HOW DO I: Unclogging a sink drain

  • Posted: Wednesday, December 5, 2012 7:25 a.m.

Clogged sink drain? No need to call a plumber. That slow running drain thatís been getting steadily worse and leaving a film in your sink can be fixed by just about any homeowner willing to tackle the worst part Ė emptying out the contents of the cabinet under the sink. Once cleared, youíll find a ďpĒ-shaped pipe that is hiding the problem in the bottom of its curve.

Your sink pipes may be brass with a chrome finish or white plastic called PVC. Either way, the fix is the same.

Fit a shallow bowl or pan under the pipes to catch the water that is caught in the curve. This is called a p-trap and is there to hold water and form an air-tight seal that keeps sewage gases from entering your home.

Your first step is to loosen the two large rings (nuts) just before and after the curve in the pipe.

Use your hand or a pair of large pliers to turn the nuts to the right in order to loosen them. Hold one hand at the bottom of the curve and gently wiggle the p-trap down into the pan to prevent the water from splashing out. The nuts will stay in place because they sit on top of plastic rings or rubber washers that hug the pipe. Slide the nuts up the pipe and out of the way so you can examine the washers. If they are cut or deteriorated, you will need to replace them.Take them with you to your local hardware store and match them exactly.

Take the p-trap outside or to another sink and rinse it thoroughly with water and, if necessary, a slender brush or long blunt tool.

Donít be surprised if you find a brown sludge with the texture of Jell-O and the smell of Listerine in the bottom of the trap. This clog builds over time from toothpaste residue, soap scum, mouth wash and a host of other ingredients.

Once the curve is clean and clear, look for cracks or breaks in the pipe. The brass pipes tend to deteriorate over time. You can replace them with the PVC pipes without any problem, and it costs less, too.

Reinstall the pieces in the reverse manner, and all thatís all there is to it.

Now for the second toughest part Ė putting all that stuff back in the sink cabinet.

JD Norris is the owner/operator of DreamMaker Bath&Kitchen and a certified S.C. Master Builder, certified ďAging in PlaceĒ Specialist and certified Green Professional.

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