper section of the pipe that connects to the sink to check if it is open and free of material that may have stuck to the walls. Remove any debris along the walls.

Check the lower pipe in the same manner for clogs or grease buildup. Remove the material if necessary.

Insert the drain snake into the lower end of the pipe. Tighten the set screw and turn the crank handle. This will allow a longer piece of the snake to move through the pipe, pushing through any clogged material it finds along the way.

Remove the snake from the drain and clean it.

Replace the P-trap and screw the slip-nut into place. Tighten securely.

Run ½ cup of baking soda and ½ cup of vinegar into the drain to remove any leftover grease and debris.

Tips & Warnings

  • You can remove a small clog with chemical drain cleaner like Drano. If a small amount does not open the drain completely, stop using the chemical, flush as well as you can and go to other methods.
  • Work the plunger vigorously, making sure you have good contact with the drain rim.
  • If you hit resistance when snaking the drain, continue cranking until you break through the clog, according to Family Handyman. Then, remove the snake by cranking counterclockwise. Clean the snake thoroughly to remove debris.
  • Do not use a plunger or drain snake on a drain if you have put drain cleaner in it that has not flowed down freely. The action of plunging or snaking can splash caustic chemicals onto eyes and skin.
  • When using chemical drain openers on a stuck sink drain, avoid breathing the hazardous fumes that the chemicals give off when used. Use only in a well-ventilated area.

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