All Clogged Up: Four Ways To Fix A Slow Sink Drain

Posted on: 4 September 2014

A slow sink drain is one of the most annoying plumbing ailments you can encounter. Over time hair, soap scum, and unidentifiable crud can build up inside the drain and slow things down. Fortunately, unclogging it is a fairly easy drain repair. Follow these tips to get things moving again.

Remove Obstructions

The first approach you should try is to root around in the drain with your fingers or tweezers to remove any obstructions. It may seem obvious, but sometimes the clog is simply a wad of muck sitting right at the drain entrance.

Pull up the sink stopper, if there is one. This may bring up the clog in its entirety. Be sure to throw the obstructions in the trash can, rather than washing them down the drain again.

The Chemical Approach

If there is no visible obstruction, the clog is probably farther down, where you can't reach it with your fingers. Your first instinct at this point may be to reach for a jug of harsh drain cleaner. If you have old plumbing, don't. These chemicals can damage ageing pipes, according to home repair guru Bob Vila.

Even those with newer plumbing might worry about sending drain cleaners into the water supply. Instead, try the milder household chemicals baking soda and white vinegar.

Use a Plunger

If the drain is so slow that there's standing water in the sink, a plunger may be the solution. There are different types of plungers, so make sure you use the right one. The classic red rubber plunger that's probably sitting next to your toilet is actually contoured for use in sinks.

Bucket out excess water, but not all of it; the plunger needs some water to create a vacuum seal. You will also get better results by stopping up overflow holes, neighbouring drains, or any other nearby air passages.

A note on safety: never use a plunger after using drain cleaner. Residual chemicals could splash up and injure you.

Remove the Elbow

Sometimes gravity forces a clog into the elbow-shaped pipe directly under the sink, called the trap. Unscrew the two joints which hold the trap in place. If the pipes are plastic, you might even be able to do this with your hands; no wrench required.

Hold the trap over a bucket and shake out any obstructions. Then return the trap to its place, tighten the joints, and enjoy your new speedy drain. 

If none of these tips fixes the problem, it's time to call in professional drain repair services to handle the issue.