Unblocking sinks

 When faced with unblocking sinks or other waste pipes in your building your first thought could be to employ a professional tradesman. But before you do it could be well worth attempting to clear the problem yourself.

 As your sinks are used on a regular basis throughout the day it is important to unclog the pipes quickly. It could well be that dealing with this problem yourself will be much quicker than seeking a tradesman and waiting for him to arrive.


 The charge for calling out a professional plumber could be off-putting for many and could make a large dent in your household budget. Before you incur this charge, check out whether this is a problem that you can deal with yourself.

 These are some things to look for when unblocking sinks.

External Grids - When dealing with unblocking sinks in the kitchen, the main reason for blockages is usually a build up of food items or grease.

 So check the outside grids to see if there has been a build up between the grid and the bottom of your outlet pipe. Sometimes grass or weeds can grow up and block these pipes.

 On other occasions the wind could have blown some other form of debris into a position that blocks the free flow of the outlet pipe.

Liquid Drain Cleaner - If this is not the case then one of the easiest ways to start is to purchase a liquid drain cleaner.

 There are several brands and strengths available, so read the labels carefully and choose one that fits your particular situation.

  • Pour the liquid cleaner into the drain,
  • then top up the drain from your taps,
  • so that there is a good weight of water above the blockage.

 If you are lucky then after an hour or so the blockage will be digested and the weight of the water will push the remaining debris completely out of the drain.

 If using liquid drain cleaner is not effective, the next technique to try is a snake.

Pipe Snake - This is a device that is wound down into the drain to unblock any debris that may be stuck in there.

 If you do not have one of these devices sometimes an old metal coat hanger can be unravelled and used to good effect. It is important that there is sufficient weight of water still in the sink, as when you manage to loosen enough of the blockage this water will purge the pipes of the remaining debris.

 If at all possible, attempt to pull the items up to the top of the drain and remove it, rather than pushing it further into the pipes. Try to use snakes that are made for the particular type of pipes that you have in your building.

Sink Plunger - The other method that I have used is to make use of a plunger.

  • This is placed over the plug-hole
  • a pumping action forces water downwards into the pipes
  • then suction pulls the water back out of the pipes.

This technique can unblock sinks fairly quickly when there is not a great deal of debris stuck in the pipes.

 If these methods do not unclog your sink, then you may need to call in a plumber. Before you do that, though, there is still one more thing you can try.

U Bend Clearing - Under most sinks there is a u bend of pipe and it is here that on most occasions the blockage will be.

 Here in the U.K. in modern houses the pipework tends to be plastic, and in this area, can be held in place by a screw threaded tightner.

 So it could be as simple as untightening this piece to provide access to this u bend and unblocking sinks that are clogged.

 Before attempting this, remember that the debris and water could well spew out, so to the best of your ability, prepare yourself and your surroundings for this.

  • A bucket or similar container to protect your suroundings
  • water proof work clothes to protect yourself.

 If it is not as simple as I have described, then you will need specific tools for un-doing these pipes. These tools for unblocking sinks can be expensive if you do not already have them. It could be worth asking friends or neighbours to see if they have the relevant tools.

 If you locate the blockage after taking these pipes apart, take this opportunity to clean them, removing any grease and smaller particles of food and anything else that could cause further problems in the future.

Preventative maintenance -  If the blockage is in your bathroom,the problem is liable to be caused by hair or styling products. Shaving foam coats the pipes, as do a number of modern products.

  •  So using liquid drain cleaners as regular preventative maintenance is a way of ensuring that your bathroom pipework stays clean and clear.
  •  A short period of use of the sink plunger can also keep the pipes clear.

 If you are unsuccessful at unblocking your sinks with these techniques, the time has come to contact the professional plumber.


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