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How to Unclog A Kitchen Sink

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If you have water draining very slowly from your kitchen sink, it is sometimes possible to clear it yourself. All you need is a few tools that you are likely to already have and be ready to put in a bit of hard work. 

Over time, lots of food scraps, oil, and debris can sneak their way down your kitchen sink drain. These can build up down there into huge blockages.

How to Unclog A Kitchen Sink Photo

This will result in a kitchen sink that drains very slowly. You may also encounter a nasty smell not dissimilar to your compost bin due to all that rotting food.

If you experience any of these symptoms, you’ll want to clear your kitchen sink. Luckily, it’s not too tough to do.

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Check You’ve Got the Tools

First things first, you need to have a few tools to be able to clear the drain.

Here are some which may help you:

  • Plunger
  • Plumber’s snake (you can rent or purchase this)
  • Allen wrench
  • Pipe wrench
  • Clamps
  • Pliers

Plunging the Drain

The go-to method for people would be plunging the sink because many people have done it before with a blocked toilet. However, there are other options as described below.

Garbage Disposal

Often, the issue with a blocked kitchen sink will be that there is an obstruction in the garbage disposal. Check first if this is the case or not. If you turn on the disposal and it won’t go, this is a sure sign that it’s blocked.

In this case, unplug it and try to use an allen wrench to turn it. Slot the wrench through the hole at the bottom and try to find the blades to attach the wrench to, to turn them.

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How to Plunge Your Drain

  1. If the disposer is not the issue, you can start plunging the drain in the sink. If you own a dishwasher, clamp the hose of that first. Then, run water into your sink until there are about 3 or 4 inches of it in the sink. This will help the plunger to seal around the drain opening.
  2. Plunge forcefully for around 20 seconds. Then roll the plunger around your sink, in the water. Doing this will hopefully push water down the pipe rather than air. Continue plunging.
  3. On your final pull to remove the plunger, try to make it pop. This creates increased pressure which just may dislodge the blockage. If water is still not draining, you need to repeat the process until it works.


If you have just poured drain cleaner down the drain, you should not plunge it. Doing so can cause the cleaner to splash back up at you which is highly dangerous as most of these are made from chemicals.

Snaking Your Drain

If you are planning on investing in a plumber’s snake, ensure that you get a good one. You can usually find good but cheap options at hardware stores. When selecting one, you will see that they come in different lengths, sizes and turning mechanisms. Generally, a snake that’s 3/8 inches by 30 feet will do the trick for your kitchen drain.

How to Snake Your Drain

  1. Once you’ve got a snake that fits your drain, the process is relatively straightforward. Undo the screw at the top of the snake and pull out some cable, about 6 – 10 inches. Refasten the screw.
  2. Push the plumber's snake into the drain with a spinning motion. Keep pushing down until you feel a barrier – this is likely to be the blockage. Loosen the screw more and let out more cable and refasten. Then keep pushing the snake in.
  3. Next, you’ll need to put the tip into the stub-out and tighten the screw. Tighten the crank clockwise. Turn the snake whenever you feel a barrier as this is how it forces through a clog.
  4. Once you think the tip has gone all the way through any clogs, you may be ready to remove the plumber’s snake.
  5. Carefully pull it out while cleaning it as it will be covered with muck and debris. Keep a bucket or bin nearby to throw any clogs the snake brings up into. Repeat the above steps until you are satisfied that there are no more clogs lurking in the drain. Then run warm water down the drain to clear out any dregs left behind and loosened up by the snake.

Cleaning The P-Trap

Sometimes clogs are sitting in the P-trap of your drain. This curved section is often where food scraps and dirt can’t escape from. Instead, it sits there, building up a blockage that grows over time.

Many people don’t realise that you shouldn’t pour used coffee grounds down the sink. These do not dissolve and instead can catch up with food scraps to cause large obstructions in your drain.

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How to Clean the Trap

  1. Get rid of any water lingering in your sink by sponging it off and then place a bucket under the sink for any runoff.
  2. Next, undo the nut that holds the trap arm in place. You may need to use a good pair of non-slip pliers to do this.
  3. Loosen the nut that sits between the P-trap and trap arm. Undo the nut at the bottom of the t. Clean out anything that may be sitting in the trap.
  4. Check the p-trap and arm for leaks and cracks which may be the cause of your drainage troubles. If you find leaks or cracks, then you will need to replace the part.
  5. After cleaning, put everything back as it was and check whether water drains easily.

After doing all of the above, if your sink is still draining slowly, you will need to call us at Fixed Today to come and see what’s going on.

Our professional plumbers are trained to deal with any situation. Whether you have clogged or broken pipes or the issue is something else, we can fix it for you.

Give us a call now to discuss your plumbing concerns and we can be right over to help you out.

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