Why Your Sink Won’t Drain & How to Fix It

Nov15 By Drain Service Emergency Plumber Plumbing
Close up image of kitchen sink

It’s never a good sign when you turn on the faucet only to have water pool at the bottom of the sink, refusing to go down the drain no matter how much you will it to. When your sink won’t drain, it can disrupt your entire day, not to mention your peace of mind. While this situation is frustrating, the good news is that pipe unclogging is often a DIY job.

Why Won’t My Sink Drain?

When your sink refuses to drain, you can often pinpoint an underlying issue requiring your attention. Understanding the root cause makes it easier to avoid future problems. Here are the most common reasons why your sink won’t drain and how to prevent each one.

Grease and Oil

Used cooking grease is liquid when hot, but it solidifies as it cools. This change in consistency makes grease a prime suspect for clogging your pipes. Instead of pouring grease down the drain, it’s better to collect it in a container, allow it to cool, and throw it away with your regular trash. This simple practice saves you a lot of hassle in the long run.

Improper Garbage Disposal Use

A garbage disposal is a great convenience, but it can also be a source of plumbing woes if used incorrectly. Overloading it or putting in fibrous, starchy, hard-to-grind, or non-food items can lead to clogs that require specialized garbage disposal repair.

To keep the disposal operating smoothly, only put in small food scraps a little at a time. Run cold water before and after turning on the disposal, and never pour harsh chemicals down the kitchen sink.

Small Foreign Objects

It’s surprising how often a missing piece of jewelry or fallen toothpaste cap can end up in the sink. Kids are also notorious for putting things down the drain that don’t belong there. Though seemingly insignificant, small foreign objects can easily become lodged in the pipe and obstruct the water flow.

Add a sink strainer to catch these little nuisances before they find their way into your plumbing system. It’s also helpful to sit down with your kids and teach them about what does and doesn’t belong down the drain.

Accumulated Hair

Hair is often the main culprit for drain issues in bathroom sinks. Over time, long strands of hair can form a net-like obstruction, which then catches other debris, creating a formidable clog. Installing a hair catcher in your bathroom sink and tub drain nips this problem in the bud or at least allows for easier maintenance.

Dirt and Debris

Granules of sand and dirt can accumulate in your drains, especially in the summer when your family spends more time playing outside. While they might seem harmless at first, these particles can add up to create a substantial clog. A good practice is to rinse off outside rather than washing debris down the drain. Then, periodically run hot water through the sink to flush away any particle buildup.

Intrusive Tree Roots

Do you have any large trees in your yard? Intrusive tree roots could become an issue, particularly in older homes using the original sewer line. Roots can grow into your pipes and cause significant blockages. If you suspect this might be the case, professional hydro jetting may be necessary to break up the clog.

How to Unclog a Sink Drain

Once you’ve identified the likely reason behind the clog, you can start on the path to fixing it. Here are some tried-and-true methods to help you get the water flowing again.

Use a Plunger

Plungers are a classic plumbing tool simply because they work. Fill your sink with a few inches of water, or enough to cover the head of the plunger. Create a seal around the drain and push and pull vigorously. This action dislodges minor clogs and is usually a good first step in any pipe-unclogging endeavor.

Pour Near-Boiling Water Down the Drain

A good flush of hot water is often all it takes to dislodge minor clogs comprised of soap scum, grease, or other soluble materials. Fill a kettle or pot with water and bring it to a near boil. Then, carefully pour it down the drain.

Clean the P-Trap

The P-trap is the curved section of pipe directly under the sink. Its purpose is to prevent sewer gases from entering your home, but the trap can also collect debris over time, requiring occasional cleaning. To do this, you’ll need to detach the P-trap, empty the contents into a bucket, wipe out the inside of the pipe, and reattach it. This straightforward process is easy to do with basic tools and minimal plumbing knowledge.

Snake the Drain

This pipe-unclogging method is a bit more complicated but often highly effective. It involves inserting a long, flexible metal cable into the drain to physically break up the clog. If you’ve never done it before, read all the instructions and take proper precautions to avoid damaging your pipes. You can also leave the job to a professional for the best results.

Check the Garbage Disposal

If the sink in question has a garbage disposal, a malfunction with this device may contribute to drainage issues. If the unit isn’t grinding properly or makes odd sounds when it operates, it might be time to explore your garbage disposal repair options.

What About Drain Cleaning Chemicals?

Corrosive chemicals harm the environment and may damage your plumbing over time, so avoid using them. If you must use a drain-cleaning product, opt for eco-friendly options that are less harmful to your pipes and the planet.

Contact a Professional

Despite your best DIY efforts, some plumbing issues are simply too stubborn or complex to resolve on your own. In such cases, Puget Sound Plumbing and Heating is here to help. We are committed to providing a positive customer experience and long-lasting results. Our skilled, fully licensed technicians are available 24/7 for emergency services, so feel free to call us anytime for help with your malfunctioning sink. We’ve been in business for over 20 years, solidifying our reputation for quality and reliability. Contact us today at (206) 938-3219 for top-quality drain cleaning services in the Seattle area.

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