How to Clear a Clogged Sink Drain | Reader's Digest

How to Clear a Clogged Sink Drain

Any number of things can clog a sink drain or cause it to drain slowly. Similarly, there are a number of ways to unclog a sink, but some are easier than others. Start with the easiest solution at the top of this list, and work your way down until water flows freely.

1. If the clog is in a bathroom sink, you’re probably dealing with a pop-up stopper. To clear the drain, try pulling out the pop-up stopper, removing any accumulated debris, and washing the stopper with soapy water and a toothbrush. Replace the stopper and turn on the water. This typically resolves the problem.

2. If the sink is still clogged, try using a plunger. In bathroom sinks, the overflow opening lets air into the drainpipe as you’re plunging, preventing the plunger from getting any suction. The solution is to stuff the opening with a wet cloth before you start plunging. Position the plunger cup so that it completely covers the drain hole, then fill the sink with enough water to cover the cup. Make the first plunge a slow one to allow air to escape from the cup, plunge vigorously up and down about 15 or 20 times, then remove the plunger abruptly. Repeat several times as needed.

How to Clear a Clogged Sink Drain© Hemera/Thinkstock
3. If you’re this far down in the list and still haven’t resolved the problem, you’ve got a serious clog. It’s time for a little direct action. Bend a hook in a coathanger wire and feed it down the drain. Fish for the clog, and if you catch it, pull it out slowly. Run some water down the drain, and then give it a good plunging to remove any buildup left in the pipes.

4. Still no luck? If the curved pipe underneath the sink (called a P-trap) has a clean-out plug, you can also approach the clog from there. Put a bucket under the trap, unscrew the plug with an adjustable wrench, and let the water drain out. Probe inside the P-trap for the clog with the hooked wire. If the trap doesn’t have a plug, remove the entire trap by loosening the coupling nuts above and below it with a pipe wrench.

5. If you still can’t locate the clog, it’s probably located farther down the line, out of your reach—perhaps even in the main drainpipe. It’s time to call a plumber.