Unblocking a sink

Job description:

A blocked sink is easily spotted: the water doesn't drain easily and a puddle of water can stagnate at the bottom of the sink. Several solutions exist to overcome this.

Skill level: 2 – Intermediate

Materials required:

  • Chemicals
  • Plunger
  • Monkey wrench
  • Bowl
  • Snake

Step by step guide to unblocking a sink:

1. The first (and easiest) technique to try to unblock your sink is to pour down a full kettle of boiling water. It will dilute the soap and remove the blockage if it is not too bad.

2. If the boiling water does not do the trick, try a chemical cleaner. They come in different forms: liquid, solid or gel.

3. Simply pour the right amount down the drain in accordance with the pack instructions and let it work. It should remove impurities. Then rinse by pouring water into the drain.

4. This solution is very simple and fast, but be careful as these are highly toxic chemicals which can damage the plastic parts of the pipes. So read the instructions carefully and take all necessary precautions by wearing gloves to prevent burns.

5. If the chemical solution does not free the blockage, try using the plunger. Before you begin, make sure that all the chemicals have been rinsed away because you might get splashed while using the plunger which could cause a burn.

6. A small tip: if you do not want to use a chemical drain cleaner, you can use caustic soda. Pour the equivalent of a glass in the drain, then pour over a kettle of boiling water. Always use gloves and be careful not to splash yourself or you may get burned.

7. With a plunger, first cover the overflow holes with a wet cloth so that air does not pass.

8. Fill the bottom of the sink so that the water covers the rubber suction cup of the plunger.

9. Place the plunger on the drain

10. Push firmly down and then lift the plunger to cause and then release a vaccuum.

11. Repeat this procedure until the sink is completely empty.

12. When the blockage clears, the water will run away quickly.

13. A more radical option, is to remove the waste trap. This is the device located under the sink between the drain and the pipe. It is either in an S shape (elbow) or bottle shape (full).

14. The most recent traps have a flush screw, making it much easier to take apart.

15. Put a basin under the trap to catch the water and unscrew the drain.

16. Dispose of the waste at the origin of the blockage and screw it back after cleaning. Be careful and do not forget to replace the washer, which has probably fallen into the basin when unscrewing.

17. Reassemble starting the screws by hand, then use pliers to tighten it up.

18. If the blockage is beyond the U-bend, there is another solution: the snake. This is a tool with a flexible metallic rod whose end is topped with a small brush or wire-shaped like a corkscrew. Using a rotary movement, snakes grab waste and destroy the debris.

19. For an effective use of the snake, make sure that the snake's head passes easily through the U-bend otherwise it will get stuck. If the snake does not pass or the rod is too short, remove the U-bend to move the rod through this opening.

20. Move the snake until it touches the blockage. You will notice that the rod is more difficult to turn and the tool will not go any further.

21. Take the snake out of the drain,all the waste should be attached to the end.

22. When you have reassembled the pipes, set the water to flow at high pressure to make sure that everything has been removed.

However, if you are unsure or do not have the time available I would always recommend using a professional tradesman.

The information provided in this guide is to be used strictly for guidance only. We recommend you always read the manufacturer's instructions.