Straightforward means of clearing blockages using natural methods
Simple steps to clear a blocked sink using basic items and non-hazardous materials. Four basic methods including using a plunger and everyday substances.
That annoying slow draining of water from the sink, or even worse, when the water doesn’t go anywhere when you pull the plug, means an unblocking job is on the cards. The good news is, by following some basic steps, even the novice can likely clear things and get the water draining away quickly again.
Armed with the right materials and the right methods, there’s no reason not to try unblocking your sink yourself. But if the blockage won’t clear then the advice of Chigwell Plumbers, ABS is to call on the services of a professional as it may need the expert touch.
These methods of clearing your sink involve using natural materials; you won’t be pouring abrasive and potentially hazardous chemicals down the plug hole.
Firstly, ensure you’ve got the tools and materials you need to hand. You’ll need:
- Protective glasses and rubber gloves
- A plunger
- A dish cloth (or similar)
- Baking soda
- White vinegar
- Soda crystals
- A bucket or washing up bowl
- A wire coat hanger (bent so as to form a ‘prod’)
1. Using a plunger
Try the plunger method first as it’s simple and relatively quick.
Firstly, block the overflow with the dishcloth (or similar). Cover the plughole completely with the plunger and ensure it seals properly so as to be airtight, then gently push the plunger up and down while ensuring the cloth is fully covering the overflow.
2. Baking soda and vinegar
If plunging hasn’t cleared the blockage, then a half cup of white vinegar and the same amount of baking soda should be poured down the sink.
White vinegar is very useful to have around the house; it can perform a multitude of functions in an economical and environmentally friendly way.
You’ll likely hear a fizzing noise as the vinegar and baking soda combination creates an acidic reaction and works at clearing the debris. Flush with hot water.
You may need to repeat this a few times to completely clear the blockage.
3. Baking soda and salt
A variation on the above method but takes longer.
Pour one cup of baking soda down the plughole and a half a cup of salt. Leave for at least a few hours – maybe overnight.
Next, pour a few cups of boiling water down the drain. As with method 2 above it may need repeating; hopefully you’ll notice at least an interim improvement in water draining from the sink showing that the salt and baking soda is clearing the blockage.
A variation of both of the above is to try dissolving half a pack of soda crystals in boiling water and pour it down the plughole. This may be enough to remove a build-up of grease or soap residues.
4. Wire coat hanger
This method can be tried if the above ones fail – or a little extra help is needed – and you can fully unscrew or otherwise remove the plughole.
Take a wire coat hanger and bend it so as to form one length of wire in the form of a prod with a hook at one end.
Gently ease your wire prod down the plughole and try pushing the obstruction through or, using the hooked end, pull items out. Don’t be too aggressive with this; be patient and if the blockage is obstinate then breaking it down using methods 2 or 3 should be tried (if not attempted already).
5. Remove the U-bend
If the above methods don’t do the job, there’s one more avenue to try; removal and cleaning of the U-bend.
To find it, look under the sink – the first bend in the pipe is the U-bend. Put the bucket or washing up bowl in position underneath it ready to catch water spillages.
Unscrew the collar attaching the U-bend to the bottom of the sink; take it slowly as water will likely start dripping out. Continue unscrewing while letting the excess water drain into the bucket or bowl.
Once you’ve extricated the U-bend, inspect it and remove the debris and matter that has likely built up. Once you’re satisfied it’s clear then re-attach; before you remove the bowl or bucket it’s worth running a tap to make sure the re-attached U-bend is watertight.
A combination of the above
While starting with the plunger method is probably the best approach, it may be worth using a combination of the above methods to clear blockages.
For example, if plunging improves sink drainage but doesn’t clear the blockage entirely then trying the ‘baking soda and white vinegar’ or ‘wire coat hanger as a prod’ methods to complement it could be worth a try.
Calling the professionals
If you’ve tried one or a combination of the methods above and can’t make an impression on the blockage, or there’s only a partial improvement, then it may be time to call a professional plumber in.
Don’t forget though that sometimes unblocking sinks takes some patience especially when using the ‘baking soda and vinegar’ or ‘baking soda and salt’ method. You may need more than one attempt at these to successfully clear a blockage.
Above all, don’t be tempted to plump for some sort of wonder chemical that promises to clear blockages in one fell swoop. They may not work anyway, and there’s an environmental implication of pouring powerful substances down the plughole and into the drainage system – not to mention the health and other hazards involved in handling chemical based substances.
Chloe Cotton is editor-in-chief at The Happiest Homes, a leading UK digital home magazine, and has learned a thing or two about plumbing over the years!
August 11, 2016