We have previously dealt with the issue of changing your drain pipe trap below the sinks. And, this time around we have decided to help you out with those dastardly clogging problems that seem to affect your sink now and then.
However, before we start out, there are some points relating to sink clogging that needs to be discussed briefly –
1) A sink clog generally forms in the bathroom sinks rather than kitchen basins. This is because kitchen sink pipes tend to drain away relatively warm (and thus safe) water from dishwashers, while bathroom sink pipes get clogged from greasy hard water consisting of soap, oil and other chemical products.
2) Most of these clogs should be cleaned by utilizing simple mechanical tools (which we will discuss later), rather than opting for chemical solutions that might effect your sink pipe in a harmful manner.
3) We can always prevent the clogging problems by an easy maintenance procedure. This entails simply flushing your sink with a substantial volume of warm water (as seen in above image). So, you need to tepidly boil around 2-3 gallons of water and then just pour it down gently in the sink. The relatively high temperature of the water can help in dissolving the soapy constituents of the clog that coat the internal lining of the pipe.
Now, if the clog had already formed in the sink, there is very little you can achieve by flushing down loads of water. Of course, then it is time to tread the DIY path by making use of some simple mechanical tools, which might save you time and even money (if you have a panicky tendency to call your friendly plumber).
1. Plunger –
Your first weapon in dealing with those aggravating clogs is the ever trusty plunger. For the simple step, you need to fill your sink with water (preferably a bit warm). Then place the plunger head at the bottom of the basin (above the connecting point of the pipe), and move the plunger vigorously in an up and down motion. This creates a force of water inside the pipe that loosens up the clog. Once it is loosened up, you can once again revert to flushing warm water down the sink.
Tip – Now, before you opt for the plunger process, be certain about the type of sink and pipe your bathroom has. For example, if there is a double sink or an overflowing pipe, the plunger will not work due to lack of pressure created (with air escaping from the openings). So, first you need to seal those openings temporarily with the help of rolled wet cloths. Then continue on with the aforementioned step to loosen up the clog.
2. Drain Auger –
Some clogs are more ‘permanent’ in nature, and as such they cannot be removed by just using plungers. During those desperate times, you can surely opt for a drain auger. As for the usage pattern, there are mainly two ways you can use the drain auger – utilize the tool to go in through the sink drain, or remove the drain trap and approach it in a horizontal manner (for details on removing the trap, check out this post). Your choice should be based upon your observation on where the clog is expected to be located.
As for the type of the tool, you best bet is the relatively low costing handheld drain auger (pictured above), specifically designed to clean drains of up to 8 m in length. Basically, the contraption comprises of a drum at the end for housing the cable. This cable can be mechanically driven into the pipe by rotating the handle of the drum.
Now getting down to business, a drain auger can be used to both identify and then clean the clog. For the identifying part, you need to gently insert the cable into the drain or into the horizontal pipe (in case the trap is removed, as shown in the above image). The moment you feel some resistance in the path, you can be sure that you have found your sink clog.
Finally, comes the cleaning part; and this entails pretty much the same procedure. You start off by pulling some length of cable from the housing (round 45 to 50 cm) and then tightening the setscrew located at the mouth of the drain auger barrel for securing the cable. Then turn the handle crank of the drum, so as to improve the ‘penetrating’ power of the spinning cable.
Now after the cable has sufficiently entered the pipe, loosen up the setscrew, and then again pull some length of the cable. You can continue on with this step, until the cable has the reached the main vertical pipe. And when it reaches this ‘end point’, just pull back the cable gently, and wash off the remnants of the clog from cable surface. For a better cleaning session, you can once again repeat the entire process from the start, and then flush warm water down the sink.
Tip – If you apply the handheld drain auger too vigorously, there is every chance the cable might scratch the internal ceramic surfaces of the plumbing fixtures. So, take care to use the contraption in a gentle manner.