We have all been there at some point; the slow draining sink, the gurgling sounds and the god-awful smell! It’s no surprise some people are forced to leave their homes while the professionals fix the blockage.
No household plumbing issue is more common and persistent than drain clogging, whether it is in the sink or the bath. As a matter of fact, the chances are that you will have to deal with a clogged sink or shower drain in your bath at least once a year.
Fortunately, you can handle some of these incidents yourself, especially if they are in the early stages. However, when they become severe, it’s time to call the experts.
This post will help you resolve your blocked bathroom sink problems DIY style. But before we do so, here are some common reasons for sink blockages.
A clog is a build-up ‘debris’ in the drain pipes. It can occur in the siphon or lateral areas of the pipe and can be difficult to remove.
Common causes of a blocked bathroom sink
There’s no bigger culprit for sink blockages than hair. The tangled pieces often get caught in the pipe linings, especially the p-trap (that curved pipe joint under the sink) and begin to build up. Sometimes, the hairs form a thick knotty mass that is difficult to rid of with a plunger. Professional plumbers usually have to use motorized drain snakes to pull out hair clogs.
- Soap scum
How many times have you tried to rescue that last bit of soap from going down the drain pipe? In addition to that, the suds form a thick substance after a prolonged period and make it hard for water to flow through. Not only does soap scum lead to a drain blockage, it also creates acidic substances that break down the inner lining of the pipes and cost you money on repairs.
- Dead skin cells
Every time we take a shower, we lose bits of our outer skin cells. This exfoliatedpart of the skin doesn’t break down easily and can merge with scum and hair to make an even harder mass in the pipes. Over time, there’ll be friction to water flow and a blocked sink will ensue.
- Small objects
If you have kids, this is more than likely to occur. I have seen objects like Q-tips and cotton-buds trapped in the sink. Many of these objects are not soluble and will only collect in a section of the pipe causing blockage.
Before proceeding to how we can prevent this. Here are some natural ways to correct your blocked sinks.
How to unblock your bathroom sink
You can choose to do this naturally or manually with some tools. Under no circumstance should you pour industrial chemical cleaners into your sink. The chemicals are acidic and can destroy drain pipes. But that’s not all, they create noxious fumes which can pose severe health risks.
- The natural way
To do this, you’ll need: ½ cup of baking soda, ½ cup of vinegar and lemon juice (optional). The only tool you’ll need for this is a measuring cup.
Start by removing the sink drain cover. Most drain covers thread into the drain, so unscrew it by turning it anticlockwise.
Measure out ½ cup of baking soda, dump it down the sink drain. Make sure you get as much of it into the drain hole.
Measure out ½ cup of white vinegar (distilled) and pour it into the drain, after the baking soda. What you see next may remind you of a scene from a scary movie, sans the dirty murky water.
The mixture will bubble and fizzle, and dissolve what’s causing the obstruction down your drain. For the bad smell that may follow, simply squeeze the lemon juice into the drain, but only after you have rinsed off the baking soda and vinegar from your sink. Your sink should drain quick and smell better now.
- The manual way
Sometimes, the contents of your blocked drain may be more stubborn than you think and it will take more than a little soda-vinegar mixture to resolve. In this case, a more manual approach is required.
Chances are that you have a thick entangled mass of sludge down your pipe. Opening your sink drain may be an option. Don’t worry, it doesn’t require a lot of technical skill to fix.
Using a plunger
For this you need a flashlight and a plunger (not your toilet plunger!). You can buy a small-sized plunger specifically for sinks at a store. Once again remove the drain cover as mentioned above. Turn on the tap and when the sink is filled up to an inch, used the plunger to create a vacuum and pull hard. You may need to do this repeatedly until you have removed all particles inside the sink.
If you aren’t satisfied, proceed to the next step.
Using a fish hook
Not an actual fish hook, but a wire hanger fashioned to look like one. This is for hair and other substances that appear to be stuck to the pipe lining. Insert the hook end in the drain hole and pull outwards at various angles. You are likely to remove lots of hair; do so until the drain is clear.
Snaking the pipes
This is more technical and will require a wrench, screwdriver, a wire hanger (again)and a bucket. Use the screwdriver and wrench to unscrew the P-trap (that pipe bend under the sink). It usually comes off with a brief torrent of water so ensure your bucket is directly beneath it.
With the coat hanger, tug out the blockage inside the pipe corners. Do so thoroughly before replacing the P-trap. Don’t forget to mop up afterwards.
Call a professional
If you have water splashing everywhere like a leaking ship, or for some reason you can’t replace the P-trap, turn off the water supply to that sink and call the nearest professional immediately.
Quick tips on how to prevent bathroom sink blockages
- Slowly pour boiling hot water into the sink once a month
- Buy a drain screen and fit over the drain. It will sift out hair and other undesirable items.
- Clean your pop-up stopper regularly.