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There is nothing worse than a blocked sink. It’s messy, it’s inconvenient, it can be smelly if left for too long, and it is the perfect breeding ground for bacteria, and so it should be fixed immediately, but many people put it off.
If you are tired of the constant gurgling and glugging and want to learn how to unblock a sink without calling your local emergency plumber, here are some top tips to help you remove the blockage.
Unblocking a Sink: Top Tools for the Job
The good news is, it is relatively easy to unblock a sink, and you don’t a plumbers degree to do so. The tool you use for the job will depend on many factors such as how blocked your sink is, how long it has been clogged up, and what caused the blockage in the first place. Once you have determined that, you need to take the plunge…
How To Unblock a Sink With a Plunger
Most of us have a plunger lying around at home, and it is the perfect tool for unblocking a sink. While there are no special skills to using a plunger, there are a few things you can do to make it more effective, such as sealing the sink overflow (the hole below the tap) to create an airtight seal, and cleaning the plughole, unscrewing it if necessary, to remove any obvious blockages such as hair or food waste. Once you have done that, it’s time to get pumping.
- Place the plunger over the plughole and apply pressure to create a seal
- Run the hot water tap for a few seconds to cover the plunger seal and create a vacuum
- Pump vigorously with both hands, using sharp up and down movements
- If you manage to dislodge the blockage, your sink will thank you with a welcome gurgle
- Remove the plunger and run the taps to remove any remnants of the blockage
Unblocking a sink with a plunger is usually successful, but if this hasn’t worked for you, move on to our tips below.
Unblocking a Sink Without a Plunger
If the plunger hasn’t done the trick, and you don’t want to resort to toxic chemicals, it’s time to get creative with common household items to unclog a sink at home.
Baking Powder & Vinegar
Can you unblock a sink with bicarbonate and vinegar? Yes, you can! And you’ll most likely have both of these items in your kitchen cupboard. Simply add two heaped teaspoons of baking powder to around 250ml of white vinegar and pour it down the plughole. Leave it for five minutes or so, listening out for that all-important gurgling sound, before flushing it down with a kettle full of boiling water.
Biological Washing Powder or Washing Up Liquid
When it comes to unblocking a kitchen sink clogged with food waste, oil, or grease, something as simple as washing powder or washing up liquid could be all you need to clear the blockage. Just add it to the plughole, leave it for a couple of minutes to work its magic, and rinse with boiling water. You may need to do this a couple of times to clear the blockage completely, but it’s a great way to unclog sinks without chemicals.
Wire Metal Coat Hanger
Coil drain cleaners are available to buy at your local hardware shop, but why splash out when a wire metal coat hanger could work just as well. Simply untwine the coat hanger to create a long wire and bend the end into a small hook. Feed the wire down the plughole applying light pressure until you reach the blockage. If hair is blocking your sink, use the hook to try and pull it up. If the blockage is solid, try to break it down with the wire, being careful not to damage the pipes, before flushing with boiling water.
If all the natural alternatives fail, you could unblock a sink with bleach. As a corrosive substance, this should be used with caution, but it can be highly effective at removing blockages in bathroom sinks. For best results, pour household bleach down the plughole and leave it for an hour before rinsing with hot water. Some people prefer to leave the bleach overnight, although many plumbers in London recommend against it.
How To Unblock the U-Bend
If none of the above tips worked for you, it’s time to roll up your sleeves and tackle the dreaded u-bend. It’s an unpleasant job, but it is not as tricky as it sounds, and with the right DIY tools and plenty of towels to mop up the mess, you can do it yourself in five simple steps:
- Cover the floor with towels and place a bucket under the u-bend
- Unscrew the u-bend, releasing the caps on both sides with a wrench
- Remove the u-bend and wash thoroughly in anti-bacterial liquid to remove bacteria
- Check both sides of the pipe for blockages and remove anything lurking with a wire
- Re-attach the u-bend and run the taps slowly to make sure it is firmly sealed
If, after trying all of the above, your sink is still blocked, it’s time to call your local plumber. The problem may be with your pipes, so leave it to the professionals, and let them get to the bottom of the issue.