Everything You Need to Know About a Clogged Sink

Technician using plunger to clear a clogged sink - Thomas & Galbraith Heating, Cooling, & Plumbing

In Cincinnati, Ohio, homeowners want concrete solutions for a clogged sink. Clogged sinks give homeowners a hard time at the worst moments. However, there are ways to deal with clogs in both your bathroom and kitchen sinks—through DIY solutions or professional guidance.

Thomas & Galbraith collected the best at-home methods for clearing a difficult clog from your sinks. When the time comes for professional help, our plumbers are standing by to solve the problem. We also discuss some of the most common causes of a clogged sink to aid in preventing future blockages.

What Causes a Clogged Sink?

Several substances contribute to sink clogs. Homeowners often dispose of these items down the drain—on purpose or accidentally—often enough to be classified as common blockages. The items listed below are frequently credited as most common cause of a clogged sink. Use this to your advantage by ceasing any disposal of these items down the sink drain. 

  • Hair. Hair accumulates in both kitchen and bathroom drains—though more frequently in the bathroom. Hair naturally falls from your head, and some of this goes down the sink drain. Over time, hair collects in the pipe and forms a clog. If greasy substances like oil or hair conditioner are present, the hair becomes embedded in the substance and causes clogs. 
  • Small objects. Rings, earrings, or small toys get lost in drains from time to time. These items cause blockages in the pipe because they aren’t soft enough to break down. Additionally, objects like these have unique shapes and sizes and don’t fit down a traditionally sized pipe. The only way to remove this type of clog is to physically remove the item. 
  • Eggshells. Many homeowners believe eggshells help maintain their garbage disposer, but they actually cause a clogged sink. Eggshells don’t break down in water, which means they get caught in the pipes and stay there for long periods of time. Other materials get caught on the shells and cause even more blockage problems. 
  • Rice and pasta. In addition to the above, pasta and rice clog sinks. Because these carbohydrates expand in water, they grow to sizes larger than the drain handles. These foods do break down, but never completely, which means particles of rice and noodles accumulate in your sink, then continue to expand the longer they sit in water. A sink clogged with pasta or rice requires methods without the use of too much water.
  • Coffee grounds. Like pasta and rice, coffee grounds expand in water. Not only do they expand, they clump together to form blockages. These coffee ground clumps stick to the pipes and cause other food waste to sit on top of the grounds instead of traveling down the pipe. 
  • Beans and potatoes. Beans and potatoes are two more substances with water expansion issues. These foods, like pasta, grow in size when exposed to large quantities of water. Avoid putting these items down the drain to ensure clogs from wet potatoes and beans don’t become an issue. 
  • Oil or grease. Oil and grease used for cooking accumulates in the drain over time, which causes a clogged sink. Oil sticks to the sides of drain pipes and only grows over time because oil sticks to itself as well. Additionally, other substances get caught in the grease, which helps the clog grow in size.
  • Soap, dirt, and minerals. Finally, clogs from soap, dirt, or minerals occur after long periods of time. These materials accumulate in miniscule amounts every day until they become large enough to clog a sink. They either cause clogs on their own, or make already existing clogs larger. In either case, mineral collection is nearly impossible to avoid because they come from the water itself. Filtration systems help, but some minerals always find a way down the drain. 

DIY Solutions for a Clogged Sink

A clogged sink often hinders homeowners’ ability to use their bathroom or kitchen. Because of this, homeowners want to remove the clog quickly and with little effort. Luckily, there are several DIY methods many people use to unclog their sink drains. Here are some of the most popular ways to cure the clogs in your sink at home. 

 

  • Boiling water. First, try pouring boiling water down the drain. This breaks the blockage down by melting parts of the clog. When a few layers of the clog are melted away, the clog becomes small enough to travel down the pipe. For small blockages or drain maintenance, this method works well. 
  • Salt and baking soda. When poured down the drain and followed by boiling water, salt and baking soda creates a chemical reaction in the pipe. The reaction breaks down part of the blockage so it moves down the pipe. Use the same amount of salt and baking soda, then pour in the water. When the reaction finishes, clear away the solution with room temperature water. 
  • Vinegar and baking soda. Similar to the above, vinegar and baking soda helps dislodge clogs. For a clogged drain with stubborn clogs, try pouring equal amounts of vinegar and baking soda down the drain. The reaction results in a burst of bubbles. These bubbles break through parts of the clog and help force it down. Next, pour boiling water down the drain. This cleans the solution away and removes any blockage leftovers. 
  • Plunger. Toilet clogs must be handled with a plunger, but sink clogs are removed with a plunger as well. To do this, block off the second drain—if there is one—with a wet towel to avoid any debris expulsion. Next, take the plunger and plunge for a decent amount of time with a little bit of water in the sink. Finally, allow a small amount of water to go down the drain. This puts pressure on the clog and pushes it down the drain. 
  • Drain maintenance. Drain maintenance prevents the possibility of a clogged sink. When homeowners practice drain maintenance, they significantly reduce the number of clogs they experience. At-home maintenance includes pouring boiling water down the drain every few weeks and avoiding disposal of certain items down the sink drain. Additionally, plan for professional maintenance annually to improve the quality of your plumbing as a whole.
  • Snake or auger. Snakes and augers are both tools used to remove clogs from the sink drain. These tools have hooked sides to grab the blockage. When latched on, the clog then gets removed by pulling the snake out of the drain. In a pinch, a bent wire hanger does the job just as well.
  • Run disposal. Your clogged sink likely has a disposer to break down food waste. However, the disposer itself experiences clogs too. Run the disposal in short bursts to dislodge any items trapped in the blades. The noises from the disposer change when the blockage travels down the pipe. It begins with a loud, clanging sound as the blades connect with the material, but becomes quieter when the clog dislodges. 

 

Lastly, avoid harsh chemical cleaners at all costs. Though they remove blockages in a clogged sink, they also damage the pipes. They seem like a good idea because they are easy to obtain and take seconds to use. However, the damage caused by chemical cleaners produces disastrous results like leaks or bursts in the pipes. 

Call a Plumber for Your Clogged Sink

When the DIY methods don’t work on your clogged sink, call a plumber to remove the blockage for you. Plumbers deal with clogs all the time, which means they know exactly how to take care of it quickly. Additionally, they diagnose the cause of the clog and give advice about how to prevent new clogs from forming. 

 

  • DIY fails. If, despite all of your efforts, the clog in the sink refuses to leave, it’s time to call a plumber. Plumbers deal with stubborn clogs on a daily basis, so they know how to remove all kinds of blockages. 
  • Frequent clogs. Sometimes, one sink in particular seems to clog more often than any other sink. When this happens, a plumber comes by to see why. Not only do they remove the current clog, they investigate reasons for the chronic clogging. When they come to a conclusion about your clogged sink, they discuss options with you and help you decide on the best next move.  
  • Deep clogs. Clogs deep within the plumbing system require help from professionals because at-home methods simply don’t reach far enough. Plumbers have specific tools for clogs deep in the system, which enables them to solve the problem fast. 
  • Leaks in pipes. Lastly, a clogged sink occasionally leads to leaks in the pipes. Leaky pipes from a clog happen because the water trapped in the pipe has nowhere else to go. If you notice puddles of water around the sink, you likely need to call a plumber to fix the leak and remove the clog.

 

For a Clogged Sink, Call Thomas & Galbraith

Homeowners in Cincinnati, Ohio need to know how to remedy clogged sinks. With the advice provided, homeowners know what the best next step is for clearing any sink clogs. In addition, good maintenance practices improve the overall quality of pipes, which leads to fewer clogs.

Thomas & Galbraith’s expert plumbers are ready to unclog your sink drains. Give us a call today to get in touch with one of our certified plumbers!

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